A theory of reference for product design: the semantics of product ideation

Lacruz-Rengel, Rafael (2008) A theory of reference for product design: the semantics of product ideation. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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The present research focuses on the way designers make sense of things while developing their design concepts. The idea was to investigate whether the use of an appropriate segmentation of the meaningful aspects comprising products could help designers to work more consciously and more effectively in their exploration of ideas for design concepts. To this aim a methodology based on the inclusion of different forms of knowledge to understand design situations (Cross, 2002) and design themes (Margolin, 2005) was developed, with semiotics as its modelling paradigm and cognitive psychology as its experimental counterpart. Such an inclusive methodology allowed: (1) the identification of key issues and notions about concept formation (in general and within design), (2) a quite comprehensive review of the contributions of semiotic and non-semiotic theories to the understanding of meaning in products, (3) the formulation of a theoretical model about the meaningful aspects of products, and (4) the development of an experimental method to test the feasibility of this model. The last three points aforementioned are indeed the contributions of the present research to knowledge.

This dissertation is organised in five chapters. The first chapter introduces the reader to the subject of this research, the relevance of researching about this subject in design and the methodological aspects involved. The second chapter presents the literature review of design concepts and the theoretical positions about the construction of meaning in products. The third chapter outlines the theoretical notions and considerations that are needed to formulate a theory of concept ideation as a preamble to chapter four, in which the theoretical model is developed. This model is mainly inspired by the work of Roman Jakobson, and it suggests the existence of six meaningful dimensions for the ideation of design concepts. The last chapter presents the results and discussion of eight experimental carried out with 20 industrial design students and three studies developed to test the practical feasibility of the theoretical model formulated as part of this research. The conclusions show that the proposed division of meaning for concept ideation into six dimensions is quite feasible.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
July 2008Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cognitive psychology, product design, semiotics
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-03 - design studies
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-05 - others in creative arts and design
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts > Birmingham School of Art
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Carrie-Anne Bryan
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2017 14:43
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:20
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/3858

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