Abstract

Research in design aesthetics usually focuses on how products are experienced as they appear to the senses. The everyday experience of products is not an experience of appearance only, though. It can be shaped by knowledge of designers’ intentions gained through sources such as press releases, marketing campaigns, critical reviews, and guesswork. In this paper, we explore the aesthetic appreciation of products in relation to perceived designers’ intentions, as an assessment of means by which designers try to achieve certain aims. We report on an interview study in which participants reflected on a series of products in these terms. The participants’ reflections indicate that the appreciation of a product depends on a perceived set of alternatives assumed for both the product and the aim. Determinants of aesthetic pleasure such as novelty are based on these assumed alternatives, rather than on mere product appearance. Ultimately, we find that a product can be perceived to be beautiful not only because of how it looks, but also because of how it works as a means to achieve a given aim.

Keywords:

Aesthetic experience; Aesthetic pleasure; Design aesthetics; Product experience; User experience

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Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

Can a Light Switch Be Beautiful? Aesthetic Appreciation of Products as Means

Research in design aesthetics usually focuses on how products are experienced as they appear to the senses. The everyday experience of products is not an experience of appearance only, though. It can be shaped by knowledge of designers’ intentions gained through sources such as press releases, marketing campaigns, critical reviews, and guesswork. In this paper, we explore the aesthetic appreciation of products in relation to perceived designers’ intentions, as an assessment of means by which designers try to achieve certain aims. We report on an interview study in which participants reflected on a series of products in these terms. The participants’ reflections indicate that the appreciation of a product depends on a perceived set of alternatives assumed for both the product and the aim. Determinants of aesthetic pleasure such as novelty are based on these assumed alternatives, rather than on mere product appearance. Ultimately, we find that a product can be perceived to be beautiful not only because of how it looks, but also because of how it works as a means to achieve a given aim.

 

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