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Four Dimensions of Design Similarity

[+] Author Affiliations
Arjun Ranawat, Katja Hölttä-Otto

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA

Paper No. DETC2009-87085, pp. 1069-1077; 9 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 8: 14th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference; 6th Symposium on International Design and Design Education; 21st International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology, Parts A and B
  • San Diego, California, USA, August 30–September 2, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4905-7 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3856-3
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


To benefit from the value of a brand, a product family must have a coherent product family look. It is however not clear, what in the design contributes toward the coherence or similarity between the products. In this work, a product family identity is broken down into its basic design elements. The contribution of each of these basic design elements toward similarity is investigated. We present a framework of design elements in four dimensions. Examples of these design elements include color, texture, shape, and form. The contribution of these design elements toward the perceived product similarity is investigated. A two phased factorial analysis was performed. The first phase involved simplified shapes consisting of five design elements in the first two dimensions. In the second phase, a similar survey was repeated using images of real products. A survey of product pairs was given to a total of 52 participants. The results show that using the same shape, texture, color, and pattern has a significant effect on making a product pair seem similar to one another. The results will help a designer to design product families that have a coherent product family look but yet look clearly different from the competing brands.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME
Topics: Dimensions , Design



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