A knowledge-based approach is suggested to assist a designer in the increasingly complex task of generating VLSI-chips from abstract, high-level specifications of the system. The complexity of designing VLSI-circuits has reached a level where computer-based assistance has become indispensable. Not all of the design tasks allow for algorithmic solutions. AI technique can be used, in order to support the designer with computer-aided tools for tasks not suited for algorithmic approaches. The approach described in this paper is based upon the underlying characteristics of VLSI design processes in general, comprising all stages of the design. A universal model is presented, accompanied with a recording method for the acquisition of design knowledge - strategic and task-specific - in terms of the design actions involved and their effects on the design itself. This method is illustrated by a simple design example: the implementation of the logical EXOR-component. Finally suggestions are made for obtaining a universally usable architecture of a knowledge-based system for VLSI-design.