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A Structured Approach to Identify Styles in Designs

[+] Author Affiliations
Tian Chan, Manuel Sosa

INSEAD, Singapore

Jürgen Mihm

INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France

Paper No. DETC2012-70717, pp. 541-550; 10 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 9th International Conference on Design Education; 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4506-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


This paper introduces a structured approach, based on clustering analysis, to identify groups of visually similar designs (and potentially members of a design style) in a large set of unique designs. We implemented our approach on the population of design patents filed in the USA during the 1976–2010 period. Design patent data is used in our analysis for two reasons: (1) claims of design patents concern the visual aspects of classes of artifacts; (2) similarity between design patents is captured through a tightly controlled citation process. The cluster analysis is based on constructing a similarity index across all pairs of design patents, followed by applying a divisive graph clustering algorithm to organize design patents into a hierarchical tree. Identified clusters of potentially visually similar design patents are tested for positive association against other grouping criteria that are expected to contain similar designs such as design patents filed by the same designer, design patents filed by the same firm, and design patents assigned to the same patent class category. We discuss the implications of our findings for the study of the emergence and evolution of styles in design.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Algorithms , Design , Patents



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