Form, Function, Emotion: Designing for the Human Experience

DS 74: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (E&PDE12) Design Education for Future Wellbeing, Antwerp, Belguim, 06-07.9.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Elaver, Richard Anthony
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Appalachian State University, United States of America
Section: Design Education in Practice
Page(s): 267-272
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


The goal of this paper is to introduce an approach to teaching design as a cultural act of meaning-making. This has the potential benefit of making better-informed participants in the system of design, production, and consumption – creating discerning designers and consumers who are more sensitive to the world of products as artifacts. There is more to the success of a product than how it looks (form), or how it works (function). There is also the more sensitive aspect of how people feel about a product (emotion). While form, function, and emotion can be equally important in design, it is the synergy of the three that is essential to success. It could be argued that the most valuable skill of a designer is the ability to synthesize these diverse needs into cohesive solutions. To do this, it becomes useful to consider products as personalities, and to reflect on the relationships that we (as consumers) have with those personalities. Product personalities are communicated through the form language of product semantics, which involves the selective application of forms that signify desired attributes. In this way, designers are reconstructing meaning from the existing language of cultural forms, communicating with users through a system of non-verbal, and often pre-conscious signs, in order to create products that resonate with consumers.

Keywords: Industrial design, product semantics, emotional design


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