Optionality in Design

The following ideas on optionality involve design and design decision.

When you create a design, is it reversible?

In other words, can it cater to changes for the future need?

This proposition gives two ideas in design: optionality in the design and optionality in the effect of a design.

When you create something that has the changeability for the future but does not meet the present need, your current design became NOT an option.

Optionality in design is when your current design meeting the needs of the present context, while still having choices for future use (generally known as uncertainty).

When you have optionality, the uncertain aspect of need is said to be welcomed. 

For example, a "one plus one that does not equals to two" idea when designing a house, with a sliding door or movable partitions in between the kitchen, the dining area, and the living room. 

One partitioning solution combines with the opened space (or a shared space) solution are able to give more than one effects: the habitable living area can be expandable (adjoining the kitchen and the dining hall); the people in the kitchen and the dining areas are able to watch the other people or the TV in the living room; the people in the living room can have interaction with the people in the dining area and the kitchen; the kitchen and the dining area can be separated from the living area, and so on.

The spaces and the movable partitions (or door, or window) are solutions, the optionality is the effects of the design.

So, one solution plus another becomes not two but the power of two (four) instead. 

Take a cafe design with different seating enclosures (or experiences) for another example.

Optionality in the design means selection for the user for their current and their future use (in expectation and anticipation).

In design decision-making, especially for the case on preferences, what if somebody likes your design, while somebody does not in a room? - A design for everybody becomes not an option.

What if you have one design option for one particular group of people who might like your design and another design option for the other half of people in that same room?

The effect on the two options will work as an overall one option in reality that does not give optionality - it gives a singular effect (optionality in design and not the effect of design) that:

there is always half of the design all the people will not like,

and worse, the entire design ended up not likable due to a rotten apple that spoils the other bunch of efforts.