A precise market model for a well-defined class of distributed configuration design problems is presented. Given a design problem, the model defines a computational economy to allocate basic resources to agents participating in the design. The result of running these “design economies” constitutes the market solution to the original problem. After defining the configuration design framework, the mapping to computational economies and the results to date are described. For some simple examples, the system can produce good designs relatively quickly. However, analysis shows that the design economies are not guaranteed to find optimal designs, and some of the major pitfalls are identified and discussed. Despite known shortcomings and limited explorations thus far, the market model offers a useful conceptual viewpoint for analyzing distributed design problems.