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Assessing Material Properties on Sensorial Scales

[+] Author Affiliations
Elvin Karana, Paul Hekkert, Prabhu Kandachar

Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Paper No. DETC2009-86756, pp. 911-916; 6 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 29th Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Parts A and B
  • San Diego, California, USA, August 30–September 2, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4899-9 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3856-3
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Product designers are expected to create products transferring certain meanings. Materials of products are used for supporting the intended meanings in product design; one material may convey luxury, another material can be associated with a particular culture. It is to be expected that materials are attributed different meanings in different products and contexts, affected by certain key variables such as form, function, manufacturing processes, use, and user characteristics. The sensorial properties of materials (e.g. smoothness, transparency, softness, etc.) are one of these key variables which collaborate with the other key variables in design in order to create unique sensorial experiences and meanings. There is a growing interest among scholars in the design domain for developing new methods and tools to guide designers particularly in creating sensorial experiences through material choices. Studies conducted for this aim mainly focus on understanding the links between certain formal characteristics of materials (i.e. physical and sensorial properties) and the affective responses of users. The main question of this paper stems from this point: Can people properly evaluate the materials of products in terms of their sensorial properties regarding different sensory modalities? This main question is investigated by measuring the level of agreement among a group of non-design students on the sensorial properties of ten different materials. The results of the study show that perceptions of some sensorial properties can be more affected by the type of user-product interaction and by other sensorial properties (or other sensory domains). The paper consists of a comprehensive discussion on the results of the study.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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