This is an attempt to define designing by first defining what it's not.
One persistent question in design research is What is design?
Many definitions of design have been proposed.
To start somewhere, we prefer Simon's definition [Sim81]:
It may be futile to ask the question What is design?
However, we believe that seeking an answer may be more important than the answer itself.
Here, we will focus on a unique perspective on What is designing? (per [HE96]) - the act of designing.
Other approaches are either (de)compositional or specializational.
Here, we take a qualitative relational approach, examining designing with respect to other phenomena, to illuminate the boundaries where designing becomes something else.
The notion of finding boundaries is particularly important.
Consider a paradox that arises in trying to distinguish between an organism and its environment.
A boundary is a region where some (basic) property changes value in some way.
Obviously, the boundaries of designing are not crisp.
Thus, we expect the boundaries we find between designing and other phenomena to be boundary layers.
Can some sense of what designing is be found at its boundaries with other phenomena? This section will study some of those boundaries.
We intend, in the end, to suggest that designing may be thought of as the confluence of these other phenomena – not just a superposition of them, rather a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.