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Product design, semantics and emotional response

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This paper explores theoretical issues in ergonomics related to semantics and the emotional content of design. The aim is to find answers to the following questions: how to design products triggering 'happiness' in one's mind; which product attributes help in the communication of positive emotions; and finally, how to evoke such emotions through a product. In other words, this is an investigation of the 'meaning' that could be designed into a product in order to 'communicate' with the user at an emotional level. A literature survey of recent design trends, based on selected examples of product designs and semantic applications to design, including the results of recent design awards, was carried out in order to determine the common attributes of their design language. A review of Good Design Award winning products that are said to convey and/or evoke emotions in the users has been done in order to define good design criteria. These criteria have been discussed in relation to user emotional responses and a selection of these has been given as examples.
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Keywords: Emotional content of design; Emotional products; Happiness in design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of New South Wales, Faculty of the Built Environment, Industrial Design Sydney 2052 Australia 2: Department of Design and Technology Loughborough University Leicestershire LE11 3TU UK

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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