Abstract Most existing work on mechanical design automation has been focused on single-state design problems. We explore a new method that solves multiple-state design problems. The proposed method uses the configuration space ( Cspace) as the basis to represent the behaviours of kinematic pairs, which are the basic building blocks from which more complex design is synthesized. Previous work in Cspace approaches are limited to the retrieval or innovation of a single kinematic pair as the design solution. We extend the Cspace approach to generate design solutions that consists of either a chain or a network of multiple kinematic pairs. An experimental program called ADCS has been implemented to verify the feasibility of the proposed design methodology. Design examples generated by ADCS are used to illustrate the major steps involved in the design synthesis process.