I expect reference designs to help getting a system, subsystem or single chip up and running. They might spark my intuition but are not expected to do so.
The 'typical' design idea is less about the application of something given than about solving a problem with deficient means: working around lack of pins, stretching design limits, and so on. The design ideas I am perceiving are far beyond reference designs. AND: these DIs are the things sparking my imagination!
What could help in a limited number of applications (thinking of SMPS and high frequency designs) is what is given in the better reference designs: layout (hints) and tips on how to address "first order" problems.
Blog Make a Frequency Plan Tom Burke 17 comments When designing a printed circuit board, you should develop a frequency plan, something that can be easily overlooked. A frequency plan should be one of your first steps ...