Abstract

Philosophical assumptions influence empirical design. For example, physical shape is typically described in terms of ‘positive form and ‘negative space.’ Here, a third type of shape is proposed, called “phantom volume,” comprised of the geometrically-predictable forms delineated by movements of a product, its parts, accessories, the user’s body, and the cone of vision. Phantom volumes are critical to product function, because things cannot be used if access is blocked. This observation suggests that domestic “clutter” may be defined as the physical effect created when the phantom volume of one object is obstructed by the positive form of another — proposing a mechanical origin for psychological frustrations. The concept is illustrated with 3D renderings of a domestic coffee maker, revealing unexpectedly large and irregular phantom volumes. The quantitative 3D methodology might offer future applications in planning, research, or student assignments.

Keywords:

phantom volume, clutter, kitchen design, 3D visualization

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Aug 11th, 12:00 AM

Phantom Volume: A spatial explanation for domestic clutter

Philosophical assumptions influence empirical design. For example, physical shape is typically described in terms of ‘positive form and ‘negative space.’ Here, a third type of shape is proposed, called “phantom volume,” comprised of the geometrically-predictable forms delineated by movements of a product, its parts, accessories, the user’s body, and the cone of vision. Phantom volumes are critical to product function, because things cannot be used if access is blocked. This observation suggests that domestic “clutter” may be defined as the physical effect created when the phantom volume of one object is obstructed by the positive form of another — proposing a mechanical origin for psychological frustrations. The concept is illustrated with 3D renderings of a domestic coffee maker, revealing unexpectedly large and irregular phantom volumes. The quantitative 3D methodology might offer future applications in planning, research, or student assignments.

 

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