DEVELOPING A METHODOLOGY FOR DESIGN FOR AESTHETICS BASED ON ANALOGY OF COMMUNICATION

Ernest J. J. van Breemen Willem G. Knoop Imre Horváth Joris S. M. Vergeest

Delft University of Technology Subfaculty of Industrial Design Engineering Jaffalaan 9, NL-2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands Phone: +31 15 278 3520 Fax: +31 15 278 1839 E-mail: i.horvath@io.tudelft.nl Binh Pham School of Information Technology & Mathematical Sciences University of Ballarat PO Box 663 Ballarat, VIC 3353, Australia Phone +61 3 5327 9286 Fax +61 3 5327 9289 Email: b.pham@balarat.edu.au

Abstract
Although attempts have already been made, computer support of industrial design is still in its infancy, especially of design for aesthetics. The reason is that no methodology is available to incorporate in computer support, design aspects like appearance, pleasantness and human usage of a product. The objective of the paper is to present a methodology that facilitates development of computer support of design for aesthetics. While a designed product can trigger definite aesthetic responses to observers, it is not easy to relate these responses to the characteristics of the product. For that reason the paper focuses on the issues related to a practical coupling of intended aesthetic impressions and shape design. First it summarizes the fundamentals and knowledge related to aesthetics. Then it compares two studies on phenomenological and systematic approaches that have been carried out to model user responses to products and to identify possibilities for designers to influence those responses with the geometric design of products. Based on the generalization of the experiences a novel methodology for unifying aesthetics and design is introduced following the analogy of information communication. The problem of realizing aesthetic intents is decomposed into an activity loop that extends to statistical, syntactical, semantical and pragmatic levels of communication. Our initial experiments and tests have shown that the information communication analogy helps understanding the core problem of design for aesthetic and supports the elaboration of a quasi-formalized methodology that serves well as a base of computer tool development.

1 Introduction
The roots of understanding the aesthetics of natural and artificial things trace back to the distant past. Some two thousand years ago, the roman architect and artist Vitruvius claimed that, for human products, ‘firmitas’, ‘utilitas’ and ‘venustas’ are the key ingredients, as well as their harmony. Henry van de Velde, a Belgian architect and designer, said “Beauty is the result of clarity and system, and not an optical illusion” (De Wolff, 1992). Mijksenaar (1997) developed a scheme to measure the relative strength of these qualities for industrial design products. Nevertheless, the most fundamental interrelations have not been fully explored and clarified yet. There are several associations to explain, e.g., how the aesthetic quality is experienced: based on unconscious visual perception or, on the contrary, based on rigorous analysis and comparison with already acquired patters; what is the system of qualities we are looking for in an aesthetically pleasing product; what are the rules of formation of aesthetics; or can the qualities delivered by aesthetics be matched against any set of formalized expectations. In pursuit of developing increasingly complex products for a global market where the competitive products deliver almost the same functionality and where completely different aesthetic expectations are to be fulfilled, design for aesthetics gets more and more emphasis. With balanced prices, aesthetics is often the only factor that makes a difference and results in success or failure. Nevertheless, design for aesthetics is in lack of the proper understanding of the theoretical fundamentals and the needed computer support. Naturally, designers want to incorporate aesthetic intents into their products, but there are several problems they have to deal with. First, we have to mention the diversity of possible responses of customers to a single product. Even if the targeted groups of users are specified and their expectations are circumscribed, it is still an open issue how to translate the aesthetic properties that evoke the requested response to a product. One source of vagueness is that the language to describe aesthetics is very rich, diverse and fuzzy, where one term may have a number of meanings to different people, or many terms may imply the same or very similar meaning. Another reason is that many different characteristics of the product may act singly or in combination to evoke the responses. Furthermore, the responses may depend on other factors besides the product itself such as previous experiences or cultural background of the observers. The latter becomes more clear when we consider the aesthetic response as a feeling based response. According to Frijda (1986) feelings influence actions and that is what happens when we respond to an aesthetic stimulus for instance an action to buy a product. However, feelings are very personal so it can be explained that personal experiences and cultural background have their impact on the aesthetic response. We thus need to identify the characteristics of aesthetics and products that are relevant to the task of design for aesthetics. Our research into the state of including design for aesthetics into product design and development explored different approaches. The most elementary, and most widespread in the industry, relies completely on the aesthetic education and intention of the product designers. Other approaches are based on various levels of understanding the relationship between aesthetic and design. The methods that are focusing on one or

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g. Ruskin (1971) discussed the contrasts between the discriminatory manner of this type of perception (e. user friendliness. The authors are going to present details about how these methods are applied in the practice and how much they support design for aesthetics. a computer-orientated design for aesthetic methodology is required. Our experiences lead to the proposition of a methodology for mapping aesthetics and shape in chapter 5. In the background of the observed situation are the following facts: (a) the explicit request for computer support in the field of design for aesthetics emerged only a couple of years ago. (1790). it refers to the responses that indicate the degree of discrimination in perception when people are confronted with the design.several aspects of design for aesthetics. Based on their initial investigations they present a framework and a methodology that help develop of proper computer support. To provide effective computer support to this field of conceptual and shape design. In particular. Aesthetic design. Tolstoy. by artists) and the cursory manner of normal perception. Bearsdley. 2 Background on aesthetics and shape 2. These two approaches are respectively elaborated in chapters 3 and 4. The latter type is more utilitarian and ignores information that is not essential for everyday life. The theory of the Jacobian matrix is used to create a mathematical foundation. (1958). that are 3 . Kant.g. on the one hand. is one of the fields which will surely be in the focus of the research and development in the near future due to its role in enhancing product acceptance. etc. on the other hand. These aspects however fall almost completely out of the scope of the recently existing CAD technology. proper understanding of aesthetics is needed and. This perception depends on individual interpretation which may arise from emotional responses or comparison with previous experience. together with design for ergonomics. (b) relationship between shape and aesthetics as well as between geometric and psychological aspects is not fully understood neither from theoretical nor methodological point of view. in chapter 6. Chapter 2 starts with identifying the characteristics of aesthetics and products that are relevant to the task of design for aesthetics. Finally. that intend to cover all aspects and to put together all means in order to be able to manipulate a shape for the sake of achieving a particular impression and/or feeling will be called systematic methods. we will discuss how our proposed methodology can be applied to the development of computer support for aesthetic design.1 Aesthetic characteristics The term ‘aesthetics’ is broadly used to describe the characteristics of the appearance of a design. This chapter also presents some findings from past research and distinguishes two ways (phenomenological and systematic) of coping with the relation between aesthetics and shape. adaptability. Early theory of taste in the eighteenth century sees aesthetics as reactions in an observer. In this paper the authors explore the factors that influence the reasoning on and process of design for aesthetics. Computer-aided conceptual design and shape design is expected to support design aspects other than covered by conventional Design for X techniques. (1960). The concept of aesthetics has been extensively analyzed by philosophers for the last three centuries. e. but do not strive after being comprehensive or exhaustive will be referred to as phenomenological methods. Those however.

aesthetics does not necessarily imply originality or vice versa. • Evocative. ‘Aesthetics’ of a product is an intangible aspect which heavily influences the feeling based responses. beautiful. serene.g. hilarious. a mental state resulted from reaction to the object and a judgment of taste. an object to be perceived. concise. • Representational. • Behavioral. • Historical. describe clearly the typical reactions of an observer to an object. graceful. These terms which have been used for art criticism and evaluation. boring. • Perceptual.g.g. This emotion may be embedded in the work by an artist (or a designer) on purpose or unintentionally. e. faculty of reaction. amusing. propose a method to systematically describe style profiles of products. dull. If we want to link the aesthetics to tangible product characteristics we 4 . the attitude theory believes that the appreciation of aesthetics is more subjective and requires certain modes of perception or consciousness from the observer (Dickie. idealized or imagined. angry. Goldman (1995) proposed a classification of evaluative aesthetic terms into the following eight categories: • Broadly evaluative. powerful. Chen and Owen (1997). sensitivity or appreciation of certain type of beauty or style. distorted. joyful. Although these discussions were mainly concerned with art work such as music. balanced.g. bouncy. representation and form. which may be actual. An art work (or a design) is expressive if it arises some emotion from an observer. gave a thorough analysis of aesthetic objects in literature. e. sluggish. while form refers to the totality of the shape and the structure. e. sad. Representation refers to the content of the design art work (design). Although the originality of style gives rise to the singular individuality of a design and often enhances its value. It has been commonly accepted by many researchers in this field of philosophy that there are three basic characteristics of the work (like product characteristics in design) that could be used for evaluation: expression. dreary. original. Beardsley (1958) who viewed aesthetics as a philosophy of criticism. visual arts and music. five essential components are involved: faculty of perception. painting. What seems to be elusive is the relationship between these terms and the characteristics of the object in question. e. drawing and literary work. stirring. sublime. experiences or ideas.g. organization and composition of an object.g. Representation and form are the most easily identifiable properties. Art Deco). and discussed the nature of critical evaluation of aesthetics.g. artificial. conservative. Since then. e. while taste refers to personal preferences.triggered by a specific kind of object. A style refers to designs which possess a number of recognizable common characteristics (e. the ideas are also relevant to creative product designs by industrial design engineers. e. e. On the other hand. • Emotional. but also on what the representations may evoke via association with other elements such as emotions. Stiny and Gips (1978) later proposed another category called transparency which refers to cases where the reactions to art works (designs) depend on not only their representations. derivative. flashy. realistic.g.g. • Formal. jaunty. 1974). ugly. Thus. many philosophers have attempted to formalize the properties and meanings of aesthetics for evaluative purposes. vivid. e. The concepts of style and originality are also often connected with aesthetics.

2. However. Both terms are mixed in the descriptions and used in a tautological way.2 Product characteristics Since product design is a constructive process. surfaces. (x 3. etc. Even the Websters dictionary cannot give a precise description of shape and form. because they provide us exact descriptions on the structure. because the danger exist that the (subjective) variables represent only a subset of the total aesthetic space and might also be interdependent. lines. We have seen that it is possible to formulate aesthetic variables which can span the aesthetic dimension in which the product is represented.y2) . for instance. form and geometry are ambiguous terms. (x 2. The relation between geometry and form is unidirectional in the sense that one form represents multiple (and in fact infinitive) geometries but a 5 . We could say that besides spatial specification. An example of form is a triangle. that two different sets of aesthetic variables are used to describe a product. care has to be taken in working with these variables. It is a more generalized descriptive term. We believe that the three most basic characteristics that influence the aesthetics of a product are: shape.y3) } Figure 1 Product characteristics and the interaction with aesthetic characteristics.need to describe the product in an aesthetic dimension.y1) . High-level characteristics such as style or fashion may be dealt with by expressing them in terms of these three basic characteristics. In the studies we present in chapter 3 and 4 it is seen. and specific properties of geometric elements. composition and physical attributes. geometry has no further contribution and only supports the aesthetic-shape mapping process. One level above the geometry we find form. It is in fact the mathematical documentation of points. Shape feature Shape Expresses Composition Physical Attributes Aesthetic characteristics Influences Form Triangles Supports Geometry { (x 1. In the framework of this paper we therefore start with defining geometry as the lowest level explicit description of a three dimensional point set in space. Topology and morphology are placed on the same level as geometry. as it is a category of geometries existing as three interconnected straight lines. we need to examine the characteristics at the most basic level to be of use for integrating aesthetic intents with design. which is to our definition a categorical representation of global properties of the geometry. Shape.

texture. As stated before it is the geometry which makes shapes tangible and supports the formalization process. 1993). 1995). In relation to aesthetic characteristics the role of shape is to express them. For example. 1992) and reliable ways to gather marketing intelligence to incorporate in product design. to concentrate on how these basic characteristics of a product influence the appreciation of its aesthetics. develop models of customer (subjective) judgments (Snelders. in a similar way as shape does. may be deployed for analyzing and comparing aesthetic characteristics of design. This object is a set of sharp edges. individually or in combination. So shape is an abstract generalization of the local geometric properties. shape is defined as the totality of local characteristics of the geometry. 1993. In psychology and philosophy many studies have been focused on emotions and feelings (Frijda. both shape and colour characteristics may be described as being `harmonious’. 2. Miles et al. drawing and literary work. 1995. 1993. An example of shape is the star-like object in Figure 1. In fact they add different attributes to the shape and contribute to the total impression of an object. Typically. Physical attributes such as colour.3 A brief review of the past research A survey of literature has revealed that although researchers have analysed the concept of aesthetics for over three hundred years. But in contrast to the global characteristics. Shape is seen on a higher level than geometry as well. which indeed make the object a star. with distinct meanings. The local geometric properties are shape features which form the basis for shape manipulation on a semantic level. hence cannot be examined in isolation from shape. for the time being. et al. and to leave out other aspects. many aesthetic descriptive terms are shared by more than one of the three main characteristics. 1986). 1995. Reich. In marketing research many studies try to explain consumer behavior. we believe that the essence of these terms can be related to the three basic characteristics of objects. Very few attempts were focused on design (e. et al. these efforts generally were concerned with music. 1971). the local shape features..geometry has only one form. Ruskin. In the realm of industrial design Claessen (1996) has explored the relation of color and shape. de Bont.. (1992) developed a system to obtain a computer model from 6 . color appearance). Some physical attributes also depend directly on shape characteristics (e. In civil engineering several attempts have been made to develop systems to design aesthetically pleasing bridges and dams (Furuta. Referring to the above definitions composition expresses how shape features are arranged and therefore act on the same level as shape with respect to the aesthetic characteristics. Since our aim is to provide a general methodology to include aesthetic aspects into product design. The main difference to the before mentioned aesthetic characteristics is the tangibility of the product characteristics which provides for a formal description in computer algorithms. lighting conditions or material properties also influence aesthetic characteristics. Guidelines for good compositions which have been recommended by artists and designers for attaining visually pleasing and interesting objects (e.g. In the case of a product form typically influences the aesthetic characteristics. painting. Although the terms to describe aesthetic characteristics are rich and complex.g. and even less explored the relation between aesthetics and shape.g. Pye. it seems to be practical. Kurango.

7 . In short. • Determine how these responses are based on product characteristics. have suggested computer oriented methods that help develop products by using aesthetic intentions or sketches and develop these into detailed designs. (1997). to some extent. systematic techniques tackle the problem penetratingly. and identifies possibilities for designers to influence those responses with the design of products.sketches or mock-up 3D-models. The reason of the existence of these indirect and direct methods is the lack of understanding of and agreement on what is the intrinsic relationship between aesthetic features and design parameters of products. knowledge of translating those into new products. design processes and. • Make categories of corresponding customer profiles. these can be distinguished as phenomenological approaches and systematic approaches. using knowledge of customers. The other part endeavors to explain the phenomena of raising emotions towards a product by assuming a physically determined relationship between aesthetic features and the design variables governing the geometry. The study is based on a theoretical model of how people’s "feeling based responses" emerge. researchers have been making efforts for unification of aesthetics and design both in theory and in practice. designers. Our literature survey shows that there exist several alternatives of inclusion of aesthetic aspects into the design process of consumer products. rather than superficially only. • Incorporate these product characteristics in requirements for new designs. From a design methodological point of view. Based on the theoretical considerations Desmet proposes the following phases in product development to design products with an emotional benefit: • Determine customers' profile(s) of initiating and additional needs and their resulting expectations. products and processes. Nevertheless. A common feature of both intuitive and systematic methods is applying experiments to consumers.1 Fundamentals of the study Desmet (1998) uses theory from psychology of emotions to model user responses to products.. and what are the functional attributes desired by the customers (-groups). no objective method of managing aesthetics is known since aesthetics proved to be a subjective. The goal is to help design products with an "emotional benefit" and is illustrated in the field of mobile phones. relative and phenomenological category. Phenomenological techniques work on a intuitive level and do not strive after a deep understanding of the role of shape features in controlling feelings evoked. feeling) to connect shape and aesthetics. • Determine the intended "feeling based response" of every customer group. Takala and Woodward (1998) and recently Hsiao and Chen. Do these conflict or correspond with meanings of the product. 3 An example of the phenomenological approach 3.g. The objective is to form a methodology based on scientific exploration. procedural formalizing and involvement of computing. Wallace and Jakiela (1993). A part of the research work tried to include psychological aspects (e. and clarifies the relation between feelings and products. On the other hand. observation.

they do not want to attract attention. A common expectation is that they also want mobile phones to comply with their search for a balance in spending money.The study shows how the so-called expression profiles of two groups of customers were determined and translated to product requirements. no sharp edges large display. want to balance their patterns of spending money. In this study mobile phones are analyzed. These two groups of people have distinct expectations. 1988) how the general meaning a product expresses. Trend Followers want a product to impress others. unobtrusive Profile of expressions sober professional business-like reliable pleasant easy Table 1 Shape characteristics block like. few keys. want to help people in distress. Based on this data new designs were proposed and responses to them were measured 3. robust i. no stress. design.2 Determination of the target user profile To determine customer profiles Desmet studied (based on Reynolds and Gutman. and want freedom of movement. with one clear function.e. time and energy. acts as stimulus on three levels: attributes. user interface and costs. The found expectations together with remarks during the interviews lead to: • • • relevant initiating and additional needs desired consequences of using a mobile phone lists of functional attributes of mobile phones.: nothing pointing out. no stress. concerning memory. in rows and columns Care Style: Security Seekers Example of the expression profile and related shape characteristics used to generate concepts for new mobile phones. range. Security Seekers expect their products to provide calmness. The study resulted in categorization of customers into two "care styles": Trend Followers and Security Seekers. colors black or dark gray no small parts. consequences and end-values. size. no large fillets subdued surface. and customers are interviewed with laddering techniques to determine what structure of meaning these products have for a group of customers. no curved surfaces. batteries. and want to maintain a good relationship with other people. time and energy. 8 . Expectations to be expressed by product characteristics: Calmness.

to be able to carry it anywhere. based on Russell. and Watson and Tellegen. These were developed into four shape alternatives: (see Figure 3). The Trend Followers want an eyecatching. Two were developed to evoke intended quiet tranquil still inactive idle passive 9 .). whereas Trend Followers had a pleasing aroused feeling. professional expression. sober. (1980). a space with the dimensions "activation" and "pleasantness” expression profiles were assembled compiling terms that summarize what the products should express with the help of terms the customers used (Table 1). two Figure 2 The circumplex of affect.The design the Security Seekers look for in a mobile phone is restraint. who distinguishes the dimensions "Activation" and "Pleasantness" to characterize feelings. (1985). because the concerns and intended feeling based responses are different for the two care style groups. Both groups want small size products each for their own reasons: Security Seekers for reasons of unobtrusiveness and discretion. looking both professional and whimsical. The results of this experiment was that Security Seekers had a pleasing calm feeling with the product of their preference. cunning design. 3. The response to these products was measured with an instrument based on the work of among others Izard (1972). with lots of fun and contrasts. The shape characteristics are determined in an experiment in which both care style groups were confronted with eight existing mobile phones. Source: Larsen and Diener.3 Translation of intended feelings to and appraisal of the new designs Desmet concluded that. The instrument uses non-linguistic means for subjects to express their feelings about a product (see Figure 2. He continued by using the extended expression profiles. distressed annoyed fearful nervous jittery anxious activated unpleasant affect unhappy miserable sad grouchy gloomy blue aroused astonished stimulated surprised active intense enthousiastic elated excited euphoric high activation lively peppy activated pleasant affect happy delighted glad cheerful warmhearted pleased unpleasant pleasant inactivated unpleasant affect dull tired drowsy sluggish bored droopy Low activation inactivated pleasant affect relaxed content at rest calm serene at ease Finally. (1992). together with (designer specific) collages to design some 26 concepts of new products of which he selected 8 to progress with. Trend Followers for making a better impression because small is more expensive looking. pleasant with a business-like. The experiment lead to a selection of a ‘feeling based response’ based on measured feelings and a ranking of the products. These responses were taken as the feelings that new products should evoke in the target groups. to make the customers expectations operational. no single product can be developed to produce an emotional benefit for people in both groups.

The other two were added for validation purposes. evokes certain feelings. profiles resulting from the judgment on aspects. The newly designed mobile phones The designed products were then presented to the subjects who again expressed the feelings they experienced using the circumplex of emotions. 10 . using collages and Desmets’ design skills to generate ideas and concepts to Figure 3 select for continuation of the study. 4 An example of the systematic approach 4. All analyses resulted in the conclusion that the framework developed lets the designer influence the ‘feeling based response’ of respondents by means of the shape of the product. and were designed to evoke pleasing aroused feelings in Security Seekers (“Argus”) and pleasing calm feeling in Trend Followers (“Luna”). The analyzed data resulted in an overview of the responses in the circumplex of feelings. The translation of the selected intentions to a new product design was done by using the shape sensitivity gathered by performing the research. the driver seat and the position of the engine. and a factor analysis of the data. He illustrates that a symmetric space division radiates peace and balance while an asymmetric division leads to feelings of dynamics. The scope of this study is limited to the aesthetic-to-shape relation.feelings: “Logica” to evoke a pleasing calm feeling in Security Seekers. Muller (1997) already argued that for instance the division of space between the wheel. This is the most intuitive part of the process. The study has not explained however what is to be done with a different product and a different cluster of users. A subset of the aesthetic characteristics is compared with perceived geometric data. Additionally the subjects stated their relative preference for the designs. The work is extracted from the BriteEuRam project on Innovative Styling Applications in Computer Aided Environments (INSTANCE). “Helix” to evoke a pleasing aroused feeling in Trend Followers. In this way we are able to discuss about part of the relation from aesthetic characteristics to shape or the understanding how aesthetics evokes feeling (the upper path in Figure 8). and gave a judgment on the issues in the expression profiles.1 Fundamentals of the study In this section we present a systematic approach that is also intended to link aesthetics aspects and geometry. despite the arguments no formalised methodology is mentioned to link these aesthetic characteristics with the definition of geometry. However. in the design of sports cars. an overview of the ranking. The basic aim of the project was to investigate and compare expression and (perceived) geometry for both stylistic sketches and the resulting products in automotive design.

The two subject groups. Among the challenging questions that were to be answered in this study were: Figure 4 Concept sketches and prototypes that were used as stimuli. in which the following meaning was given: 11 . These terms are frequently used in automotive industry and cover most of the expressive qualities of cars. (a) What is the relation between expression and geometry in automotive design? (b) Can we explain differences in expression by those in geometry? (c) How does expression/geometry propagate through a design process? (d) Is there a difference in the interpretation of two different groups of designers? 4. friendly. 3 industrial designers) were involved for judging the material.2 Measuring aesthetic characteristics The aesthetic focus of the study was the perceived expression by the subjects. although questions can be raised about the independence of these subjective aesthetic terms and the completeness of the description of the aesthetic dimension by these variables. In reference to the aesthetic dimensions which were mentioned in section 2. functional and elegant. Each subject was confronted with the stimuli and appointed a value between 0 and 4 for each expressive term.1 we think that the terms used in this study represent a subset of the complete space of aesthetic characteristics. designs and product development phase. Six subjects (3 automotive designers. five different car designs and also the documentation of the initial product idea and prototype of a single car could be compared. which was broken down into four terms: aggressive. This allows for data interpretation along the three dimensions: subjects.The representative sample in this study was taken from 5 different automotive projects and consisted of a concept sketch and a photograph of the finished prototype (see Figure 4).

8 product 0.0 3.8 3.2 2. The mouse serves as a tool to position the pushpin.0 2.5 2. For both the stylistic sketches and the photographs of the prototypes the perceived surface is measured by the method described by Koenderink. 4.5 2.0 2. The pushpin An example of different pushpin positions on a surface 12 .2 2.7 0.7 functional sketch 0.7 product 1. The values are the averages for all subjects. By adjusting a pushpin like cursor.7 2. functional or elegant not very aggressive. the subject is able to indicate the local orientation of the surface (see Figure 5). which is projected on the picture.3 elegant sketch 2.2 3.3 3. and tilt is its wind direction like a compass needle.0 3.8 1. friendly.7 1. friendly.7 2.2 2.7 2. functional or elegant very aggressive. functional or elegant neutral quite aggressive.3 Determination of the product shape The shape of the product in this study is practically the perceived shape. Average results for the expressive terms for all stimuli. The subject is asked to adjust the pushpin like he thinks the disk of the pushpin lies on the surface. Figure 5 When the subject is ready positioning the pushpin it is indicated by the mouse as well.8 3.7 product 3.8 2. Slant is the degree to which the pushpin leans backwards.5 1.7 2.8 0.2 1. All car sketches are perceived more aggressive and elegant while the prototypes are experienced as more friendly and functional.5 aggressive sketch car1 car2 car3 car4 car5 3. friendly.0 1 2 3 4 - not at all aggressive. For each expressive term table 2 gives the judgment for the sketch and the product prototype of each car. The orientation is described by the slant and tilt of the surface normal. In this method a subject is sitting behind a computer monitor which displays an image of the stimulus.8 3.0 2. 1995). friendly.8 3.3 0. Basically they developed the method to extract three dimensional surface information from the perception of two dimensional images. functional or elegant friendly sketch 0.0 0.2 1.5 product 0. We will further discuss the values of table 2 in section 4.4.5 2. (1992. et al.3 Table 2.2 0.

This is indicated by the line drawn along the meshed surfaces.0 to 1. For every pair of vertices a local depth is computed. For instance for car4 the rating for elegance drops from 2. while the final vertex depth value is estimated by a curve fitting procedure using a least squares criterion where the Figure 6 Triangulated image and 3D reconstructed surface for mean depth value is one of the stimuli.5. The positioning is done on a (normally invisible) triangular snap grid. 13 . As an illustration both perceived shapes of this car are presented in Figure 7. After the evaluation of the picture the raw data of slant and tilt for every vertex is computed into a local surface normal. The other cars showed the same characteristics so it was concluded that an “edgy” surface as experienced in the prototypes gives a less elegant object.4 Comparison between tangible shape characteristics and intangible emotions After the investigation of the aesthetic feelings and the documentation of the perceived geometry the data was compared across the subjects and the stimuli. it was found that sketches were experienced as more stretched or directed. As an example. Figure 6 shows how the stylistic sketch of car1 was triangulated and how one of the subjects saw its shape. The geometry differs in the sense that the connection between the hood and the windscreen is experienced sharper in the prototypes. As an illustration we will elaborate on the findings on elegance. 4.y) value of the grid a depth value z can be added and a 3D-reconstruction of the perceived surface made. In this way perceptual data on 60 surfaces was obtained. set to zero. On average the subjects felt that the prototypes were less elegant than the sketches.will now be positioned the next point on the picture. Now for each (x. In this study all images were triangulated and evaluated with the Koenderink method by the subjects. This was indicated by the occurrence of pronounced long shapes in the surface meshes. Furthermore.

The judgment of shape characteristics was based on subjective qualities like: the surface is stretched or the surface is edgy. the use of reflections in stylistic drawings. Packaging restrictions and manufacturing issues might form a major cause for the change in geometry. This was illustrated using a phenomenological approach. The next chapter will build on these 14 . In this way we can extend our understanding of the aesthetics towards the space of design variables (Figure 8). lead to more articulated surfaces for the automotive designers. Nevertheless. Referring to Figure 8 we can position the research presented in chapter 3 as an approach to investigate the complete “loop” of understanding how aesthetic evokes feeling and how to design aesthetically pleasing products. Chapter 4 elaborates on the upper path only in Figure 8 of understanding how aesthetic evokes feeling. However. One of the explanations in this specific field is the enormous amount if engineering restrictions that has to be taken into account during the product development process.The previous example shows that there must exist a relation between expression and perceived geometry (question a). An interesting future issue is to look at a comparison of the perceived shape of the image of the product prototype and the actual geometry which of course is known. in the described research a systematic scientific method was used giving us more formal information about the phenomena than the extended expressive profiles as used in the study of Desmet. second question (b) because different designed geometries to measure the intended aesthetics were not used like in the study in chapter 3. A difference in the expressive judgment between the sketches and the prototype (question c) was observed. some shape interpretation differences between both groups of designers (question d) were seen. This can also be seen in the expressive term whereas the functionality shows to be higher in the final prototype in which the functional requirements are integrated in the design. Finally. Figure 7 The perceived shapes of car4 for the This study does not answer the sketch and the product. which are used to exaggerate certain shape intentions. The method used is systematic but more data is needed to generalize conclusions. In the context of this paper we have seen that several efforts already have been made to investigate the link between aesthetic and product characteristics. it seems to be possible to find some handles to cope with these subjective qualities. Geometry tends to be more edgy later on in the process. Especially.

Aesthetics is a simultaneous communication of meaning and beauty. if not impossible. 1996). The relationship between aesthetic appreciation and design is rather vague. The fundamental concept: the analogy of information communication Prior to the development of a computer-supported design for aesthetics methodology we have to model this specific communication process. since an {F } 3 analogy with communication {V } 4 Designing of aesthetic intent can be aesthetically pleasing products observed. involving aesthetics knowledge explicitly is very difficult. It also raises philosophical issues about the relation between human beings and artefacts they create. the theory of design for aesthetics has to explain how meaning and beauty are communicated by a particular manifestation of an objects. texture. Thus the correspondence between the elements (groups) of the two spaces is vague and is not straightforward. because the how aesthetic {F } principles of general evokes feelings 1 {V } 2 information communication {F } 4 {V } are rather well known and. The most intrinsic issue of development of a design for aesthetics methodology is how to implement the mapping between the space of aesthetic features and the space of shape-induced geometric parameters. material and other visual properties play also important role. personal. in finding out the Space of aesthetic Space of design characteristics variables knowledge processing fundamentals of the needed Figure 8 The problem of two ways mapping 15 . This fact makes the task complicated. The principal medium of communication is the shape of an object. On Understanding the one hand.2.experiences and propose a general methodology for linking aesthetic characteristics and shape. In commercialized CACD/CAD systems. aesthetics of objects has to be addressed individually. on {F } 1 2 {V } 3 the other hand. Actually the totality of these object properties makes impression on us and exerts emotion. sociological. 5 A methodology for unifying aesthetics and design 5. facts. What we miss is and processing the aesthetics related design knowledge.1 The need for knowledge intensive support of aesthetic design Although its importance is well known. It can be apprehended through the involvement of psychological aspects only and it is strongly influenced by cultural. but the colour. therefore. support of aesthetics stopped at the level of fast shape prototyping and of expressing visual intent by manipulation of shape (surface) features. Therefore. We accepted the fact that any aesthetic judgement is necessarily a potential feature of the way in which we attend to objects (Palmer and Dodson. 5. formalized and systematized manipulation of aesthetic concepts is almost in its infancy. That is. etc. Present feature technology is closely linked to conventional geometric modeling engines.

design for aesthetic manifests in a closing loop (Figure 8). On the statistical level of communication. the fifth level. These are (a) statistical. Our investigation revealed that the loop unifying aesthetics and design. Figure 9 shows the communication{F } 1 {F } 4 {F } 2 {F } 3 Process of understanding how aesthetics evokes feelings Space of aesthetic characteristics Space of design variables {V } 1 {V } 4 {V } 2 {V } 3 Experiment with typical objects Clustering objects based on feelings Exploring common characteristics Identifying shape characteristics Understanding the influence of shape Statistical level Syntactical level Semantical level Pragmatic level Figure 9 The communication model of understanding how aesthetics interacts with people 16 . In communication aesthetics the meaning is delivered by shape properties. and what designers should do to be able to communicate an aesthetic message and achieve emotional satisfaction and attraction to certain shapes. In the looping process formed by the activities that are targeted to explore and understand why and how does an object evoke feelings and by those that are to design a product achieving a conceived aesthetic impression. (c) semantical and (d) pragmatic level. On the semantic level the meaning of the patterns of signals is reasoned out. In addition. contrary to the one directional methodology of conventional design for X techniques. This information is however implicit and the meaning cannot be completely separated from its interpretation.3. magnitude and distribution of physical signals are dealt with. recent studies circumscribe a fifth level that is orientated to explain what the motivation and the behavioral background of the sender was. None of the mentioned levels is able to provide effective communication in itself.methodology we can rely on the theory of communication in information technology. similar communication levels. Consequently. From the theory of communication it is well-known that four levels can be identified in the information transmission process. might open up new dimensions in understanding the deepest knowledge related to communication of aesthetic properties. Although not explored exhaustively. On the syntactical level the patterns of the signals are extracted and interpreted. on the pragmatic level the context and the goal of the communication are interpreted. 5. The contents of the levels however differ depending on which side of the loop they refer to. (b) syntactical. It means that. that is called apobethical. Finally. aesthetic designers first have to understand how shape evokes feeling in the case of a particular product and a cluster of consumers. the amount. is formed by the linked activities of understanding how a particular shape of a given product evokes feelings. In communication of information the semantic content is carried by digital/analogue signals. Understanding aesthetics for shape design The analogy of communication facilitates mapping between the space of aesthetic features (evoked feelings) and shape parameters.

impressions and the feelings bring us to the syntactic level of communication. This instituted knowledge can be formalized in the knowledge base of a computer-aided design for aesthetics system. It is also investigated if any of the previously less dominating characteristics change significantly. The semantical level of communication relates the explored aesthetic characteristics to the shapes of objects and analyses the correspondences. due to their aesthetically similar or resembling shapes. formulation of relations cannot be deterministic. This specification of the initial shape belongs to the 17 . Although the aesthetic factors were implicitly treated. Only a fuzzy clustering is possible since the objects can be sorted into more than one cluster based on their aesthetic characters of different dominance. A representative set of objects of different observable aesthetic characteristics is put together. This way clues are formed for the possible relationship. It can be used either for data analysis or aesthetics pattern recognition. In order to understand how meaning and beauty interacts with people an experimental sub-process is executed. Fuzzy clustering is one of the conceived advanced modeling techniques that are useful for data classification and pattern recognition problems.4. The shape properties are modified and the potential users are asked to judge whether the previously recognised aesthetic characteristics become stronger or weaker. It is an iterative technique that seeks to compute a membership function that indicates to what degree a data point belongs to a given cluster. or remain intact. Potential consumers/users are asked to select those objects that. designers should generate an initial shape that fulfils functional requirements. The specifications of the corresponding aesthetic properties form the perceptual part of the vocabulary of design for aesthetics. The next step is the exploration and naming of aesthetic characteristics common for the objects in a cluster. Aesthetics stimulated by shape design Above we described the explorative sub-process that is orientated to understand how shape influences feelings. The users are asked to circumscribe the aesthetic properties they observed and recognized as well as to depict the feelings the objects individually evoked in them. The initial shape is depicted from geometric. As a starting step. The verbal descriptions of the observations. topological and morphological point of view. can be sorted into the same cluster. In principle it is directed from the space of design variables to the space of aesthetic characteristics. we can conclude a synthesized knowledge about the influence of the shape for the designers.based model of understanding how aesthetics interacts with people. The activities mentioned above are related to the statistical level of communication. Since the shape is influenced by the less dominant aesthetic characteristics too. This is repeated for all of the clusters in the same way with the same objective. Figure 10 shows the creative part of the looping process that relates to systematically designing aesthetically pleasing products. 5. Only the most dominating aesthetic characteristics are taken into consideration and it is investigated which shape features might result in that particular characteristics. On pragmatic level the adequacy of matching the aesthetic characteristics with global and local shape properties is tested. The specifications are based on linguistic variables that express a kind of common understanding of the aesthetic characteristics. The communication analogy also supports setting up an experimental process to explore and systematize the related knowledge.

g. number of components. fashion.g. brandmarks) are also taken into consideration. Then the shape is globally crystallised to come up with the needed observable shape characteristics (e.. colour. We will introduce a set-theoretic description of such mapping in order to investigate the feasibility of the steps (1) and (2) mentioned. On this level of communication additional design aspects (e. we argued that an implementation of a mapping between the two spaces is a prerequisite for any methodology of design for aesthetics. texture. On the semantical level. 5. A set-theoretical formalism seems very appropriate to 18 . The development of such a methodology involves (1) obtaining the mapping and (2) employing the mapping as part of the methodology. However. style. proportions. Global shaping leads us to the syntactical level of communication since it further specifies the meaning but it does not make it complete. etc. the shape designing process manipulates local properties in order to incorporate subject related aspects (e. those values of shape parameters as to achieve a design model conform the intention. human preferences..g.1.). This advance measuring of the evoked feelings however backtrack us to the explorative sub-process which aspire to explain "feeling based responses" to products. for an expressed aesthetic intent. distortion.Pragmatic level Semantical level Syntactical level Statistical level Contolling by user experiments Finishing the product image Designing local shape features Designing global shape features Designing of the functioning shape Process of designing aesthetically pleasing products {F } 1 {F } 4 {F } 2 {F } 3 Space of aesthetic characteristics Space of design variables {V } 1 {V } 4 {V } 2 {V } 3 Figure 10 The communication model of how aesthetics can be expressed trough design statistical level of communication. the correspondence between the space of shape-induced geometric parameters and the space of aesthetic features is vague... material.5 Toward a formalism for the mapping between shape parameters and aesthetic characteristics As mentioned in section 5. On the pragmatic level users’/customers’ opinions are collected to measure satisfaction and to further improve aesthetic impressiveness. morphological articulation. Idealistically the mapping specifies. extent. etc. As a part of the semantical communication the additional design aspects are also manipulated to achieve emotional impacts. Our initial experiments and tests have shown that the information communication analogy helps in understanding the core problem addressed in this paper and supports the elaboration of a quasi-formalized methodology that can be used in the future as the base of tool development to model shapes which a certain aesthetic intent.). type.

2}. Two examples of aesthetic variables are.e. discrete. s2 has type “angle between arm and body” and value domain {“zero”. is a fundamental issue to be discussed later. For given d ∈ D there exists exactly one s ∈ S such that (d. Let d denote a description of a design object. an} where each of the elements specifies (1) a type and (2) a value domain. where we assume that d ∈ D is accepted. by some people at some point in time. The types are assumed to capture sufficient semantics. These RS and RA specify which properties (in terms of si and aj) apply to a given d and. s) ∈ RS (S is nondeterministic) 19 . For given d ∈ D there exist multiple s ∈ S such that (d. a label such as “height” conveys all necessary information in some context. For given s ∈ S there exist multiple d ∈ D such that (d. s) ∈ RS (S is incomplete) 2. For given d ∈ D there exists no s ∈ S such that (d. -1. A is the Cartesian product of the domains from the shape variables. “wide”} s3 has type “y-co-ordinate of the 23d control point” and its value domain is ℜ. we wish to determine the subsets RS ⊆ D × S and RA ⊆ D × A. context specification and relationship between objects. As is common in verbal communication. ordinal. It is useful to consider whether or not each of the following statements apply to the relation RS: 1. s) ∈ RS (S is ambiguous) 4. “sharp”. s) ∈ RS (S is unique) 3. 1. 0. The proposed formalism. We assume that at some point in time. as representing the design object at hand. We give three examples of possible shape variables: • • • s1 has type “height” and value domain ℜ+. nominal or even arbitrary. will mainly be based on the value domains of the variables. i. a finite number of shape variables si and aesthetic variables ai are relevant. which objects in D comply to specified tuples of S and A. We are interested in the relation between a given design model d and points in S and A. a2. …. • • a1 has type “harmony” and value domain {-2. “angry”. “serene”} We define the space S as the Cartesian product of the domains of s1…sm. conversely. s) ∈ RS (S is too rich. “joyful”.clarify such fundamental issues as object identity. or D too poor) 5. sm} and {a1. s) ∈ RS (S is deterministic) 6. Similarly. The value domains may be continuous. For given s ∈ S there exists exactly one d ∈ D such that (d. d is in general a member of some Universe of Discourse D. The two aforementioned spaces will be referred to as the space S of shape variables and the space A of aesthetic variables.s2. …. For given s ∈ S there exists no d ∈ D such that (d. where × denotes the Cartesian product. These variables are contained in the sets {s1. a2 has type “emotionality” and value domain {“sad”. however.

D • The same evaluation can be made for relation RA. which. 8. i. it is common that a given model is achievable using different values for the variables.sm).…. If two design models in D are different. For convenience of notation we write a point in A as the n-tuple (a1. Each point in A is associated to exactly one design model in D.an)) First we examine what the implications would be of the mapping f defined in equation (1). Some design models in D may have no associated point in A. hence we should write f(a1. each of the shape variables si defined by f(a1. These include: 1. is specified by a unique instance of the shape variables.…. Let us assume.…. for a while.….…. is a function of all aesthetic variables. A parametric modeling system typically has RS with property 5 for all s ∈ S. there R is a S A→S is equivalent to (FS).an) (1) (see Figure 11). or both may be existent and be the same or different. However. so will their associated points in S. If a designer • • (or a system) fails to produce a model for a A S f particular m-tuple of S then RS has property 4. In general. their associated points in A may be both nonexistent. Similarly. that RS has Figure 11 In the most simple property 2 for all d ∈ D and additionally has S situation the mapping f : property 5 for all s ∈ S.e. Each point in A maps (using f) to one point in S. rather than a type and a value.bijective function F : S → D. A S F F property 2 needs not to apply. … . where ai is understood to denote a value.an) = (FS)-1 °FA(a1. 2. it is possible to relax some of the restrictions as we will show later. 4. sm).an). 7. let us 1 assume the existence of a surjective (but ° FA. Similarly. If two design models in D are different. The interpretation of equation (1) is as follows. possibly not injective) function FA : A → D.an) = (s1. 5. 6. For any instance of the aesthetic variables we can identify some design model.…. However. This procedure obviously has a very restricted extent. Two points in A may map to the same point in S. a point in S is written in the form (s1. Each design model in D has exactly one associated point in S. 20 . one may be nonexistent. acting as a candidate relation RA. for given f. The mapping f: A → S from aesthetic variables to shape variables can then be defined as f(a1. Each point in S-space is associated to exactly one design model in D.…. 3.…. fm(a1. an).an) = (f1(a1.…. in turn.

It is important to verify whether or not these observations depend on the restrictions that we introduced for equation (1).e. were introduced and their value domains specified in figure 2. In accordance to observation 2.…. Another important observations is as follows: Observation 2: The specification of a mapping f from A to S involves the existence of at least one member d∈D. Finally. If it was found that for relatively many elements in D a value αi of variable ai correlated with value σj of variable sj. S = ℜm and A = ℜn. i. the specifications using terms in one space are not equivalent to specifications in terms of the other space. new designs) as follows. Next. This can be regarded as an attempt to establish the relation RA between the spaces D and A (if we consider intensity and pleasantness to be aesthetic variables).6 Obtaining a map f and applying it to design for aesthetics To specify a map f we need to know the structure of the spaces S and A. This relation was found to be subject-dependent. where the dependence of f on d ∈ D is implicitly defined by the relationship RA between A and D. the types and the value domains of their variables must be defined. “sharpness” and “agressiveness” without reference to at least one object.an)ij = ∂/∂aj fi(a1. which can be regarded as a search for the relation RS.. this change is dependent on the point in A where it is evaluated.an). For this case we define the Jacobian matrix Jf of the map f : ℜn → ℜm as the m×n matrix of the first derivatives of f.…. 1991). Let us review what has been achieved. J. In kinematic analysis the function f is sometimes reconstructed from measurements of its Jacobian matrix.: Jf(a1. for example. Subjects were confronted with eight existing mobile phones in order to determine design model-dependent values of the variables.e.-C.9. i.2 the types “intensity” and “pleasantness”. In section 3. then it was hypothesized that a 21 . this leads to Observation 1: A mapping f from A to S needs not to be one-to-one. a positive correlation between some of the si and aj was reported based on statistics induced by stimuli. in the study reported in chapter 3. despite the restrictions we introduced. elements of D. Before doing so we consider the special case. Observation 2 suggests that it is unfeasible to define a dependence relation between.e. among others. The entry (i. i. The limitation expressed by items 4 and 9 reflect the scope of equation (1) which does not deal with design models that cannot be prescribed by aesthetic variables. This may be not obvious from equation (1). 5. The Jacobian matrix is commonly used to analyze maps between two vector spaces that are both domains to represent kinematic systems (Latombe. This implies that. In section 3. this correlation was applied to create new elements of D (i. i.e. j) of Jf specifies how much variable sj changes due to changes of variable aj. There may be points in S that cannot be a result of the map from A.e. Indeed the primary interest is the capability of f to be map from A to (not necessarily onto) S.3 variables of S were correlated to elements from D. where the shape variables and the aesthetic variables form real vector spaces. which is a principle that may carry over to our field of interest. in this respect.

than to obtain agreement that a particular edge is “moderately sharp”. if the restrictions for equation (1) apply.. For example.f. The choice of types of variables ai and si seems to be inspired by the design objects di at hand. the specification of a relation between S and A. The relationships RA and RS should be based on empirical data. where a class is formed by elements relating to the same point in S (or A).. issues 2 and 3) one could refer to subsets of D rather than individual elements when establishing the relationships RA and RS. This interpretation of the report in chapter 3. It is important to distinguish between the type and the value of variables. as well as more general considerations raise several issues: 1.…. This instability has repercussions on the mapping f. we recommend to perform initial experiments 22 . Subject dependence can be incorporated by either introducing subject-specific (or subject categoryspecific) relations. The new di+1 is di+1=FS(s1 + ∆s1.….…. an)m.…. although the data allow. rather than a mapping. as described in chapter 3. Another approach is to not attempt to directly obtain RA and RS. 4. The aforementioned positive correlation can be regarded as an indication of the existence of a map f.n) + … (∆a1 Jf(a1. Design for aesthetics could then be supported if the aesthetic intent is specified as a modification (∆a1. This is in analogy to measuring the Jacobian matrix of a robot in attempt to reconstruct the mapping from configuration space to Eucledian space. Obviously. Indeed. i.sm + ∆sm). the candidate new design di+1 is obtained by changing the shape variables as follows (∆s1. but to measure their changes with respect to changes in the space D. To gain detailed insight in the nature of the mapping f (either the one according to equation (1) or a less restricted relation).….n).…. ∆an Jf(a1. This limits the range of any relationship RA and RS to a particular subset of D.…. an)1.1.1. ∆sm) = …+ (∆a1 Jf(a1.new q ∈ D for which si = σj will also have ai = αi.e. Measuring RA and RS is not a well-defined process. Then. FA(a1.∆an) relative some reference design di. which may be too restrictive if the relations are to support design for aesthetics. where (a1. ∆an Jf(a1. 2.…. an)1. To gain stability (c. the notion of “differentiation” of shape (or aesthetic) variables with respect to d requires continuous or quasi-continuous properties of the involved spaces.….…. based on panel responses it seems easier to detect that a certain edge gets sharper. when a specific design di ∈ D empirically relates to some si ∈ S then this may be true for some neighborhood of di.am) ∈ A represent the aesthetic variables’ values for di.. at most. The assignment of values to the shape and aesthetic variables is mostly based on panel responses and is unlikely to be a reproducible action. in table1 the shape characteristics seem a mixture of types and values. or by including ome subject-dependent weighting function. Conversely. This expectation was then verified.…. an)m.an)=di. This would require D to have a topology. a topology on D could be based on a classification of D. 3.

(b) to link product characteristics to aesthetic factors. people. but also to the complexity issues. By giving up the desire to be comprehensive and by focusing particular aspects only. perception. First of all. advertisements and magazines. When aesthetic effect is considered as a totality. On the contrary to these phenomenological approaches. Discussion and conclusions There exist uncertainties about the scientific understanding of how aesthetics and shape design meet. i. aesthetics of a product attracts the user in the shops. the methods they use are strongly dependent on the product. and to unify aesthetics and designing. Efforts have been made to explore and explain the relation between aesthetic intent and design properties. it is nevertheless feasible to identify classes that cover the essence of more commonly accepted aesthetic intents and leave out individualistic differences that 23 . Although the rich diversity of aesthetic characteristics makes it impossible to produce categories that cater for all tastes and styles. etc. or the aspect of designer-product relationship.using relatively simple spaces S. forming a loop between users and designers. Therefore. The paper gives insights to two studies that supports these statements. In most of the time. it is not easy to relate these responses to the characteristics of the product. In this paper the authors attack three issues of design for aesthetics: (a) to understand the way how products evoke feeling. Due to the lack of some of the knowledge needed. are to be taken into account too. the other is a creative sub-process that relates to systematically designing aesthetically pleasing products. However.e. or users and designers. some work tried to apply formal approaches and scientifically sound methods. The communication loop of aesthetic properties divides into two parts: one is an explorative sub-process that is orientated to understand how shape invokes feeling. designers work instinctively. The terms used to describe aesthetics are rather subjective and have no direct relationship to the characteristics of the shape as a whole. and (c) to develop a methodology that enables us to provide better computer support to design for design for aesthetics. the paper proposes a framework which utilize the analogy of information communication. dealing with aesthetics has a lot to do with the psychology of inspired emotions. Several authors claimed that a product gives rise to sensory stimulus. other aspects like colors. primary to test the stability of value assignment to the variables. Aesthetics is conveyed by the shape which is however only one aspects of materialization of the product. 6. A and D. They spontaneously apply their skills and knowledge and judge their successfulness in incorporating aesthetic intends based on their own emotions. While a designed product can trigger definite aesthetic responses to observers. texture. these systematic approaches have not been able to deliver the requested methodological framework for design for aesthetics. In order to create a closed loop between designers and users. But the aesthetics also influences the relation of the user to the product when it is in use. objectives and situation and are not fully scientific. or as a composition of its parts. patterns. It means that explanation of appreciation need simultaneous consideration of the human behavior as a consumer and a user. that in turn brings about feeling-based responses. they have been compelled to treat the problem either from the aspect of user-product.

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