Design Syntactics: A Functional Approach to Visual Product Form Theory, Models, and Methods
Doctoral thesis, 2001
In line with the increasing importance of high quality appearance and aesthetic appeal in the design of consumer products, there is a growing need for enhanced understanding and ability to handle visual product form in industrial product development. In an approach for meeting that need, this thesis concerns the nature and development of visual design aesthetics in product form design. The contributions provide a means for enhanced reasoning about the structure and function of form design. The aim is that the findings will provide support for the specification, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of visual product form in relation to technical aspects in the area industrial design and engineering design interaction.
In the thesis, theory, models and methods supporting the development of such product aspects are proposed. Based on theoretical elements from a number of fields, including engineering design science, design semiotics, form aesthetics, and visual perception, a hybrid theory for visual design aesthetics is proposed, which links the aesthetic form of the product to functional reasoning.
Through the theoretical framework of design syntactics, a descriptive model of the nature and workings of the visual product form is developed. The framework consists of three main conceptual elements; form functionality, concerning the purpose and function of visual product form; form syntactics, related to the structure and organization of the visual form; and design formats, associated with form content and design philosophy from a company perspective.
Based on the modeling framework, methodology support for form design activities in industrial design development is proposed. The three suggested methods include approaches for analysis of technically and aesthetically determined functionality of form, for development of visual form aesthetics in product design, and for the creation of design formats for utilization in operative and strategic design development.
visual design aesthetics
form design development