Model, noun

  1. A three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original.


  1. The activity of making three-dimensional models.

At Design Academy Eindhoven the term model most frequently refers to the unfinished state of a design, possibly also showing the process behind it. Models are used to test the design in progress and can help reflect on the decisions to be made.

(Rough) physical models, made from impermanent materials such as cardboard or foam for example, enable designers and design researchers to efficiently study the three-dimensional properties of an object, including its relationship to the surrounding space, the interior of a building or an outdoor space such as a city square for instance. Physical models may be used not only to test materials, structures and shapes, but also to test hypotheses, challenge preconceptions, and determine limitations.

In virtual modelling, computer-aided design (CAD) systems are used to make complex calculations and create visual fly-throughs. Such digital iterations enable design researchers to test a range of alternative proposals relatively quickly. Using rapid prototyping and 3D printing systems, digital modelling can be (re-)connected to physical reality. Models can also have considerable communicative power – they can be used in presentations of design research outcomes and as conversation pieces in critical design debates.

DAE examples

  • Sander Manse, Making the most of a model, Graduation project Man and Public Space, 2014
  • Remy van Zandbergen, De Zeefdrukkerij, Graduation project Man and Leisure, 2014
  • Joram Raaijmakers, The architecture of control, Graduation project Man and Public Space, 2014


  • Geib, J. (2017). Lexicon. In D. Hamers, N. Bueno de Mesquita, A. Vaneycken & J. Schoffelen (Eds.). Trading places: Practices of public participation in art and design research (pp. 113-115). Barcelona: dpr-barcelona.

  • Manse, S. (2014). Wat doet het model? [accessed 3 March 2015].