Conceptual design is the most creative, most informal, most ambiguous, and least understood phase of design. During conceptual design, ideas are in a state of transformation and relationships between concepts are often unclear or not well developed. This paper presents our view of conceptual design as an information transformation process and proposes an approach to support conceptual design. The basic idea is the following. Limitations in human information processing capability frequently prevents designers from being effective in retaining, managing, and applying the large amount of information generated during the conceptual design phase. Therefore, if one can provide a system that receives the flow of ideas generated, and arranges the ideas in a way that can be effectively retained, managed, and applied, then fewer ideas will be lost, connections between ideas can be easily identified, and consequently the overall design will be more effective and efficient.

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