Process-Oriented Design

101 Things I Learned In Architecture SchoolThere’s a wonderful little book by Architect Matthew Frederick called “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School” that is chock-full of great design advice, not just for Architects, but for anyone designing space.

Here is #29:
Being process-oriented, not product-driven, is the most important and difficult skill for a designer to develop.

Being process-oriented means:
1. seeking to understand a design problem before chasing after solutions;
2. not force-fitting solutions to old problems onto new problems;
3. removing yourself from prideful investment in your projects and being slow to fall in love with your ideas;
4. making design investigations and decisions holistically (that address several aspects of a design problem at once) rather than sequentially (that finalize one aspect of a solution before investigating the next);
5. making design decisions conditionally – that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution;
6. knowing when to change and when to stick with previous decisions;
7. accepting as normal the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to do;
8. working fluidly between concept-scale and detail-scale to see how each informs the other;
9. always asking “What if…?” regardless of how satisfied you are with your solution.


  1. clumsywithwords

    I have this book and go back to it every time I wish to make a decision, no matter if it is architecture related or not. He made some great points that apply to life itself.

    1. Connie Allegra

      Absolutely! It is definitely filled with little gems that we can take to heart about all sorts of aspects of our lives. For instance: #86 “Manage your ego.” Who doesn’t need to be reminded of that occasionally?

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