DESIGN PROCESSES – 21-1 Design Handling

Post 18 -by Gautam Shah

. This article on DESIGN PROCESSES is in FOUR parts

  • 21-1 Design Handling
  • 21-2 Holistic and Component Approaches
  • 21-3 Redesign or Reengineering
  • 21-4 Concurrent Engineering or Simultaneous Designing



Design Handling : A design occurs as a concept, idea or theme. Designs are documented brief for process of creation. These are processed further into experimental prototype, model or pilot for clearer perception of the form, scale, sensorial aspects etc. Designs also turn into products or systems. Designs become strategies for operational management or services.

Lay person’s unplanned effort > Pixabay free Images by vincentvan

There are many ways a Design is handled. The obvious conditions like: Nature of output, Presentation tools and methods, Scale of detail, Nascent effort or routine application, Human and other resources available, Technologies involved, etc. govern the Design formation.

Non Designer creations > MassKara festival, Philippines > Wikipedia image by John Albert Pagunsan

Design Processes for a Lay person and a Designer are very different. A creative lay person simply goes on creating (assembling, modifying) things without being aware why certain things manifest in a certain manner. For a creative person the end is important and means irrelevant. A Designer, on the other hand, tries to discover the logic behind it. Selection of an element may be initially intuitive, but there is always a later effort to justify the actions intellectually. A designer justifies all actions like selection, rejection, inclusion or composition of various elements. In doing so the designer refines the intellectual prowess by equipping with an experience that is:

  •          definable
  •          repeatable or recreate-able as a whole or in selective parts
  •          recordable -its perceptive aspects
  •          transferable to another person
  • increase or decrease its intensity (time scale) and diffuse or intensify its concentration (space scale).


 Relevance of Design Documents : For a designer, knowing means to achieve a specific end are very important. Proper record keeping of all design processes helps here. It is very difficult to register dreams, intuitions or inspirations. One needs to recall them in a different time and space context. All intuitions or inspirations, however, absurd, have some physical context of origin. Designers unlike a lay crafts-person or artist, are trained and disciplined, to record their design related thought processes. Thought processes thin out or obliterate completely with passage of time, so must be recorded as early as possible.

Documented Design > Plan and Elevation of the grotto, Garden of Palais du Luxembourg Paris by Jacques Francois Blondel (1705-1774)

Importance of Documenting Design Process : The prowess of documenting all aspect of design helps a designer to handle extensive or more complex intuitions or inspirations. Personal and impulsively formed systems tend to be Holistic, with few or no recognizable sub systems. On the other hand, planned systems, whether personal or evolved through multilateral effort, and over a longer period of maturation, consist of many sub sets.

Closed ended architecture > Temple of Hephaistos, Athens, Greece, Wikipedia image by Tommi Nikkila

Closed Ended Systems are intentionally holistic. Such systems become irrelevant as soon as an open-ended system is available. Closed systems are improvise-able only by the author or inventor, whose capacity to update it continuously is finite. Closed-ended systems are planned to protect the intellectual rights of the innovators. As such systems cannot be dissected for inspection or repair, the form compact and rigid. Proprietary computer software may be used by a licensee, but its code remains restricted. Stand-alone or as a part of a larger entity have shorter relevance. Closed ended system need nodes of connectivity or gateways to be useful. Such gateways may or may not allow access to proprietary entities. In the world of mutual dependency, it becomes difficult to survive.

Holistic form > Bahai Temple New Delhi > Pixabay free image by harmeet9000

Open-ended Systems evolve from multilateral effort or multi trial endeavours. Where large number of people are involved in design and execution, and where these processes are likely to take place at different time and locations, the system automatically becomes open ended. The subsystems to be replaceable are conceived as substantially independent systems, by their vendors. Open-ended systems have on certain discipline or ‘design-architecture’, formed through common measurements, materials and procedures. To allow these, open-ended systems have a skeleton type frame structure (infrastructure). Open-ended systems have built-in reserves or additional safe capacities, often wasteful, but such reserves make systems more persistent. Open-ended systems allow replacements, improvisations and up-gradations of their subsystems and components.



DESIGN PROCESSES 21-2 (Holistic and Component Approaches)


The most important approach that affects the quality of output is the Technique of Design or the Design Approach or Process. First TWO processes are discussed here, others will be discussed in coming articles.

  1.          Holistic approach
  2.        Component approach
  3.          Redesign or Re-engineering
  4.          Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous design


Holistic Approach : Design effort that conceives a complete and self-contained system is called a Holistic Approach (whole to the part). These are conceived as a whole without much thought for the details. It entails germination of an intuition as a complete system. Such creations are akin to a work of art, often not functional, and not necessarily reproducible. Such impulsive concepts, however, may be detailed later on to become component systems.

Relevance and Purpose of Holistic Approach : Holistic approach is useful in areas where sufficient information is unavailable or there is a distinct disinclination to search for the detail. Holistic approach follows when inspiration rather than logic causes a design. A holistic concept and its execution if, are distanced in time, some recall is required forcing documentation, and the holistic approach may not remain as wholesome.

Holistic architecture > sculpture-habitacle 2, architectural sculpture 1964, architect: andre bloc 1896-1966 > Flickr image by seier+seier

The term Holism :

The whole is more than the sum of its parts -Aristotle.

● The term holism was introduced by the South African statesman Jan Smuts in his 1926 book, Holism and Evolution. Smuts defined holism as the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution.

● Holism (from holos, (Greek) = all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave. Reductionism is sometimes seen as the opposite of holism.

● In science reductionism is seen as a complex system that can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts. Chemistry is reducible to physics, and biology is reducible to chemistry and physics, similarly psychology and sociology are reducible to biology, etc. Some other consider holism and reductionism to be complementary viewpoints to offer a proper account of a given system.

It is often easier to perceive Holistic image for an entity small in scale and singular in function > Saia bus stop in Saaremaa Estonia 2006 > Wikipedia image by WikedKentaur

Component Approach is one of the oldest methods used for designing entities. A complex entity is perceived, as if composed of several sub systems each of which is already substantially viable. The components breed from the familiar conditions, and so are universal and relevant. Here one is required to solve the inter-subsystem relationships, and while doing so, upgrade the original subsystems, or possibly select a new subsystem. Component approach (parts to the whole) provides systems that are reliable, but usually traditional. Where situations demand a radically different or a novel solution, parts to the whole or component design approach are often inadequate.

Component approach to design > Akshardham Temple New Delhi India > Wikipedia image by Balurbala

Relevance of Component Approach : The component approach requires one to have a complete overview of the system, and be able to recognize the value of the component in the whole. This is rather simplified by recognizing the time and space relevance of the subsystems. The components residing within a well-conceived system are not much affected from conditions beyond their boundaries, so can be dealt easily. Component approach creates systems with some regimentation where subsystems have predictable dependency, and yet are replaceable. Component approach systems are fairly matured.

Component approach Lloyds Building London > Flickr image by Michele Ursino

Purposes of Component Approach : The component approach requires one to have a complete overview of the functions the parts and the objects are to serve. Where situations demand a radically different or a novel solution, parts to the whole design approach are often inadequate. Components approach systems are fairly fail-safe because individual segments, parts, or components are continuously and concurrently being evolved. Modern day automobiles, computers are examples of this. For ages large number of buildings are being created through Components Approach. ‘Monuments’ and highly stylized architectural works intentionally and intensively negate the component approach for the sake of Holistic image.



DESIGN PROCESSES 21-3 (Redesign or Re-engineering)


Redesign or Re-engineering : A product is born through improvisations, and rarely through sudden eureka discovery. During the last few centuries, a series of products has been ‘improvised’ upon the existing ones. Many of these products were very successful in the market, and to remain ahead of competitors had to be continuously upgraded. One needs to be aware of how others are innovating with radical technologies, styles, additional functional provisions, compactness, energy efficiencies, superior handling, ease of repair and servicing. And one has to absorb these, and deliver it fast.

London city Bus > Wikipedia image by Au Morandarte from London Middlesex England


London city Bus of Hybrid technology > Wikipedia image by Tom Page from London (original) cropped by user: Ultra7

Redesign or Re-engineering Approach : Manufacturers need to design new products and launch them before their competitors do. Redesign or Re-engineering is used for product development like automobiles, `white goods’, office equipments, etc. For this markets are continuously surveyed to find out the features that make certain products leaders in the market. An attempt is made to absorb and improvise such features. As one is working with a successful subsystem, the chances of its failure are less. Redesign generates a product in its new Avatar.

Ghetto Blasters > Wikipedia image by Jared and Corin
Ghetto Blasters – Beach Blasters or Boombox of pre 1980s > Wikipedia image by Alan Light
Tokyo Flipper Tape with multi band radio > Wikipedia image by fancycrave1


Original Sony DAT Walkman > Wikipedia image by Binarysequence

Background for Redesign or Re-engineering : Most products, however claimed to be original, are only improvised versions of some existing thing or a Redesign. This is a well accepted design process for products’ development. It has perhaps, a little less relevance in design processes of unique or first ever systems, such as Civil structures and Architectural entities. Japan perfected the process and achieved distinctive product design solutions in early 1960s. Sony music system Walkman has evolved from such efforts. At that point of time taped music systems were very bulky and weighed very heavy (these were often called Ghetto or Beachfront blaster). A new Walkman delivered the sound directly to the ears, through earplugs as speakers.

1300 Volkswagen Beetle > Wikipedia image by M62 (cc-by 2.5)
Google driver-less car > Wikipedia image by Grendelkhan
Renault Twizy in Baden, Österreich
Renault Twizy > Wikipedia image by Se1962

Redesign Ideology : Redesign addresses to deficiencies of aging technologies, fast changing tastes and varying operative conditions of products. It gives very specific clues which new features are accepted and which are the emergent technologies. It also allows faster incorporation of new technologies as new subsystems being offered by inventors and innovators are sought. New products are launched with minimum changes to existing tools and plant. Workers only need to upgrade their skills, and new employees or new training schedules are not required. The improvised product has slight familiarity with the existing range, and as a result comfort of acceptance is high.


Working of Redesign Processes : Redesign processes require lots of field surveys for identification of a market leader product. The field data is often so enormous and with minor or rare variants that may require statistical processing. Very often feedback from consumers is subjective in nature. There is a distinct danger for the design leader/ team to get entangled in the data collection and interpretation work at the cost of essential design clarity and creativity. Redesigned products have to be very careful about infringing intellectual property rights. It is also extremely difficult to secure patents, copyrights, etc. for such products..



DESIGN PROCESSES 21-4 (Concurrent Engineering or Simultaneous Designing)


Concurrent Engineering or Simultaneous Designing is sometimes referred to as Integrated Product Development IPD. It allows several teams to work simultaneously. It brings together multi-disciplinary teams working in diverse locations, taking advantage of local talent or resources, the daytime zones and climatic conditions. The teams could be a departmental, outsourced facility or free lancing entities.

Airbus Industry – multi location and multi lateral Design effort > Pixabay image by WikipediaImages

Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous designing has some bearing on component approach for design. The implications here relate to an entire project and not just a product. Till recently, products or subsystems were handled as separate tasks, each often managed sequentially. Here the tasks are recognized and designed by different agencies. These agencies are not offered any specific design assignment, but become aware of it through shared Net resources. They offer their own design suggestions. Earlier in sequential design approach whenever major changes were proposed, everything had to be reset, forcing rethink and rework. It increased the ‘development time’ of a project.

International Space station (ISS) Multilateral assembly > Wikipedia image

Working of Simultaneous Designing : The simultaneous approach needs live or virtual linkage channels for very fast communication. Concepts, ideas, designs, specifications and alternatives are exchanged instantly, and shared with the project leader, teams handling specific tasks, and often all stack holders. Sharing may also be through a public domain like internet world wide web allowing anyone to pass an opinion or make a business offer. Concurrent engineering offers gains such as reduced product development time and cost, reduced design rework, and improved communications.

Northrop Grumman Innovation Lab > Da Vinci School has strategic partnerships with many corporate, non-profit and educational institutions for expert knowledge, internships, mentoring, teacher training, career guidance, etc > Wikipedia image

Examples of Simultaneous Designing : A significant design change in structural design of a bridge span will affect design of many other sub systems. It could mean change of loads on the columns, foundation structures, scaffolding requirements etc. Each of these would have new design parameters, but with electronic drafting tools and instant communication means, all design changes can be apparent to all the concerned agencies, immediately.


Conditions for Concurrent Engineering works best when resource constraints are very acute. It helps in completion of projects in the shortest possible time and maximizes the profit or advantage. It matches tasks to available human resources, machines capacities. Organization dabbling in off the track jobs cannot suddenly recruit new employees, upgrade the competence of staff or resort to over-time payments for the extra work, efficiently use the concurrent engineering. Concurrent Engineering or Simultaneous designing is one of the best methods to infuse new technologies, adjust to erratic finance flows and cope up with external factors like a climate, political conditions, etc. These methods allow use of human and other physical resources however, remote they may be.





Post 17 -by Gautam Shah


Meaning of Leadership :Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members,’ a person in a position or office of authority, such as a President or a Chairperson. The convener of the Design Organization is normally the prime leader of the unit.

Authorities required to conduct Design Organizations

Lack of Authorities to conduct the Organization : Conveners of the organization, who lack any of these authorities, try to make it up by other means. Formal authority can be procured by having a financier partner or associate, or an official appointment. Technical authority can be secured by hiring technically qualified associates or employees. Personal authority can be modified by having an indirect or remote mode of management.

Quality of Leadership : Qualities of Leadership vary according to the nature of work in the organization, but nominally it is the quality of leadership that defines the work style of the organization. To achieve the first object, organizations separate out the domain of leadership for the functioning of the organization from the domain of leadership required to handle a project. The second aspect requires the leader to be as versatile as the project demands.

Participation > Wikipedia image by Author Btphelps

Nature of Leadership : Organizations that handle highly variable situations or non-repeating projects need a very Radical leader. On the other hand organizations with routine projects will function well under a Methodical leader. An Autocratic leader overrides the situational differences and imposes a preconceived style. The autocratic leader expects complete obedience. Such a leadership works well for projects that are critical in time, resources and extent. A Democratic leader would rather mould the situation, so that it can be handled within the ambience of the personal (leadership) qualities. A democratic leader offers full support, status and due recognition to employees. Democratic leaders are ideal for projects involving large user base. A Bohemian leader develops a style to suit the situation on hand, and are very useful in tackling continuously variable situations. A Custodial leader has extra ordinary economic and political resources to make employees subservient, but the resulting performance is barely adequate.

Bohemian politicians of US-France-India-India

Authority and Responsibility in Organizations : Leadership in organization is recognised in terms of Authority and Responsibility. Authority refers to the right or prerogative of requiring action over others, or simply a right to command, whereas, Responsibility means being prepared for the consequences of application of authority. A leader passes on a part of the authority to selected subordinates, and makes them responsible for their actions. By sharing the responsibility a leader strengthens the ultimate authority.

Chief talking to staff

A leader establishes a rational link between the authority and responsibility. Leaders create a logical, transparent and well-balanced structure of authority and responsibility, within their organization, through selective participation of subordinates. A relationship between authority and responsibility motivates other subordinates to belong to the process.

Enduring Freedom
Employees perception of responsibilities

Employees’ Perception of Responsibilities : Members of the organization take on responsibilities with different concepts, as an assignment, as a perceived duty, as something to reimburse the favours or compensations, as a share of power or prestige, or even as a compulsion. The responsibilities unless accompanied by adequate handout or recognition of the authority, causes unpredictable responses.

Personal creativity of Designer

Dispensation of Authority and Responsibility : A complex organization will have many layers of people with assigned or presumed authority. In mid size and large organizations owners or conveners do not get involved in dispensation of authority and responsibilities. To manage these dispassionately, a coordinator or manager is required. A coordinator’s job is to dispense the authorities and responsibilities in a formal and ceremonial manner. A coordinator or the manager usually has the power to hire, fire or favour any subordinate. Managers are people who do things right, but leaders are people who do the right thing’- Warren Bennis, ‘On Becoming Leader’.



Specialization or Core Competence of the Organizations : Organizations come into being with specific aims. All organizations intend to specialize in tasks that are analogous to their aims. But specialization is acquired through repetition of opportunities. Specialization leads to an economy in the operations. It also upgrades the organization’s capacity to deal with larger or complex tasks. Specialization, is perceived as an innovative activity, that causes enough synergies, to make the organization behave like self correcting or continuously adjusting biological entity.

Teacher’s address > Wikipedia image

Creativity is not in specialization (capacity to excel in limited fields) nor in generalization (capacity to handle many different situations) in any field. Specialization means being consistently proficient in sustaining the technical superiority, whereas Generalization means being efficient or productive, but not at the cost of quality.

Personal expertise

Creativity in Organizations-I : Design Organizations thrive on new ideas, concepts, innovations, etc. A creative environment comes about by many factors. There should be teamwork spirit, willingness to help each other, commitment and dedication to assigned tasks, trust with fellow workers. Personnel should have access to appropriate resources, including facilities, equipment, information, funds, and people. If work is challenging or tasks are intriguing than there is an attraction to handle it. Staff members should have some control on tasks they carry out and freedom in deciding how to accomplish a task. A manager or leader who sets clear goals and is able to communicate well with subordinates, encourages creativity. Existence of defined and surprise rewards encourages creative efforts. A collaborative atmosphere sets in, when the staff shares the vision and goals of the organization.

Manufacturer of pleasure carriages Designing room 1879 > Wikipedia image from Scientific American Feb 8 1979

Creativity in Organizations-II : In any well knit organization, creativity comes about, through several layers of activities, carried out by individuals with many different talents and personality traits. ‘It operates like a relay race, but the participants have no idea who will take over, at which level and when’. Often the racers have no idea, whether they were running forward or backward, i.e. towards or away from the finish line or goal.

Team effort and creativity > Wikipedia image

Creativity in Organizations-III : Organizations become and remain creative when roles that personnel are required to play, are very definite. Where there is a knowledgeable and visible structure, one knows who is going to take over at what time and at which level. A creative idea or concept will be accommodated, supported and carried through, if necessary, by even changing the goals of the organization. The leaders of such organization are sensitive, and have a ready mechanism to improvise the goals of their organization on a continuing basis.

Creativity fails to spread in an Organization

In organizations, where obnoxious quality control checks, evaluations, secret reportage, etc. abound, personnel come under pressure and become sterile. Promotions other than on qualitative criteria, allocation of resources other than on needs based assessments, recognition of wrong members, delayed or inadequate compensation, etc. are some other factors that vitiate the working of an organization.

A good leader makes the personnel realize that real measure of creativity is in the gains or advantage an organization gets. This is a difficult proposition, as it requires a very high degree of transparency in accounting and auditing processes. Everyone must clearly realize what an effort will cost, and how much benefit the organization will get out of it. Creativity is both a personal and group pursuit. A personal innovation must have confirmation of the larger group, and the group’s achievement must remain impersonal.


These three categories constitute a layered arrangement. There are no specific models as to which category of staff, numerically must form the dominant layer. Organizations involved in Professional work have the third category as the dominant layer. Production organizations have the first category as the dominant layer. Whereas Service organizations such as concerned with testing, evaluation, data management, administration, etc., have the second category as the dominant layer.

Assigning Jobs : Organizations define tasks into various skill and resources-based specialities to assign these to individuals as distinct roles. The leader of the organization or chief of a project continually shifts a job from one to another person, to achieve optimum results. The organization becomes innovative and creative through such shifting of personnel. Jobs are assigned to remove the tedium of repetitions, to provide new exposures, infuse new thoughts, improvise work methods, and utilize different resources (plant, equipments, tools, talents). Jobs are presented as an opportunity, challenge, and incentive to a person or a team.

Personality traits : An organization is formed by people of many different talents and personality traits that are reflected in their attitude and conduct. These traits are not exclusive categories, and under appropriate conditions a person also takes on other characteristics.

Dream-weavers are prolific generators of ideas and new concepts, but lack the skill to detail them. The dream-weavers are mercurial and often have a fear of failure. A dream weaver must be an extrovert otherwise never gets acknowledged.

Technocrats have a talent of visualizing structured entities. For them an entity is conceivable, if it is structured and so practicable. Technocrats are fastidious, uncompromising, and hardheaded. A technocrat though may get entwined while detailing the parts, and lose the grasp of the holistic scheme.

Jacque Fresco (1916 March) a self-made American futurist, social engineer, industrial designer, and with keen interests in sustainable cities, energy efficiency, natural resources, cybernetic technology, automation > Wikipedia image by Jacque Fresco  

Exponents enjoy advocating ideas or schemes, without bothering either its authorship or practicability. They feel that the public attention received through the advocacy is the measure of their skill and success.

Patrons are not necessarily resourceful people, but are ready to support any new activity that takes them away from their routine chores, provides a novel experience, and keeps them busy. A person may become a sponsor by virtue of the position and powers to allocate resources. Such people are motivated by strategic gains through various sponsorship.

Patron saint of Gold Smith St. Eligius

Arrangers or fixers are expert manipulators, and keenly look for a chance to jump into any difficult situation to manage it. As a risk taker they collect lots of benefits, and very fast.

Conservatives are by personality, very over careful. Conservatism is due to a struggle less life or due to old age lethargy. They detest change, but if instrumental of causing even minor innovation, take a great pride.




Post 16 -by Gautam Shah


Context for Quality : Quality is as much an issue for the conscientious designer, as much as for the project initiators, project users, project operators and the society. It relates to how a project, product or service is carried out or employed, how the external conditions support the usage and how it is perceived ?

Pursuit of quality through micrometer > Wikipedia image by _of_congress/2179237858

Quality as per ISO 8402 : `The concept of quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a project, product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy, stated or implied needs’. Quality is both a perception and a value judgment, concerning human satisfaction; the basis for both is ever changing. The characteristics of a project, product or service, by themselves, cannot determine the measure of quality. A project, product and services when satisfactory in every respect, can fail, if the external use conditions are drastically altered during its execution.

Concept of quality is the totality of features and characteristics > Wikipedia image

Conscience for Quality : Conscience is the inherent ability of every human being to perceive what is right and wrong. With this conscientiousness, we control, monitor, evaluate and conduct all endeavours. Some consider that the innate sense of judgement needs to grow, develop, and further formatted. It must though become a continuing passion of refinement (meticulousness).

Quality of fruits and vegetables > Wikipedia image

A project, product and service, if conscientiously executed, inspires the designer to do better next time. Designers project their professionalism through their attitude and deliverables, both of which converge as pursuit for quality. An enhancement of satisfaction is the key element of quality conscience. The conscience for quality has THREE facets, a Personal need, Governmental requirement and Social obligation. In the First case, it is just too subjective and changeable. In the Second instance, it is often compulsory, restrictive and punitive. In the Last case, there are many stakeholders.


Defining: Consciousness : Consciousness is an adjective, for being aware and responsive to one’s environment, but not being judgmental in terms of good-bad, wrong-right, etc. Consciousness is being aware of all processes and parameters where conscience is checked.

Defining: Conscience : Conscience is a noun which can have many different meanings, but it is the inherent ability of every human being to perceive what is right and what is wrong. It is considered as a quality of one’s character and conduct, reflected by the adherence to moral principles and consideration of fairness and justice.

With conscientiousness, one can control, monitor, evaluate and conduct all endeavours. Conscience is a social facet of the morality, as it is shaped by the person and the society. A quality conscience requires no outside assessor. In commercial fields, conscience is seen in products and services that demonstrate the integrity and social responsibility.

Confusion between Conscience and Consciousness arises, because of the same Latin root (Latin word conscius, meaning with and to know).

Defining: Compliance : Compliance is the act or process of complying to public desire, demands, ideology, traditions or legal, regimen. This is done by coercion or sense of responsibility. This requires extra ordinary effort, compromises and investments, and so it often detested or challenged. Some Governments (like USA) avoid interference, whereas some International agencies have no power to legislate so depend of self-regulation that is akin to conscience.

Quality compliance > US Dept of Agri. 20120106-OC-AMW-0670

Conscience for Excellence : The Conscience as a refinement can be seen in the excellence enhancement and emergence of human relationship, at both, personal and professional levels. It is measured at professional level, as the original expectations (requirements) versus the product formation, service deliverance or adequacy of counselling. For this, It is imperative to formally state the expected use of the system and define ways how its adequacy will be checked.

Laboratory Information Management system LIMS for lab data management > Wikipedia image by JW

Documenting matters related to Quality : For developing quality meticulousness, it is very necessary that all matters relating to quality control are well documented. A well-documented brief serves as a benchmark for assessing the level of the quality being achieved. Wherever Quality control documents that are formal, transparent and accessible, to all stack holders (clients, users, public and competitors), the projects, products and services have greater quality assurance.

Transparency and Compliance for Quality : Quality Conscience and Consciousness are both personal pursuits, yet together cannot offer the Quality at Societal level. The pursuits for quality, even if individual in nature and ever evolving must be transparent. To involve all stakeholders, a designer must declare and continually update the policies relating to quality through open access, public domain documents.

Feedback – Feed-forward systems

Fee-back and Feed-forward systems for Quality control : For ages quality control has been a matter of learning and improvising the process and materials. The learning was a feed-back from the users, as available through selling and using the produce or services. Feed-back is interpreted as adjusting future actions on the basis of past experience or performance. It is a post event report on things that have already occurred and past remains unchangeable. Post industrial age many real time work systems were realized. These were used concurrently with the system eventualities to make ‘course corrections’. But these did not allow strategic planning. So Feed-forward as a future directed system was realized. It is like preventive maintenance or preventive actions to avoid mishaps or cash flow planning for contingencies.





Post 15 -by Gautam Shah


Designers and Quality : A designer, as a professional, strives to assure that projects are completed with planned level of inputs and provide intended benefits. Quality represents the fundamental economics of the input-output equation. The emphasis is upon maximizing the achievements, value addition and minimizing process effort, resource wastage.

Experiment on a Bird in an Air pump > ART by Joseph Wright of Derby 1768

Quality in Design results from `what the product is‘ and `what the users do with it‘. It results from Three-way interaction between:


Judgements for Quality : There are several Primary issues, against which quality judgements are made, like: comfort level, variety, novelty, prestige, economy, size, ergonomics, anthropometrical possibilities, other or optional uses, etc. The Secondary issues include social, cultural, psychological, political and other relevancies.

Chichicastenango Market Guatemala showing buyer-seller meet / Wikipedia Image by Chmouel Boudjnah

Designers are quality conscious on two counts: their own conscience and the public compliance. Designers are conscious that ‘certain personal quality notions’ must be achieved, and ‘certain other public requirements’ must be complied. But consciousness does not translate as conscience, and conscience does not make for compliance.

Types of Design Clients and their Involvement : Designers deal with many types of clients, knowledgeable, curious, domineering, modest and ignorant ones. But, two distinct classes of clients profoundly affect the design process.

One, where the clients are corporate or organizational entities, with factual and detached interest in design.

Two, ‘personal-clients’ who are inquisitive, participatory and subjectively involved.

Jere Davidson engraving a Knife > Wikipedia image by Daviddarom

Strategies for Client Management in Design-I : During the design phase ‘personal or individual clients’ (like a family), a design is a rare event, but initiates multi faceted dreams. The ever evolving dreams consist of unconnected images, friends’ suggestions and other impressionistic situations like media, magazines or real life examples. For a designer the problem occurs in perceiving a holistic image out of it, or in offering and convincing the client about a novel offering that is far more exciting. Most clients do not understand the formal language of drawings or graphical representations. During discussions they grab familiar words or terms and hang on to it. So designers have to be very careful how and what they express.

Ceramist working on object > Pexels Free stock Photos by Regiane Tosatti

Strategies for Client Management in Design-II : Prepare a project brief for determining and stating formally, all requirements, such as: user and other ‘clients’ needs and demands, technical requirements, statutory obligations, prevailing standards, current styles, available technologies, etc. Where the client is not a user, and a product specifier is a marketing team, both of these may not offer much for design requirements, so it is left to the designer to formulate the design brief. The user-client may not understand such briefs, at least initially, so remain non-committal, or in good faith initially allow the designer to proceed.

Design Presentation initiates for clients new process of learning and realizations > Flickr Image by Het Nieuwe Instituut

Strategies for Client Management in Design-III : As a Design gets under-way, and design presentations, in colour, 3D format, reality models, or in virtual animations, the clients ‘truly’ react to the Design. At this stage, clients due to their subjective involvement, become extra perceptive to some aspects of Design. A designer should see this as the inevitable, and be prepared for the accommodation. All re-calibrated designs face a barrage of new demands, requiring substantial to a complete rethink over the design.

Water quality compliance testing > Wikipedia image by US NARA

Strategies for Client Management in Design-IV : A worrying aspect of Design Delivery is over or premature commitments. Both of these create liabilities of promised delivery. Right from meeting for concept design presentation to an execution stage, a designer may over explain a detail orally or in other presentations. Certain details must remain ‘open ended’, allowing scope for improvisations. A premature statement or commitment before all aspects like technical or economics feasibility have been checked, can become embracing. For example, between ‘a red floor’ and ‘bright coloured floor finish’, the commitments are very different. Individual clients are very fast learners, and designers must expect them to be super designers, by the time execution starts. With their fast learning capacity to suggest changes enlarge many-fold, and designers should take this enhanced ability as the readiness to dabble in complex issues of design.

Quality Assurance – Coffee Barista at work > Wikipedia image by Christopher Michel

Strategies for Client Management in Design-V : As the project materializes, the clients begin to have first life size or realistic experience of the designed entity. Designers must ‘engage’ their clients by adequately answering the quarries, offering convincing explanations. Clients derive satisfaction during the project execution phase, when quarries about economic and technical nature are answered with convincing explanations with comparisons among various options.

Client’s feedback > Flickr image by Andypiper

Strategies for Client Management in Design-VI : A project, as it is delivered to an actual occupying-user (who could be a new person, different from the assigning-executing client) the designed entity is revalued. The new person, is less bothered about how a design was evolved, but concerned about the advantage accruing out of it. This could be based on sum effects of many factors like cultural roots, aspirations, economic status, etc.

Tour de France consumer event 2016 – Product checking > Flickr image by Lwp Kommunikacio

Post Delivery of a Project : For Design professionals stacks are very high in seeing that clients derive satisfaction both, during the design and execution phases of the project. In few instances, the design and execution phase converge, so it becomes all the more necessary to keep in touch with the clients. This can be reinforced through casual visits to the project, or inquiries of well being. For a designer interaction with the client begins through the design process and delivery of a final product, but persists as an everlasting relationship. A satisfying design process helps in most appropriate product delivery. And an appropriate product backed by constant concern creates a long-lasting relationship bringing in new projects and clients.



DEALING WITH A CLIENT in a design organization -7

Post 14 -by Gautam Shah


Contacting a Client : Clients and Designers seek each other in many different ways. A client can go about it without any inhibitions, whereas a designer can go about it with certain restrictions, depending on the type traditions and ethics followed by the profession. Client and Designer are primarily introduced to each other by intermediaries like friends and relatives. Secondarily a client may seek a designer through direct contact, on seeing or experiencing the work as a real entity, sketch or a publication of it.

Seeking client and discussing terms are part of every business > Wikipedia image by pmorgan / OR / from

Designer Contacting a Client : A designer on realizing a person’s potential as a client may seek the person directly or through a mutual acquaintance or friend. When a person is a potential client, in the official capacity than an official appointment with the clear declaration of intent is necessary.

Discussions with clients at informal to formal levels > Wikipedia image credit:

 When a client is not aware of a competent designer, or not allowed, or not authorized (e.g. a government official) to deal with any designer, on a person to person basis, an appropriate process for selection is required. The process of selection can be restrictive through invitations offered to, designers with defined level of competence, members of a recognized body, persons of certain location, age, sex, nationality, or religion. For very complex design jobs, selection of a designer is done through pre assessment or a limited competition.

Clientele :Cultivation of social contact is the most common method for a designer to come into contact with a potential client. Other means of Personal approaches include, specific letters, generalized bulletins, telephonic calls and face to face meetings. The impression created through a meeting or telephonic call may not be of desired type and long lasting. Letters are very objective, longer lasting, but have to be brief to be effective.

Wikipedia image by Ken Georgie Mathew

Bio-data or Resumé : This is an ever lasting and effective medium of exposure. These are created to secure a design assignment not for employment. So it must not contain anything beyond professional competence and achievements relevant for that exposure. Concealment or non emphasis of data in such documents is intentional, and generally not unethical, though could be malafide.

Boston Molasses Tragedy of 1919 that initiated debate on Business and Professional ethics

 BOSTON MOLASSES In 1919, North End of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, a large molasses storage tank (15 mts x 27 mts = 8,700 C mts) burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at 56 kilometres per hour, killing 21 and injuring 150. The tank was constructed poorly and tested insufficiently. Steel was not only half as thick as it should have been for a tank of its size, even with the lax standards of the day

Ethics : In dealing with clients, what kinds of behaviour, actions or attitude are considered as unethical, malafide or bad, varies from country to country, region to region, profession to profession, and time to time. In professions where rules regarding behaviour have not been formalized it may vary even from a professional to professional. Members of the society usually know where and how to find a designer in traditional fields but for newer branches of design skills, intermediaries bridge the contact.

Contact between a Client and a Designer : Rapport between a client and designer develops slowly, or is launched formally. Fresh designers are eager to secure the job, whereas established designers may wish to know the client more or understand the design brief well. Clients on the other hand are often shrewd enough to have a free taste of thing to come before formalizing the relationship. Designers need to know, if they take on a project what will be their gain, versus, if they do not take the project would there be a loss, other than the usual non availability of a gain.

A Contract with a client is the Best solution but often a formal consent can serve the purpose > Wikipedia image by Jerome Dessommes – ECRIVAINS CONSULT r

Formal Consent : For a designer requisition of a formal consent from a client, for a job, is a very difficult exercise. A designer begins a job, by investing in labour, stationary and intellectual skills, and a formal commitment binds a designer to deliver the expected services. Whereas, a client awaits with uncertainty whether the designer will at all deliver the services, of required quality and in time. When a designer fails to deliver, wastes clients time and effort (both non calculable entities). And if the client refuses to appreciate a designer’s, all the labour, stationary and intellectual skills (only some of it calculable) are wasted.


Formal Commitment : Ideally best and binding commitment sets in with a contract as per the law of the land. Contract, however, is a very formal expression of intent. It is too much to expect a client and a designer to formalize their relationship with a contract, when they hardly know each other, or have not formulated the project. In the absence of a contract, if both the parties are willing the relationship can be nurtured. At a little later stage, any of the parties may refuse to acknowledge the relationship between them. In such a situation a designer will lose all that was invested in understanding, preliminary working, planning of the project, including some patent ideas. On the other hand, a client will never recover the time wasted in searching, identifying the project, and the designer.

In spite of good rapport with clients Formal commitment is necessary > Pexels free images by

Circumstantial evidences of Commitment : It is very natural that clients and designer are extremely careful about things they say and do. For a designer, (who is operating in the absence of a very formal commitment) it is necessary to create a proof that, a client did commit the job, or at least was aware that the designer is working for the job. The circumstantial evidences of such nature are not generally tenable in court of law, unless corroborated by other circumstantial or real evidences.

CLIENTS contacts

Circumstantial evidences of Professional Relationships : These are proofs that establish the time, location, context, contents, pre and post effects of a happening or an event. It is not full evidence, because it may be lacking in one or many of these factors. Circumstantial evidences are of many types, such as:

Records and minutes of meetings with the client -location, time, context, witnesses, etc., Records of correspondence, messaging, and telephone talks with the client, Replies from the client for the queries, Changes, doodles and notes etc. made on drawings by the client during meetings, Original plans, sketches, writings, data, etc. as supplied by the client, Keys, permissions to visit the site.

A Retainer amount, however, small signifies establishment of relationship > Pixabay image of One Anna (Indian coinage of past)

Retainer Amount : One of the best commitments next only to a legal contract is payment of a Retainer Amount. A retainer fee, however small, signifies establishment of a relationship, between a client and a designer (retainer amount or fee should not be confused with retention money). Ideally a quantum of a retainer amount should be large enough to cover not only the labour, stationary and skill, but the cost of patent ideas (original or exclusive) required to generate a schematic design (or such other stage when fees again become due). The cost of patent or unique idea is collected at first go, because a unique idea or a concept once exposed to an outsider like a client loses its originality and so the value. A formalized relationship has built in compensation procedures, so in case of a failure no one feels hurt. However, when an informal relationship fails, it creates the worst of situations.

Prime information from a client to initiate a design project > Wikipedia image by Eleberthon

Mandatory data or Prime information for Design : Work of a designer begins with the mandatory data / prime information provided by the client. As soon as a potential client is identified, a designer postulates own data requirements. For these first the client’s capacity to furnish or collect is checked. In exceptional cases, where the client is invisible (a social group) very little data is likely to be available. Where a client is incapable of providing the data, it is up to the designer to get the same collected, but with clients’ consent and cost.

Survey Data
Surveys and data collection need consent of client for its cost and ‘other’ uses > PublicDomainImages by WHO, Stanley O. Foster M.D., M.P.H., USCDCP

Ownership and Rights for Data : A designer cannot object to a client’s right to procure the data from other professionals or sources. A designer has no right to use the data collected for and paid by the client, for any other client or purpose. Nominally the person who pays, receives the output, and has the first and exclusive right to it. The party that pays for data, also acquires the inherent risks and liabilities. Whenever a client provides a crucial data like sizes, technical requirements, permissions etc. the transfer of information should be formal and well recorded. Data contributions from independent professionals are favoured, because these provide greater clarity, a counter check, division of responsibilities and dilution of risks.

Small clients and Corporate clients require different ways of relationships > Flickr image by Sustainable Economies Law Centre

Role of Designers with Government and Corporates : Small or improperly organized clients require designer who can handle the job even through its operations phase. They generally leave every thing in the hands of the designer. Government and large corporate organizations have the necessary expertise to divide the routine type of job into tasks that can be assigned to different professionals. Such organizations themselves coordinate all the output from different professionals and take their own decisions and actions. Here the role of a designer is very clearly defined and so is the risks and liabilities. Designers working under a master or assigning professional have no problem regarding data collection, accuracy, liabilities or transfer, since everything is well organized.

Design Assignments : A client realizes the potential for a project when the assets such as land, building, money, and personal qualities like knowledge, expertise, experience, becomes known. In case of physical assets the financial adviser provides clues how to explore the situation suggests the ways and agency who can shape it. Personal qualities motivate a person to pursue an activity, but will still need an agency to formulate the project. Financial advisers and project consultants are the largest referring agencies for designers. Next lot of design assignments arrive from designers of other branches of design.


07 DEALING WITH A CLIENT in a Design Organization –part of the lecture series DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES