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Quantifying Aesthetic Form Preference in a Utility Function

[+] Author Affiliations
Seth Orsborn

Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO

Jonathan Cagan, Peter Boatwright

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Paper No. DETC2008-49295, pp. 397-407; 11 pages
  • ASME 2008 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 20th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Second International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Brooklyn, New York, USA, August 3–6, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4328-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3831-5
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


One of the greatest challenges in product development is creating a form that is attractive to an intended market audience. Functional product features are easier to test and verify through user surveys and consumer interactions. But, aesthetic preferences are as varied as the people that respond to these products. Currently, there is no technique that clearly and concisely quantifies aesthetic preference. The common methods use semantics like “strong” and “sexy”. A designer then needs to take the consumer’s desire for a certain aesthetic and translate that into a form that the consumer will find desirable. This translation is a gap in understanding that often is not crossed successfully, such as in the creation of the Pontiac Aztek. By providing the designer with a method for understanding and quantifying a consumer’s aesthetic preference for a product’s form, this gap can be closed. The designer would have concrete directions to use as a foundation for development of the product form. Additionally, the quantification of the aesthetics could be used by the designer as leverage when engineering and manufacturing decisions are made that might adversely affect the product form. This paper demonstrates how a qualitative attribute, like form, can be represented quantitatively. This quantification can be molded into a utility function which through design of experiments can be used to capture an individual’s preference for the indicated attributes. Once preference is summarized in the utility function, the utility function can be used as the basis for form generation and modification or design verification.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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