C&C²-A - Embodiment-Function-Relations in Design


Functions are realised in a product through design of a fitting embodiment. The main activity of a design engineer is finding and improving an embodiment until it can fulfil the desired functions not only in general, but over the lifespan of the product. For doing so, he needs knowledge of the relations of function and embodiment. Focus of our research is the support of the design engineer in the process of identification and usage of embodiment function relations in design activities. For that we develop and investigate methods of analysis, model building and model verification to help the design engineer to gain knowledge about his technical system.

C&C²-model of a power tool
hybrid IPEK
C&C²-model of a hybrid powertrain

Main research topics

  • Application of the C&C² approach in design
  • Modelling in the analysis
  • Model verification
  • Synthesis


  • Power Tools
  • Fastening Technology
  • Drive systems
  • Vehicle construction
  • Plant engineering


methods of analysis:

  • analyseKIT framework (methods to identify system behaviour)
    • Change of perspective
    • Zoom in
    • Show me don't tell me
  • Wear analysis

Modelling and verification of the Form-Function relationship:

  • C&C² approach
  • Design hypotheses
  • Rapid prototypes

Synthesis methods

  • Heuristics of the C&C² approach
  • Shape-related synthesis rules

Understanding the designer

  • Eye-tracking
  • Think-aloud


  • Techniques of modelling with the C&C² approach
  • Approaches to design


  • Analysis laboratory
    • Macroscopy
    • Microscopy
    • Ferrography
    • Many more
  • Eye-tracking equipment
  • System analysis
    • Workshop
  • Training on the C&C² approach
  • Prototype production for rapid synthesis
    • 3D Printers
    • Laser cutter
    • Prototype milling machine

Further equipment of the institute can be found here.


  • Power tools
  • Consumables
  • Automotive systems
  • Plant construction


Methods of analysis:

  • analyseKIT-Framework (Methods to identify system behaviour)
    • change of perspective
    • Zoom-in
    • Show me don’t tell me
  • Analysis of wear

Model building and -verification of embodiment function relations:

  • C&C²-Approach
    • Sequence model
  • Design hypotheses

Methods of synthesis

  • Heuristics of the C&C²-Approach
  • Embodiment related rules of synthesis

Understanding the design engineer

  • Eye-tracking
  • Think-aloud


  • Model building techniques with the C&C²-Approach
  • Procedures of embodiment design


  • Laboratory for analysis
    • Macroscope
    • Microscope
    • Ferrography
  • Eye-tracking equipment
  • System analysis
    • Workshop
  • Training for C&C²-Approach
  • Rapid prototyping
    • 3D-printer
    • Lasercutter
    • Prototype milling machine

Further equipment of the institute you find here.

Publications within the Research Field

Investigating the generation of specific design knowledge: experimental validation of a qualitative modelling method
Grauberger, P.; Eisenmann, M.; Windisch, E.; Matthiesen, S.
2022. Journal of Engineering Design, 33 (11), 870–895. doi:10.1080/09544828.2022.2151788
Gaining insights through qualitative modelling - industrial project analysis with focus on derived hypotheses based on the contact and channel approach
Grauberger, P.; Bremer, F.; Pfaff, F.; Tröster, P.; Nelius, T.; Eisenmann, M.; Stöberl, T.; Albers, A.; Matthiesen, S.
2022. 32nd CIRP Design Conference (CIRP Design 2022) - Design in a changing world. Ed.: N. Anwer, 478–483, Elsevier. doi:10.1016/j.procir.2022.05.281
Gestaltung : Prozess und Methoden
Matthiesen, S.
2021. Pahl/Beitz Konstruktionslehre. Hrsg.: B. Bender, 397–465, Springer Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-662-57303-7_13
Qualitative Modelling in Embodiment Design - Investigating the Contact and Channel Approach Through Analysis of Projects
Grauberger, P.; Bremer, F.; Sturm, C.; Hoelz, K.; Wessels, H.; Gwosch, T.; Wagner, R.; Lanza, G.; Albers, A.; Matthiesen, S.
2020. Proceedings of the Design Society: DESIGN Conference, 1, 897–906. doi:10.1017/dsd.2020.260
The contact and channel approach – 20 years of application experience in product engineering
Grauberger, P.; Wessels, H.; Gladysz, B.; Bursac, N.; Matthiesen, S.; Albers, A.
2020. Journal of engineering design, 31 (5), 241–265. doi:10.1080/09544828.2019.1699035
Product models in embodiment design: an investigation of challenges and opportunities
Matthiesen, S.; Grauberger, P.; Bremer, F.; Nowoseltschenko, K.
2019. SN Applied Sciences, 1 (9), 1078. doi:10.1007/s42452-019-1115-y
Extended Sequence Modelling in Design Engineering – Gaining and Documenting Knowledge about Embodiment Function Relations with the C&C2-Approach
Matthiesen, S.; Grauberger, P.; Schrempp, L.
2019. Proceedings of the Design Society: International Conference on Engineering Design, 1 (1), 1483–1492. doi:10.1017/dsi.2019.154
Agile Lightweight Design - The Extended Target Weighing Approach in ASD - Agile Systems Design Using Functional Modelling with the C&C2-Approach
Albers, A.; Matthiesen, S.; Revfi, S.; Schönhoff, C.; Grauberger, P.; Heimicke, J.
2019. Proceedings of the Design Society: International Conference on Engineering Design, 1 (1), 2667–2676. doi:10.1017/dsi.2019.273
How do c&c²-models improve efficiency, comprehensibility and scope in failure analysis - an empirical study based on two live-labs
Gladysz, B.; Albers, A.
2018. International Design Conference - Design 2018, Dubrovnik, HR, May 21-24, 2018, 1127–1138. doi:10.21278/idc.2018.0497
From Reality to Simulation – Using the C&C²-Approach to Support the Modelling of a Dynamic System
Matthiesen, S.; Grauberger, P.; Sturm, C.; Steck, M.
2018. Procedia CIRP, 70, 475–480. doi:10.1016/j.procir.2018.03.039
Modellbildung mit dem C&C²-Ansatz in der Gestaltung - Techniken zur Analyse und Synthese
Matthiesen, S.; Grauberger, P.; Hölz, K.; Nelius, T.; Bremer, F.; Wettstein, A.; Gessinger, A.; Pflegler, B.; Nowoseltschenko, K.; Voß, K.
2018. Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). doi:10.5445/IR/1000080744
Systemverständnis durch Analysemethoden
Matthiesen, S.; Hölz, K.; Grauberger, P.
2017. DFX 2017: Proceedings of the 28th Symposium Design for X, Bamberg, Germany, 4-5 October 2017. Hrsg.: D. Krause, 263–274, The Design Society
Studiendesign zur Untersuchung der synthesegetriebenen Analyse von Konstrukteuren
Matthiesen, S.; Nelius, T.; Pflegler, B.; Gutmann, T.
2017. DFX 2017: Proceedings of the 28th Symposium Design for X, Bamberg, Germany, 4-5 October 2017. Ed.: D. Krause, 299–310, The Design Society
Integration von Versuchsergebnissen in C&C² - Modellen zur Wiederverwendung in der Produktgenerationsentwicklung am Beispiel eines trockenlaufenden Kupplungssystems
Albers, A.; Gladysz, B.; Kniel, J.; Aschoff, M.; Meyer, A.
2016. KT 2016 : 14. Gemeinsames Kolloquium Konstruktionstechnik : Traditio et Innovatio - Entwicklung und Konstruktion, Rostock, 6. - 7. Oktober 2016. Hrsg.: K. Brökel, 10–20, Shaker Verlag
The Contact and Channel Approach (C&C2-A) - relating a system’s physical structure to its functionality
Albers, A.; Sadowski, E.
2014. An Anthology of Theories and Models of Design : Philosophy, Approaches and Empirical Explorations. Ed.: A. Chakrabarti, 151–171, Springer Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-6338-1_8
New insights on the contact&channel-approach - Modelling of systems with several logical states
Matthiesen S.; Ruckpaul A.
2012. DESIGN 2012: Proceedings of the 12th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia, May 21-24, 2012. Ed.: D. Marjanovic, 1019–1028, The Design Society
Seven Years of Product Development in Industry - Experiences and Requirements for Supporting Engineering Design with ’Thinking Tools’
Matthiesen, S.
2011. Impacting society through engineering design: ICED 11 København. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering Design, Copenhagen, Denmark, August 15th-18th, 2011. Vol. 9: Design methods and tools Pt. 1. Ed.: S. Culley, 236–245, The Design Society
Ein Beitrag zur Basisdefinition des Elementmodells "Wirkflächenpaare & Leitstützstrukturen" zum Zusammenhang von Funktion und Gestalt technischer Systeme. PhD dissertation
Matthiesen, S.
2002. Karlsruhe 2002. (Forschungsberichte. Institut für Maschinenkonstruktionslehre und Kraftfahrzeugbau, Universität Karlsruhe (TH). 6.) Fak. f. Maschinenbau, Diss. v. 21.10.2002., Universität Karlsruhe (TH). doi:10.5445/IR/12092002

Overview of all IPEK Publications

An overview of all IPEK publications can be found here.