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Relationship Between Product Aesthetic Subject Preference and Quantified Gestalt Principles

[+] Author Affiliations
José E. Lugo, James P. Schmiedeler, Stephen M. Batill, Laura Carlson

University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Paper No. DETC2014-34327, pp. V007T07A045; 13 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 2nd Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 26th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4640-7
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Birkhoff proposed that order divided by complexity is a formula for aesthetic measurement. In that context, this work proposes to measure order with a method to quantify Gestalt principles. These principles establish how humans visually group elements of a shape together, and they have been used in architecture, product design and art as guidelines for good design. A human subject study was conducted to test the hypothesis that if complexity is held constant, Gestalt can serve as a direct measurement of aesthetics. In a survey, subjects were asked to evaluate their preference for multiple individual 2-D representations of automotive wheel rims from a variety of styles. The wheel rims within each style were designed in pairs, one pair with lower and one pair with higher Gestalt. Complexity was held constant by only comparing subject ratings within wheel rim styles. The results show that a positive change in Gestalt has a positive effect on aesthetic subject preference and that preferences are not significantly different for designs differing in geometry but having the same Gestalt. The implications of these results for designers and for future work are discussed.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Preferences



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