Prototypical product shapes as a tool for aesthetic product design

DS 87-8 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 8: Human Behaviour in Design, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Maya, Jorge; Betancur-Rodríguez, Daniel
Series: ICED
Institution: Universidad EAFIT, Colombia
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 559-568
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


The use of prototypical product shapes allows to structure and support the intuitive aesthetic design process. Prototypicality, a cognitive variable, is the extent to which an object represents a category: it shapes our aesthetic feelings with products, affects usability, makes up the products’ look, and affects products’ aesthetic evaluations and preferences. A mental prototype is a category’s central element. We all have artifacts’ prototypical information, however, designers are not aware and do not use it explicitly. These concepts have seldom been applied in design. Consequently, we explored how to use prototypical shapes for the aesthetic design process. 1. We proposed vectorising and interpolating 32 hand drawn Pepper Mills, PMs, to get the prototypical shape. In 2, we found the most innovative, original and typical PMs (n=74, 20 PMs). 3. We then used rules to explore aesthetic design possibilities and to transfer attributes to the prototypical PM shape. PMs’ aesthetics, usability, and design pedagogy issues are discussed. We suggest a structured simple way to design the product’s aesthetic for non-expert designers and applicable to other aesthetic cognitive variables.

Keywords: Design methods, Embodiment design, Industrial design, Prototypicality, Product shape


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