Design draws upon working methods and processes guided by specific operations and ways of thinking:
■ Empirical knowledge is gained by doing, synthesized from prior experience (e. g., painting, driving, cooking, etc.)
■ Intuition and judgment guided by subjective and objective assessment
■ Deductive and inductive reasoning are based on rational, logical, and linear working methods to formulate connections between ideas and concrete realities
■ Abductive modes of operating involves creative associations—improvisational methods of working
Furniture design results from all four ways of working. However, deductive and inductive reasoning are the most teachable methods of design, and therefore are described in this section.
Inductive reasoning involves an understanding of ideas and concepts that stem from specific knowledge and concrete realities. Designing a chair around the limitations of a particular material or specific joinery techniques entails the use of the inductive process in a search for form. Mistakes encountered along the way are considered research for both the designer and the maker. Mistakes can help improve ideas and processes that over time develop into intuitive working processes.
Deductive reasoning is a process of generating concrete realities from conceptual or form-inspired beginnings. It involves working and thinking that begin with conceptual ideas and develop into grounded specifics. Based upon a conjecture-analysis model, designers put forward ideas through sketching, drawing, or modeling and then proceed to analyze and critique the effort, seeking to refine and transform the idea into a specific resolution. The process is repeated (many times) until the designer is able to synthesize all areas into a workable, resolved design.
Deductive and inductive reasoning are linear processes involving conjecture and analysis, but design is not always linear or logical. Furniture designers are creative individuals with a capacity to think laterally, intuitively, tangentially, or thematically. However, lateral thinking knows no conclusive endpoint in the design process, and at some point, designers need to stop designing and test what they have accomplished.
Abductive modes of operating are processes that formulate associative links, often guided by metaphor or allegory. Abductive operations are not rationally directed; however, these often guide the processes that most designers use to design. Designing furniture is a
mix of rational-linear working processes and intuitive-subjective decisions made throughout the conception, development, and resolution phases of the design process.