Decision-making in design is a cognitive process wherein alternatives are generated and evaluated, potentially enabling a more creative design process. In recent years parametric design’s heightened capacity for automatically generating and evaluating options has been celebrated by researchers and designers, but it has also placed an increased emphasis on decision-making activities which have not previously been studied in this context. This paper conducts the first in-depth protocol analysis of the decision-making process (DMP) in parametric design. Using empirical data, it identifies three parametric DMPs at the conceptual design stage: (i) “conclusive” DMP, (ii) “confirmative” DMP, and (iii) “simulative” DMP. The results of this research indicate that while conclusive DMP generates and evaluates design alternatives, its “forward incrementation” approach has only limited potential for creativity. The confirmative DMP develops three creative operation loops in parametric design, suggesting it may be an important creative process. The simulative DMP simultaneously addresses divergent and convergent thinking, also indicating potential creative operations and outcomes. The identification and analysis of these DMPs contributes to developing new knowledge about the processes used in parametric design and their capacity to support creative results.
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