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The Relationship Between Function and Affordance

[+] Author Affiliations
David C. Brown

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

Lucienne Blessing

Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Paper No. DETC2005-85017, pp. 155-160; 6 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5a: 17th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Long Beach, California, USA, September 24–28, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4742-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3766-1
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


The purpose of this paper is to attempt to clarify the concept of affordances, as introduced by Maier and Fadel, to relate affordances to function, to try to reduce confusion about both of these terms by providing a detailed model, and to expose some of the existing research on function to a wider audience. The paper starts by constructing a model of function that relates devices to an environment. We then extend the model to include goals. Next we express the concept of affordances in terms of the model already constructed. The paper concludes by discussing the impact that use of affordances might have on the designer’s pattern of reasoning.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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