This presentation argues that the concepts of “tools” and “material”, in relation to it use in contemporary architectural design education, can be understood as “instruments” within design processes. The difference between them relies on, its design knowledge abstraction levels, and its mechanisms to capture, manipulate and produce design knowledge. In addition, an initial exploration of Distributed Cognition concept, in order to redefine the use of instruments in design process as Cognitive Instruments, is presented. Furthermore, a more comprehensive framework for design knowledge is presented, including a specific examination of design instruments an its role indesign processes. In the conclusions possible effects derived from the use of “instruments” in design processes are explored.