Abstraction fosters reuse by providing a class of artifacts that can be instantiated or customized to produce a set of artifacts meeting different specific requirements. It is proposed that significant leverage can be obtained by abstracting software system designs and the design process. The result of such an abstraction is a generic architecture and a set of knowledge-based, customization tools that can be used to instantiate the generic architecture. An approach for designing software systems based on the above idea are described. The approach is illustrated through an implemented example, and the advantages and limitations of the approach are discussed.