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Perception and Interpretation: Points of Focus in Design Sketches

[+] Author Affiliations
Emma Sagan

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Maria Yang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2012-71345, pp. 763-772; 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


During the design of a product, designers may show a potential customer or other stakeholder a drawing of a design concept in order to elicit feedback that can be used to inform further development of the design. Designers may desire feedback on specific aspects of a concept, such as its shape or size, but viewers may in fact focus on other elements of the drawing itself, such as color or surface texture. Viewers translate their visual perception of these representations into perceived understanding, but how can we know whether their interpretations are consistent with the designer’s intention? This paper evaluates the translation of four different product sketches by 163 participants. This study also considers how aesthetic preference and concrete information might influence a viewer’s opinion of an object. Results suggest that viewers were likely to recall physical aspects from a sketch of a product (material, shape) as well as its function. Findings also suggest that individuals preferred images that were overall more informative rather than aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, our research suggests that individuals were more likely to recall the texture, material or perceived efficiency of an object than recall the name of the object, its function, or its shape.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Design



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