Herbert Simon in the Design Field

Felipe Kaizer & Lucas do M. N. Cunha

Kaizer, Felipe & Cunha, Lucas do M. N.. "Herbert Simon in the Design Field". ICDHS 12 (International Conference on Design History and Studies). Zagreb 2020. ISBN 978-953-7703-67-7

DOI 10.29327/123908.12-1 [researchgate.net].


The organizational theorist Herbert Simon is one of the most important authors in the design field today. His book The Sciences of the Artificial (1969) is considered a milestone in the development of design theory and is extensively quoted by scholars. With this book Simon advocates for the existence of a science of design concerned with “how things might be” in contrast to the natural sciences, which are concerned with “how things are.” However useful this definition is to the design field, its theoretical background and aim differ considerably from the tenets of modern design upon which the field constituted itself historically. Thus, in order to comprehend Simon’s influence, it is necessary to investigate Simon’s life and work as well as the process through which his theory was integrated in design research. In this article, we consider solely the first main literary landmarks of this process, and, in this way, try to contribute to the understanding of the ongoing shift towards a more managerial view of the design process. Simon’s theory is seen then as part of a common effort to illuminate the design process as such in the post-war period.


Design Methodology. Design Theory. Design History. Management and Planning.