/smash/get/diva2:580694/FULLTEXT01.pdf

/smash/get/diva2:580694/FULLTEXT01.pdf
Shahriman Bin Zainal Abidin
Doctoral thesis
Doctoral theses at NTNU, 2012:270
Doctoral theses at NTNU, 2012:270
NTNU
Norwegian University of
Science and Technology
Thesis for the degree of
Philosophiae Doctor
Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology
Department of Product Design
ISBN 978-82-471-3851-9 (printed ver.)
ISBN 978-82-471-3852-6 (electronic ver.)
ISSN 1503-8181
Shahriman Bin Zainal Abidin
Practice-based design thinking
for form development and
detailing
Shahriman Bin Zainal Abidin
Practice-based design thinking
for form development and
detailing
Thesis for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor
Trondheim, October 2012
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology
Department of Product Design
NTNU
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Thesis for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor
Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology
Department of Product Design
© Shahriman Bin Zainal Abidin
ISBN 978-82-471-3851-9 (printed ver.)
ISBN 978-82-471-3852-6 (electronic ver.)
ISSN 1503-8181
Doctoral theses at NTNU, 2012:270
Printed by NTNU-trykk
Abstract
Automotive design is a specialized discipline in which designers are challenged to
create emotionally appealing designs. From a practice perspective, this requires that
designers apply their hermeneutic as well as reflective design thinking skills.
However, due to the increasing demand for new car models, it is not always
possible to keep generating new car designs without some form of assistive means.
Therefore, it is common practice to use Automated Morphing Systems (AMS) to
facilitate and accelerate the design process in the automotive industry. However,
AMS, which is an efficient algorithmic driven tool for form generation, lacks the
emotional knowledge of human beings, as well as the ability to introduce a
“creative” and preferably a “winning” design.
The purpose of this research is to study designers' reasoning about product
(automotive) form, their form generation activity, and the implications of these.
The research objective is to understand how designers generate forms driven by
their implicit values, beliefs and attitudes towards designing, and how these are
supported by their visualization and representation skills. Four research questions
have been formulated in order to get a firm answer posed in this research.
Generation of measurable and testable data – which involved both
qualitative and quantitative research to gather and analyze implicit and explicit
designer’s knowledge – constituted the main empirical effort for this thesis. A
design research methodology framework consisting of three different parts was
used in this data gathering exercise. These parts are: descriptive study I,
prescriptive study, and descriptive study II. They involved methods such as
surveys, observation studies and evaluation studies. Master’s students’ evaluations
as well as the designers’ own interpretations of their sketches – which represent the
sequence of morphed forms – were considered essential aspects of the empirical
studies.
The findings of this study can be summarized as follows:
1. Approaches in form development among designers vary due to
their experiences, which affect their sketching abilities, activities,
and implicit thinking patterns. In their sketching and form
development activities, designers emphasize the most informative
views, such as façade and three quarter front views, compared to
other views of the car. Rather than adopt a uniform
transformation strategy which includes the entire car, they also
select what elements to morph.
2. In manual form generation, designers contribute with their
personal and creative input in the development of the forms of the
overall car, its selected items, and regions that determine the
overall character of the car. Major differences in the morphing
approaches applied by designers and automated CAD systems
reside in the recognition and interpretation of the meaning of
form elements.
3. Considering the inability of AMS to morph selectively and
inconsistently, as well as to introduce ambiguity and variance, it
is suggested here that AMS may be useful only for convergent
transformation, which typically occurs during the later stages of
the styling process.
iii
4.
Although perceptions vary according to how representations are
presented in the morphing process, the Perceptual Product
Experience (PPE) framework can still be considered a useful tool
for establishing familiarity, for understanding quality
characteristics and the nature of the product, and, finally, for
determining meanings and assessing the values of form elements.
In conclusion, the work presents a descriptive model for practice-based
design thinking about form development in automotive design. Manual
interpolative morphing has been the focal area of study. The study categorizes
meaning with respect to designer perception. Based on the study of manual
morphing exercises, a new methodology of analyzing form syntactics, pragmatics
and semantics related to design thinking, form development, and automotive design
has been developed.
iv
Acknowledgements
Research at Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) level is not a simple task. Especially when
we want to study design thinking related to form development in automotive
design. However, working on a PhD at the Norwegian University of Science and
Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, was a great experience for me. This is
not least because NTNU allows inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies.
I started my PhD studies at NTNU in January 2006. The person who
brought me here was Professor Dr. Ken Friedman. I still remember what he said:
“…PhD is a research degree and a license for those who practice and teach
research.”
My main supervisor at NTNU is Associate Professor ir. André Liem. He
helped me a lot at the beginning of my studies until I finished my PhD courses. My
second supervisor is Associate Professor Dr. Anders Warell, who works at the
Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, in Sweden. He has played a
major role in influencing the structure of my research through his work Design
Syntactics: A Functional Approach to Visual Product Form. With guidance from
my supervisors, I have been able to organize my research, produce several
scientific papers, structure and write my PhD thesis.
While studying at NTNU, a lot of persons have assisted my research
through the several PhD courses that I have enrolled in. Among these people are
Associate Professor Dr.-Ing. Jóhannes Sigurjónsson, Associate Professor Dr.
Martina Maria Keitsch, Associate Professor Dr.-Ing. Trond Are Øritsland, and
Associate Professor Dr.-Ing. Detlef Blankenburg. Individual scholars from other
universities have also been helpful, such as Professor Dr. Susann Vihma (Aalto
University), Professor tekn. dr. Mogens Myrup Andreasen (TU Denmark),
Professor Dr.-Ing. Lucienne Blessing (University of Luxembourg), and Professor
Dr.-Ing. Christian Weber (Saarland University).
I also need to mention several PhD fellows at the NTNU Department of
Product Design for exposing me to such fruitful discussions and sharing of ideas,
above all Hans Vanhauwaert Bjelland, Hilde Østerås Bernsten, Martha Rice
Skogen, Ulrik Lie, Kjersti Kjoll Øverbø, Bijan Aryana, Ida Nilstad Pettersen; and
several senior lecturers at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), including
Dato’ Professor ir. Dr. Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar, Associate Professor Dr. Baharudin
Ujang, Associate Professor Dr. Mohamad Hariri Abdullah, Associate Professor Dr.
Mustaffa Halabi Hj. Azahari, and Professor Dr. Mohd Mustafa Mohd Ghazali.
I am grateful for the good cooperation with experts for the interview
sessions. Important names in this context are Tony Catignani, a former lead
designer at Saab Automobile, and Adjung Professor Mohd Azali Abdul Rahim, a
former chief designer at Proton; as well as respondents from NTNU, Coventry
University, the Royal College of Art in London, Umeå University, and UiTM; and
also practicing designers in Proton, Perodua, NAZA, Modenas, Proreka, and
Inocean AS.
Great thanks for the funding are extended to several organizations: UiTM,
the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia, and the Public Service Department
of Malaysia who have sponsored my studies at NTNU.
Luckily, all members of my family always support my studies. My wife
Fazilawati Othman, my daughters Nur Anina and Nur Anisa, my sons Ahmad
Ikmal and Ahmad Iskandar; as well as my mother Hjh. Salmah Md. Amin, and my
siblings, Saiful Kama and Supiah, have all been helpful.
v
Finally, to all the people and organizations mentioned above: “Thank you
very much for the guidance, knowledge, and support that you have given to me.”
Trondheim, April 2012
Shahriman Bin Zainal Abidin
vi
Table of Contents
Abstract
iii
Acknowledgements
v
Table of contents
vii
1. Introduction
1.1
Automotive design
1.2
Form development in automotive design
1.3
Visualization and representation to facilitate form development
1.4
Aims and objectives
1.5
Research questions
1.6
Limitations
1.7
Thesis structure
1
1
2
4
5
6
6
7
2. Frame of reference
2.1
Syntactic, pragmatic and semantic issues related to form development
2.2
Model of experience
2.3
Computer aided design and modeling systems
2.4
The concept of morphing and use of its techniques
2.5
Automated morphing systems (AMS) in automotive design
8
8
13
15
17
19
3. Methodology
3.1
Design research methodology
3.2
Research approach
22
22
23
4. Results
4.1
Terminology of qualitative structure in automotive design
4.2
Linguistic interpretations of the aesthetic element
4.3
Form embodied in text, drawing and tactile aspects
4.4
Positive correlations of designers’ perceptions
4.5
Manual interpolative exercises complementary to automated CAD morphing
4.6
Representational content in relation to form structure and form meaning
based on the PPE framework
26
26
26
27
27
30
5. Summary of papers
5.1
Paper 1 – The “old masters” of engineering design and the modern form
development process of automobiles
5.2
Paper 2 – On the role of formgiving in design
5.3
Paper 3 – The embodied mind in relation to thinking about form development
5.4
Paper 4 – Designers’ perceptions of typical characteristics of form treatment
in automobile styling
5.5
Paper 5 – Understanding styling activity of automotive designers: A study
of manual interpolative morphing through freehand sketching
5.6
Paper 6 – The significance of form elements: A study of representational
content in design sketches
32
6. Discussion
30
32
33
34
34
36
37
39
vii
6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
Formgiving in relation to future automotive design education and practice
Design thinking and reasoning within the context of automotive design
education and practice
Evaluation, verification and validation
Further work
39
40
41
42
7. List of references
44
8. Appended papers
49
Errata
50
Paper 1
Paper 2
Paper 3
Paper 4
Paper 5
Paper 6
Abidin, S.Z., Sigurjónsson, J., & Liem, A. (2008). The “old masters” of engineering
design and the modern form development process of automobiles. Proceedings of
the Design 2008, 10th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik-Cavtat, DS482, 1199-1206.
Abidin, S.Z., Sigurjónsson, J., Liem, A., & Keitsch, M. (2008). On the role of
formgiving in design. Proceedings of E&PDE 08, 10th International Conference on
Engineering and Product Design Education - New Perspective in Design
Education, Barcelona, DS46-1, 365-370.
Abidin, S.Z., Bjelland, H.V., & Øritsland, T.A. (2008). The embodied mind in
relation to thinking about form development. Proceedings of NordDesign 2008
Conference, Tallin, DS50, 265-274.
Liem, A., Abidin, S.Z., & Warell, A. (2009). Designers’ perceptions of typical
characteristics of form treatment in automobile styling. Proceedings of Design and
Semantics of Form and Movement, 5th International Workshop on Design &
Semantics of Form & Movement (DeSForM 2009), Taipei, 144-155.
Abidin, S.Z., Warell, A., & Liem, A. (2011). Understanding styling activity of
automotive designers: A study of manual interpolative morphing through freehand
sketching. Proceedings of ICED 11, 18th International Conference on Engineering
Design, Copenhagen, DS68-9, 357-366.
Abidin, S.Z., Warell, A., & Liem, A. (2010). The significance of form elements: A
study of representational content in design sketches. International Journal of
Design and Innovation Research, 5(3), 47-60.
viii
1. Introduction
1.1
Automotive Design
Automotive design partly deals with the visual appearance of vehicle exteriors (see
Tovey, 1992). The perception of the vehicle depends heavily on the design
produced by a designer. Established research on product experience provides a
conceptual understanding of design. The challenge for automotive designers is to
use his/her experience to make sure the appearance of the vehicle fulfills several
requirements, such as those of the users, those related to market and sales,
technologies changes, etc. In this process, the issue of product semantics and
semiotics becomes more important in the development of automobile design. Based
on Lloveras et al. (2004), product semantics and semiotics can be said to refer to
user-object interaction; factors affecting user perception, meaning and messages in
products and their designs; symbolic and iconic representation and interpretation;
and psychological responses to objects.
With respect to the emphasis on the exterior development of a vehicle,
definitions of automotive design, aesthetic development, and styling will be
addressed in the next paragraphs to provide a framework for my research.
Definition of automotive design
Much of the research on automotive design interprets the definition from a
perspective of industrial design which concentrates mainly on seeing the designing
by the stylist of the appearance of new products in the light of a general
consideration of conceptual design (see Tovey, 1997, p. 10). However, in this thesis
the definition of automotive design concentrates on the field of automotive design
whose purpose it is to develop the visual appearance (exterior design) or aesthetic
aspect of the vehicle while also considering engineering and business constraints,
such as technical package, hard points, platform requirements, category, portfolio
considerations, etc.
According to Clements and Porter (2006), automotive design is the
consideration of aesthetics during the product development of an automobile. This
consideration extends to all areas of the product readily visible to the customer:
metal, glass, wheels, lamps, mirrors, grilles, badges and other adornments on the
exterior, and all items of visible soft trim; seats, door trims, instrument panel and
controls; steering wheel, switches, radio, console, etc. on the automobile interior.
Visible design is generally considered to be one of the most powerful contributors
to the branding and marketing of a vehicle (Karjalainen, 2004).
Definition of aesthetic development and styling
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty, art, and
taste, and the creation and appreciation of beauty (see Merriam-Webster, 2006).
Scientifically, it can be defined as the study of sensory or sensory-emotional values,
sometimes called judgments of sentiment or taste (Zangwill, 2003). According to
Crilly (2005), the term is now most commonly used to imply visual appearance and
is often restricted to the discussion of perceived attractiveness. Moreover, the word
aesthetics may refer either to the qualities of an object or the quality of a
perception. Aesthetics explores new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world.
The designer uses their skills in applying aesthetic treatment to the development of
1
form to enhance the “appeal” factor of a product or vehicle. For example, the
choices made in relation to the body of a new car are strongly based on criteria such
as “beautiful” or “ugly”, and not only on technical criteria such as low air
resistance and transportation efficiency (Pahl & Beitz, 1996). These choices are
primarily made by the stylist in the design process.
Pahl and Beitz (1996) recognized the role of styling, and of the stylist as a
specialist in the process of developing engineering design. Complementary to their
work, Tovey (1997) has described the importance of styling in the automotive
development process, where car stylists use intuitive processes, “private” form (i.e.,
the designer’s individual interpretation) and graphic languages (i.e., the designer’s
visual linguistic interpretation), while design managers control the styling process
through a number of management intervention points which provide a precise
objective framework for the process. In this context, contradictions between
designer and design manager in relation to decisions on form may become an issue
once design interpretations are subjective.
1.2
Form Development in Automotive Design
In this section, “the character of form” will be discussed in conjunction with
challenges related to structuring its outcome as well as the creation processes
involved. More specifically, the discussion asks whether form development is a
planned process which mimics a structured problem-solving process in designing,
or whether it is a reflective design activity in which the designer continuously
engages in a kind of conversation with the “materials” in a certain “context.”
The character of form
In this thesis “form” refers to the visual appearance of automotive design. There are
many interpretations of what constitutes the problem of form creation, and the
interpretation depends to a great extent on the designer who produces it. Designers
employ several approaches in the form development process (Tjalve, 1976; Muller,
2001). However, in current design practice, it is hard to standardize “form” or to
generalize what constitutes form in any all-inclusive manner. This is because the
design-related knowledge differs greatly from one designer to another. The
designer’s perceptions depend on his/her background training, such as whether it is
within art or science. Furthermore, while designing a product, interpretations of the
characteristics of form are subjective in nature. These interpretations always depend
on the use of form language, defining meaning (semantic aspects), facts (pragmatic
aspects) and structure (syntactic aspects).
The challenges of standardizing form
Design is a central factor for the success of the product. The main issues relating to
the perception of form and the perceived problems of form depend heavily on the
interpretation of its character. The interpretation of the character of form varies
from one designer to another, especially in terms of designers’ understanding of
form characteristics related to gestalt (Monö, 1997). In automotive design, this
includes several factors, such as visual elements (or form elements, in other words),
form features, and components (see Warell, 2001; Karjalainen, 2004). The visual
elements are point, line, shape/plane and volume. Features of form are, for
example, accelerate line, hollow, concave, convex, etc. Components are elements
such as headlamp, radiator grill, bumper, fender, etc.
2
In the automotive design process, the designers designing of form is
considered an evolutionary process, and the concepts of “default” and “surprise”
are part of their problem/solution spaces (see Dorst & Cross, 2001). Thus their
contributions to the design depend on the implicit beliefs and attitudes of the
designers. This can be contrasted to a view of the problem-solving design process
as more structured and explicit.
As “form development” is skills driven and implicit, and cannot easily be
made explicit, determining how form patterns can contribute to innovative and
challenging form transformations in automobile design related to meaning, fact and
structure represents an important challenge.
To identify what the understanding and development of form really
involves, design research on manual interpolative morphing will be emphasized in
this study, which explores how human design input can assist automated CAD
morphing in the creation and development of form.
The complexity of form development in automotive design
The complexity of form is based on its level of abstraction (see Andreasen, 1991).
According to Andreasen (1991), there are three levels of abstraction related to form
in design: abstract, semi-concrete and concrete.
In automotive design, the most complex part of creating form is at the
early stage. This is the most abstract stage, during which the idea is fuzzy in nature
and everything depends on the designer’s experience, subjective interpretation, and
influences from other objects and contexts. However, the climax of the activities
usually occurs at the middle stage, when the idea is lifted to the semi-concrete
level. During this stage, the designer goes through a process of exploring form,
addressing form in relation to certain dimensions of representation. This process of
form explorations and transformations then transcends to a concrete level where the
elements of persuasion and design intent are emphasized. Although not part of the
focus of this study, persuading the audience who will be interacting with and
experiencing the product is part of the challenge at this stage.
In terms of visualization and representation, many techniques are used
independently or in combination with other techniques throughout the various
stages of typical design processes. However, from a manual designing perspective,
freehand sketching is mostly preferred by automotive designers, as there are very
few barriers to expressing new ideas and forms using the medium of “paper and
pencil”. However, physical clay and foam models facilitate the form development
process.
This kind of iterative and reflective practice, where the designer engages
actively with the situation and its materials is quite common in the design discipline
(Schön, 1983). The designer expresses form ideas based on mental images through
several developments using thumbnail or detailed sketches. Since the sketches are
languages for handling design ideas, the actual process of creating design ideas is
usually envisaged as taking place in the designer’s mind, and the drawings are
considered a reproduction of the designer’s mental images (Tovey, Porter, &
Newman, 2003, p. 139).
Complementary to manual designing, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and
Automated Morphing Systems (AMS) have become more important recently since
it has been demonstrated that they can produce more gradual transformations from
one image to another. Part of the aim of this study has been to observe and compare
3
the differences between a computer versus a designer in terms of how they
gradually develop and evolve the design of a car using morphing techniques.
Visual language and communication of form
Designers use visual language to communicate about form in automotive design.
Karjalainen (2004) writes that in the industry, designers talk about hard muscles
under soft flesh in order to describe the forms and shapes of cars. This kind of
visual language is commonly used in relation to styling activities.
In styling activities, automotive designers prefer to communicate using
visual language to illustrate the characteristics of form, translating them into verbs
and adjectives which represent its meaning (see Karjalainen, 2007; Warell, Fjellner
& Stridsman-Dahlström, 2006b). The element of representation is described in
relation to form as it translates from visual ideas to verbal expressions and
drawings. It seems that the representations of form are embodied and sometimes
hard to understand for other disciplines since the communication process involves
classification of many non-technical elements.
In automotive design communication, designers usually relate form to
certain aesthetic characteristics derived from nature or the artificial environment
(Tovey & Porter, 2002). A good example is the attribution of permanent animal and
non-human features to certain form characteristics of the car. Animal features can
be explained as zoomorphism, and non-human features can be explained as
anthropomorphism. The details of this were explained in paper 2.
1.3
Visualization and Representation in Form
Development
Visual reasoning and normative aspects in design
Designers commonly use visual elements as a basis for reasoning when expressing
their creativity in design processes. Theoretically, visual reasoning emerges from a
cognitive thinking process related to design (Oxman, 2002). In the visual
representation related to form development, the way in which design thinking
operates through externalized representations is visual reasoning.
In the theory of reflective practice, Schön (1983) regards normative design
thinking as a basic quality of professional practice. The elements are interdependent
and take place as a “reflection-in-action.” Schön’s concept of framing remains a
useful account of the normative aspect of design thinking. Schön and Wiggins
(1992) have investigated kinds of seeing and their relationship with the design
activity. They regard designing as a conversation with materials conducted in the
medium of drawing, and crucially dependent on seeing. It is characterized as a
reflective conversation with materials whose basic structure-seeing-moving-seeingis an interaction between designing and discovery. This basic model shows the
designer visually interacting with symbolic representations of the material of the
problem relating to design thinking through drawing and sketching. Designers draw
on paper, observe the evolving product of their work, employ different kinds of
seeing (visual apprehensions, literal seeing), and during these processes discoveries
are made. Features and relations are identified which cumulatively generate a more
complete understanding of, or ‘feel for’, the configuration with which the designer
is working. They conclude that this involves giving attention to a process that
computers are at present unable to produce.
4
In the discipline of automotive design, the concept of “normative” seems
to be fundamental to design thinking. Something that is “normative” relates to, or
determines, norms or standards (see Gedenryd, 1998; Rowe, 1987). Normative
rationales for action are based on evaluative judgments which justify beliefs,
attitudes or actions regarding matters of knowledge, aesthetics or morality. In the
social sciences, the assessment or judgments are based on norms and value found in
a given society. Normative theories are often articulated as manifestos, ideology,
dogma, styles, schools or movements. Normative propositions are often compared
with positivist ones, which are independent and based on verification by empirical
means – a distinction sometimes referred to as descriptive versus prescriptive or
fact versus value.
Perception and cognition
In the area of cognitive psychology, Arnheim (1969) provides a general principle
relating perception and cognition. According to Arnheim, perception is united with
visual cognition and we must see this operative relationship as one in which ‘the
cognitive operations are essential ingredients of perception itself.’ Furthermore,
cognitive responses with regard to the visual appearance of the product can be
classified into three categories, as (1) Aesthetic impression, (2) Semantic
interpretation, and (3) Symbolic association (Crilly, 2004a). In the area of
automotive design, the design thinking process is often private and difficult to put
into words because the styling process is intuitive and holistic, as well as supported
by a strong non-verbal culture (Tovey, 1992; Tovey, 1997).
Representation of form
The symbolic association of form in relation to its representation can be defined as
the perception of what a product says about its owner or user, that is the personal
and social significance (character, status, likings, etc.) attached to the design
(Crilly, 2005). Recent studies have indicated that while drawing or sketching
shapes, the experienced designer can reason about their properties, such as the
functions or the implied activities that are represented by shapes (Oxman, 2002).
This representation includes the domain of semantic (meaning carrying) qualities
embedded in shape or form in design (Jun & Gero, 1998). The generation of
semantic and syntactic qualities requires significant insight and sensitivity be the
designer. Therefore, initiatives to consciously introduce representational issues in
design and brand development are limited. This suggests that a greater awareness
of the need to understand how features of automotive design are interpreted and
perceived in design and branding exercises.
1.4
Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of this research is to study how designers think about and develop
form in automobile design with the objective of providing a “creative” framework
to complement and enhance the predictive performance of CAD systems.
Therefore, the following partial aims and objectives have been identified:
(1) To understand how designers reason about the form that they generate;
(2) To understand how exterior car designs have been influenced by preceding
designs;
5
(3) To understand which elements, features, etc. were influential in the generation
of incremental or radical design changes with respect to preceding designs; and
(4) To understand the characteristic differences between manual morphing and
form generated by AMS (Automated Morphing Systems) and the implications.
1.5
Research Questions
The research questions were designed to uncover how designers generate forms
driven by their implicit values, beliefs and attitudes towards designing, and how
these are supported by their visualization and representation skills. The following
research questions have been formulated:




1.6
How do car designers generate exterior form through the interactions
among their sketching activities and implicit/cognitive thinking patterns
supported by their attitudes, values, beliefs, and contextual assumptions?
How were exterior car designs influenced by preceding designs, and which
specific elements, features, etc. were addressed in the generation of
incremental or radical design changes with respect to these preceding
designs?
What were the differences in form development between Automatic
Computer Aided Morphing and manual form generation conducted by
designers?
What are the meanings of elements and features that were manually and
unexpectedly transformed by designers, and how do these relate to
preceding designs?
Limitations
The limitations related to empirical data gathering were concerned with finding a
suitable number of practicing car designers who were prepared to actively take part
as subjects in extensive observational studies, and willing to complete two sets of
questionnaires. This led to the engagement of designers with a wide variety of
knowledge, skills and experiences as subjects in this research project. The fact that
the subjects had such different backgrounds (students, novice designers,
intermediate designers, senior designers, and expert designers) – and the different
levels of knowledge and skills this implied – needed to be considered in the
analysis of results.
Students, novice designers and designers in intermediate positions were
very cooperative. However, it was harder to gain the cooperation of senior and
expert designers. They seemed to have reservations about demonstrating their
skills. The reason could be that they had lost their core design skills, since they
have moved up the career ladder to management positions where they were no
longer actively involved in designing.
Another limitation was the difficulty encountered when seeking to reengage the same subjects (car designers) in follow-up research activities, such as
classifying overall car designs, features and elements according to their type of
representation. The main reasons here were that the time and budget constraints
preventing, as well as the fact that the subjects have dispersed and moved on in
their careers.
6
1.7
Thesis Structure
This thesis is constructed as follows:
Chapter 2: Frame of reference
Chapter 3: Methodology
Chapter 4: Results
Chapter 5: Summary of papers
Chapter 6: Discussion
Chapter 7: List of references
Chapter 8: Appended papers
7
2. Frame of Reference
This chapter describes the framework of the research. The variables selected are
structured within this framework, and their connection will be explained within the
context of three interconnected practice related fields: Form Structuring and
Development, CAD and 3-D Modeling, and automated morphing systems.
2.1
Syntactic, Pragmatic and Semantic Issues related to
Form Development
In design thinking, the creation and development of form is commonly regarded as
a result of body and mind interaction as part of the affective domain. The affective
domain includes the manner in which we deal emotionally with matters such as
feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasm, motivation and attitudes (Krathwohl,
Bloom, & Masia, 1973). The five major categories of this domain range from the
simplest behavior to the most complex: receiving phenomena, responding to
phenomena, valuing phenomena, organizing and internalizing values. In terms of
this domain and design, a designer uses his/her imagination in a metaphorical way
to visualize an idea. According to Lakoff and Johnson (1999), metaphorical form is
embodied in the thinking about form. Findings of cognitive science are profoundly
disquieting in two aspects, as (1) Human reason is a form of animal reason, and (2)
Our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly
unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.
According to Lakoff & Johnson (1999, p. 17), “Our sense of what is real
begins with and depends crucially upon our bodies, especially our sensorimotor
apparatus, which enables us to perceive, move, and manipulate, and the detailed
structures of our brains, which have been shaped by both evolution and
experience”. Metaphors allow conventional mental imagery, to be used in the
domains of subjective experience.
Syntactic issues
Form syntactics deals with the structure and composition of visual elements
(Warell, 2001). Broadly, it involves the analysis of a product’s technical
construction as well as the analysis of visual details such as joints, openings, holes,
crossing forms, texture, graphics, etc (Vihma, 1995). In the design world, the uses
of this terminology refer to the visual form aspect of a product. The existing model
of design syntactics consists of two basic concepts, namely form elements and form
entities (Warell, 2001). Form elements can be related to material-physical and
configuration issues, while form entities deliver syntactic and semantic
functionality to the product form.
Laws of form can be explained in terms of structured or controlled and
unstructured or uncontrolled. The objects which have one fundamental property of
form are a shape, a certain arrangement of parts, and an overall structure.
According to Tjalve (1976), form may arise in four different ways, as (1) An
uncontrolled process, where the form depends solely on the conditions of the
environment, e.g., pebbles, mountain ranges; (2) A process controlled by physical
and chemical laws as well as the conditions of the environment, e.g., ice crystals,
mica; (3) A process controlled by genes and the conditions of the environment, e.g.,
living organisms; and (4) A process controlled by the wishes of men or animals and
8
the conditions of the environment, e.g., manufactured products, a beaver’s dam, a
bird’s nest.
In industrial design, the creation of form(s) while designing involves an
understanding of how to use basic visual elements such as point, line, plane or
surface, and volume (see Figure 1), as well as the rules and principles governing the
organization of the composition or structure (Akner-Koler, 2000). Visual elements
are part of the attributes of form that create tone and texture, thus imparting visual
interest and meaning. Their importance becomes evident through their use in
generating images and form(s) that are both two-dimensional and threedimensional.
Figure 1. Four basic visual elements (Akner-Koler, 2000, p.7; Muller, 2001, p.80)
According to Wallschlaeger and Busic-Snyder (1992), defining and
relating the application of visual elements to visual studies can sometimes be very
challenging since the term(s) can be interpreted and used in different ways, not only
in art and design but also in other disciplines, especially engineering, mathematics,
physical sciences, and humanities. To give a clearer picture, a mathematician may
think about defining words such as point, line, plane or surface, and volume in
abstract terms. However, in geometrical terms, a point has no dimension. It is only
used to define a location or position. A line is conceived as a point in motion within
space, which has only one dimension length. A plane or surface is a flat surface
bound by lines that has the attributes of length and width, but no depth. Volume, in
conceptual terms, is described as a plane in motion in a direction other than its
inherent direction. For example, a 3D form is derived from and enclosed by planes
that have a position in 3D space.
According to Gestalt theory (King & Wertheimer, 2005), the perception of
Gestalt is central in the appreciation of visual appearance in design. Gestalt is an
arrangement of parts which appears and functions as a whole that is more than the
sum of its parts (see Monö, 1997). The quality of the whole as being more than the
sum of its parts means that the way forms, colors, and materials are combined and
structured generate a holistic value addition, usually referred to as a product or
system. When this has occurred, its parts are no longer treated as isolated
characteristics.
Pragmatic issues
Form in terms of pragmatic issues is concerned with facts and actual occurrences or
practice. Most of the approaches used in engineering design are pragmatic in
nature. In automotive design, examples of design based on pragmatic approaches
can be seen in the development of an Excavator and Road Roller (see Tjalve, 1976;
Hubka, Andreasen, & Eder, 1998). These approaches focus on a quantified
structure, where problem solving and dissection are related to the generation of
9
principle solutions during the conceptualization phases. The well-known “old
masters” of engineering design who have used these approaches, are Pahl and Beitz
(1996), Hubka (1982), Tjalve (1976), and Roth (1989). Details of these approaches
are discussed in paper 1 of this thesis.
Furthermore, in engineering design, the creation of form(s) can be based
on several form-generation models. Many of these models are based on principle
solutions, such as the problem-solving process (Simon, 1961), and synthesis–
analysis order (Sim & Duffy, 2003). The problem-solving process is an activator
assisting in the creative process that in a general sense encompasses a variety of
activities with widespread applications (Pahl & Beitz, 1996). This process is either
structured or unstructured, and can also result in the generation of form(s). The
problem-solving process also considers the design activity as a problem to be
solved (Simon, 1961). Simon (1969) described problem solving as one of the
strategies in design development. The use of the method of quantified structure
(Tjalve, 1976) or quantitative structure (Muller, 2001) is common in engineering
design, and especially in the creation of form, because it involves the element of
problem solving. Tjalve (1976) states that quantified structure is chosen based on
two different viewpoints, dependent on whether or not the functional connections
between the elements can be included. If these functional connections are ignored,
the structure variation method gives a number of suggestions for a very general
construction of the product. If the functional connections are included, suggestions
for further development of the basic structure will be made, with the aim of
optimizing and specifying the parameters involved.
Figure 2. Models of technical systems are organized in four domains, along the two
dimensions of abstract to concrete and simple to detailed (Andreasen, 1991; Buur,
1990; Øritsland, 1999)
A similar way of facilitating pragmatic and structured problem solving is
through the use of “technical systems”. In the theory of technical systems, there are
four domains of designer works, based on level of abstraction. The domains are: (1)
The domain of processes; (2) The domain of functions; (3) The domain of organs;
and (4) The domain of components (see Andreasen, 1991). Andreasen (see Figure
2) proposes a model for the causal relationship between the different domains of
machine systems: (1) between Process and Function: The technological principle
for the transformation which is the purpose of the machine determines the functions
which are to be implemented by the machine; (2) between Function and Organ:
Functions are created by the organs within the machine. Organs at a high level can
10
make it necessary to implement new transformations, which in turn leads to
second-order functions and organs, and so on; and (3) between Organ and
Component: Organs are materially implemented by machine parts. The necessary
relationship between machine parts may lead to a requirement for low-level organs
such as joining, connecting and support organs, which in turn lead to a requirement
for new machine parts.
Quantified structure does not deal with the aesthetic features, however,
because intuitive form creation is an emotional and cognitive process, which is,
firstly, driven by the inherent knowledge, past experiences, and prevailing
assumptions of designers, and, secondly, stimulated by the designer’s interaction
with the material in its context. Here the hermeneutic model for designing (Darke,
1979) can be used as a reference. Synthesis-analysis is considered here as a
compound activity, as it involves search, exploration and discovery of design
solutions, and composition and integration of these solutions (Sim & Duffy, 2003).
However, quantified structures and cognitive subjective process are
equally important in the generation of car designs. Muller (2001) has suggested
three levels of form development which are commonly used in the automotive
design discipline. The first level is topological. At this level the designer’s task is
exploratory, and he or she thinks in a metaphorical, analogue, and behavioral
manner, because the effect or artifact and properties are still only fuzzy ideas.
Industrially, everything is still in the conceptual phase. The instruments used at this
level are texts, drawings, and pictures. The Convergence level of the composition
or decomposition is basically conceptual. On the other hand, the level of abstraction
is purely abstract.
The second level is the typological level. At this level, the designer’s task
is explanatory. The designer’s thinking is geared towards the surface, and the
geometric and organic order. The effect or artifact and properties are extensional.
Industrially, things have moved on to the developmental phase, and instruments are
used in a form of drawing. The Convergence level of the composition or
decomposition is represented by layout. The level of abstraction is semi-concrete.
The third level is the morphological level. The designer’s task is now very
much a matter of persuasion. The ways designers think are influenced by the
systems of arithmetic and semantic order. The effect or artifact and properties are
superficial. The industrialization has reached the product intent and/or preparation
phase. The instruments used are drawing and CAD. The Convergence level of the
composition or decomposition is very detailed. The level of abstraction is concrete.
In terms of measuring and documenting form creation in design from an
industrial art and design perspective, qualitative measurement is the preferred way
of documenting the design findings (Akner-Koler, 2000). Meanwhile, from an
engineering design technology and engineering perspective, quantitative
measurements are common (Muller, 2001). A detailed explanation of quantitative
and qualitative structures is provided in paper 1 and 2 of this thesis.
Semantic issues
In styling design, “semantics” covers commonly used terminologies. Semantics is a
study of meanings (Merriam-Webster, 2006) and in the design world it is normally
associated with “semiotics.” Semiotics is the study of signs and sign systems, their
structure, properties and role in socio-cultural behavior (Monö, 1997, p. 58). The
term “semantics” is closely related to the study of the meaning of signs (or
semiotics, which is a more general term). In other words, semiotics considers how
11
forms communicate meanings through signs – such as when a coffeemaker
communicates that it belongs to the world of kitchenware through its general form
and white color. Another example is illustrated in Figure 3, where a form element,
namely the side-shoulder, also known as the “cat walk”, communicates a structural
function of increased strength and improved aerodynamics and carries important
aspects of the semantic and syntactic functionality of the Volvo form language (see
Warell, 2001).
Figure 3. The side-shoulder, also known as the ‘catwalk’, carries semantic and
syntactic functionality as part of the Volvo form language (see Warell, 2001)
Meaning thus depends on the qualities of the interpreter. Moreover, signs
are not necessarily visual. Any type of perception of a product can induce meaning
– be it sound, feeling, smell or taste. Such meanings can have a great influence on
innovation, because of their power of representation, their ability to create identity,
and possibly even to influence the course of technological development. According
to Krippendorff (1989, p. 12), meaning is a cognitively constructed relationship. It
selectively connects features of an object and features of its (real environment or
imaged) context into a coherent unity. The reasons for such relationship are
numerous. Engineers and ergonomists have almost exclusively settled on functions,
on measurable, causal connections that are manifested in the push and pull of
controlled physical forces. Although functional accounts (including semiotically
informed “stand-for” relationships) are undoubtedly meaningful to some, ordinary
people also employ many non-causal relationships – such as similarities, contrasts,
family belongingness, associations, synchronicities, harmonies, or social
conventions – to relate objects to their environments. However, the perception of
how something fits into a cognitively constructed context has no causal foundation.
What something is (the totality of what it means) to someone corresponds to the
sum total of its imaginable contexts. Krippendorff (1989) also suggested that
“Making sense is a circular cognitive process that may start with some initially
incomprehensible sensation, which then proceeds to imagining hypothetical
contexts for it and goes around a hermeneutic circle during which features are
distinguished – in both contexts and what is to be made sense of – and meanings
are constructed until this process has converged to a sufficiently coherent
understanding”.
Vihma (1995, p. 85) wrote about the cultural context of products. She
stated that it is only meaningful to interpret the signs conveyed by a product within
a cultural context. Therefore, one can “…interpret a car as a semantic entity when
it is put into relation to other means of transport, such as other cars, bicycles or
trains, and to other ways of traveling and moving, for example, a pedestrian and
driver.” The features that a car has in common with other cars, as well as those
which distinguish it from other cars, define the car in a culture and as a part of a
“semantic field”. For example, in the car model Volvo S60, specific shapes are
used to refer to the characteristics of the Scandinavian design heritage (Karjalainen,
2007). Thus, the gestalt (form, colors, composition, etc.) of a product does more
12
than just please or displease the eye – it places the product in a cultural context of
different signs, which in turn are the building blocks of the semiotic language
related to the product. Vihma refers to a model created by Gros (1983), which
incorporates both the practical and the aesthetical functions of a product. The
product functionality is considered a relationship between product and user.
Practical functions are associated with the ability of the product to function in
practical use. Product language functions refer to the appearance of the product,
and are of two types: sign functions on one hand, and formal and aesthetic
functions on the other. Sign functions are carried by semiotic signs. They refer to
functions, properties, qualities and characteristics, etc. Semiotic signs can indicate
factual information about the product’s use and properties, and symbolize
qualitative information dependent on subjective personal and cultural
interpretation. In Gros’s model, the formal and aesthetic functions are of a nonsemantic nature and connected to the visual-aesthetic content of the product. Other
studies have also attributed meaning to formal and aesthetic functions (see Muller,
2001; Warell, 2001).
Within the contextual relationship of how designers think about and create
form, a standpoint has been taken that each individual designer has his own design
style. For example, in my video observations, I asked designers to morph from one
vehicle to another (see Papers 5 and 6). The designer morphed gradually but only
transformed a few selected parts of the car. This implies that in the form
transformation process, contexts, values and beliefs were implicitly considered by
the designers, and only communicated explicitly only through abrupt unexpected
“form variations.”
2.2
Model of Experience
As this work is concerned with designers’ perceptions of emerging representations
(such as sketches) of products, it is essential to be able to assess the sketches in
relation to some type of conceptual understanding of relevant perceptions. The
purpose is to identify a suitable framework for analyzing designers’ sketches with
respect to relevant but different ways of experiencing such sketches. Multiple
frameworks and models which describe product experience exist in the relevant
literature. Hiort af Ornäs (2010) described 6 models of experience that were
commonly used in design research (see Norman, 2004; Desmet, 2002; Desmet &
Hekkert, 2007; Jordan, 2000; Nagamachi, 1995). These included (1) Kansei
Engineering, (2) Basic model of product emotions, (3) Framework of product
experience, (4) The emotional design framework, (5) The four pleasures
framework, and (6) Model of user experience. In the following, three models which
have been considered in this research are presented.
Several authors (see, e.g., Monö, 1997; Crilly et al., 2004b) have adopted
the transmission model of communication, originally proposed by Shannon and
Weaver (1949), as a way to describe how products communicate with users. In
Monö’s model (see Figure 4), messages are encoded into the product by the
designer (the sender). These messages are carried by the physical product gestalt
(the combination of form, color, texture, structure, etc.), and eventually decoded by
the user (the receiver of the message). Monö proposes that four types of semantic
functions (describing, expressing, exhorting, identifying) form the basis for the
communication of meaning between artifacts (and their representations) and users.
13
Figure 4. Monö’s (1997) model of the communication process, based on Shannon
and Weaver (1949)
Crilly et al. (2004b) expand the understanding of the nature of the
communication by proposing that consumer response to product form is divided
into cognition, affect and behavior. Here, cognition consists of aesthetic
impression, semantic interpretation, and symbolic association, while affect includes
emotional response, and behavior refers to users’ tendencies to approach or avoid,
based on how the product is experienced.
Hekkert (2006, pp. 159-160) suggested that product experience can be
defined as “the entire set of effects that is elicited by the interaction between a user
and a product, including the degree to which all our senses are gratified (aesthetic
experience), the meanings we attach to the product (experience of meaning) and the
feelings and emotions that are elicited (emotional experience).” These three
components or levels of experience can be distinguished as they all have their own,
albeit highly related, law-governed underlying processes. Furthermore, Hekkert
states that they are “conceptually different, although they are intertwined and
impossible to distinguish at a phenomenological level (ibid, p. 159).”
While these frameworks provide a conceptual basis for understanding the
nature of product experience, they offer limited support in the mapping or
identifying of the actual experiences arising in product perception. For this purpose,
the framework of Perceptual Product Experience (PPE) suggested by Warell (2008)
has been useful. In the PPE framework, product experience is modeled as a
phenomenon composed of three core modes: the sensorial, cognitive, and affective
modes of experience; and two dimensions: presentation and representation (see
Figure 5). Hence the framework recognizes that the experience consists of
components which are perceived directly through the senses, as well as components
which require interpretation, and thus are socio-culturally and contextually
dependent.
The three core modalities recognize all possible types of perceptual
experience, including initial impression and recognition of the product’s existence
and its specific perceptual characteristics (the sensorial mode); making sense of the
product: its manifestation, structure, use, origin and purpose (the cognitive mode);
14
and the affective response: attribution of value to, and judgment of the product (the
affective mode).
Figure 5. Framework of perceptual product experience (PPE framework), with core
modes (centre), the two dimensions of presentation (left) and representation (right),
with submodes (Warell, 2008)
The dimension of presentation is concerned with the direct, sensual
stimuli-related side of the experience. In short, presentation may be seen as the
‘pleasurable’ side of the experience, related to the direct, non-interpretative
experience, and includes the impression, appreciation and emotion submodes.
In this thesis, I am interested in the significance of form elements as
interpreted by designers. The dimension of representation regards the product
experience as a meaning-making phenomenon that can be described by the three
submodes of ‘recognition,’ ‘comprehension,’ and ‘association,’ which can be
explained through Piercean sign theory (Pierce, 1931-1966). When seen in the light
of the identity references for each sub-mode, it becomes clear that the
representation dimension is intimately related to product identity (Warell, 2006a;
Warell, Fjellner, & Stridsman-Dahlström, 2006b):

Recognition (of Type): “What the product is” (function, use, purpose, make)

Comprehension (of Characteristics): “How the product is” (properties,
performance, behaviour, mode-of-use)

Association (to Values): “What the product stands for” (origin, brand,
heritage, culture)
Consequently, a product with strong representational qualities in all three submodes will most likely be perceived as having a strong and clear identity.
This framework is beneficial to my research as an aid to determining the
significance of elements and features which were manually and unexpectedly
transformed by designers, compared to preceding designs.
2.3
Computer Aided Design and Modeling Systems
Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools are today widely established support tools
which greatly facilitate the design process. CAD was used to create and list the
representations based on concrete data. CAD is used in styling in areas such as
form morphology, geometric transformation, and interpolation. Several established
car manufactures, especially in Japan, regularly use morphing systems in their
research and design activities as an alternative way to study form development. It
builds mainly on geometric algorithms that assist designers in heuristic decision
making (Wang, 1995).
15
In the automotive design industries, CAD is currently used primarily to
support the manual form development process and to produce technical data for
further use in the engineering and manufacturing processes (Lee et al., 1994). In the
design world, there are numerous variations of CAD modeling systems, ranging
from low-end to high-end usage. The choice of modeling system is heavily
dependent on the expectations of stakeholders and end-users in terms of product
and presentation qualities.
The central problem with the application of CAD is that it adopts a
quantified structural approach towards creating and designing, and therefore does
not consider the qualitative aspect of the affective domain (i.e., feelings,
perceptions, etc.) designers bring with them into the design process. Recently, the
CAD software platform, especially morphing for design purposes, can be found as
both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional applications (3D).
Two-dimensional CAD morphing
In two-dimensional CAD, many different terms are used for form development,
such as transformation, evolution, mutation, morphing, etc. Within the context of
visual and explicit morphing, human facial transformation, which is similar to form
transformation in automotive design, has provided useful references. Beier and
Neely (1992) demonstrated 2D morphing between two images with manually
specified corresponding features such as line segments. They noticed that it was
difficult to synthesize realistic head motions since target features are revealed
during the transformation process, especially in animation. Chang and Jenkins
(2006) propose a 2D sketch interface for posing 3D faces. In their work, users can
intuitively draw 2D strokes in 2D face spaces that are used to search for the optimal
pose of the face.
In terms of the exterior design of automobiles, 2D CAD has been
recognized as the easiest way for automotive designers to develop and morph form
in design. This is because it is freeform, flat and limits the number of technical
issues to be considered at this point of the development. However, the advantage of
designing and morphing in a 2D surface framework is that the designer is able to
control the structure as well as the quality of form. For example, a type of 2D
software for morphing and animation purposes in common use is Animator, a
micro computer-based 2D animation system developed by Autodesk (Wang, 1995).
Three-dimensional CAD morphing
In order to overcome the limitations of 2D morphs, Pighin et al. (1997) combined
morphing with 3D transformations of geometric models. They animated key facial
expressions using 3D geometric interpolation. However, animations are still limited
to interpolations between predefined key facial expressions. Based on a blendshape representation for 3D face models, Joshi et al. (2003) proposed an interactive
tool to edit 3D face geometry by learning controls through physically motivated
face segmentation. A rendering algorithm for preserving visual realism in this
editing was part of their proposal.
Designers use 3D CAD so that the form of the design better meets the
designer’s design expectations. The process is quite complex since it involves
technical preparation and considerations. These need to be emphasized since they
involve surface and solid modeling (Wang, 1995). The common software
applications used for three-dimensional CAD in automotive designs are Alias and
Catia. However, for morphing and animation purposes, software such as Elastic
16
Reality by MorphPlus, Gryphon Software Morph on Macintosh, ImageMaster, and
CineMorph is used and has often proven to be more practical.
CAD modeling systems relating to form development
Currently, there are several software packages that have been developed for the
CAD modeling system. One of the most widely used is the Automated Morphing
System (AMS). AMS allows form developed based on the elements of quantitative
structure (Wang, 1995). However, at the same time, many researchers have
attempted to develop AMS software involving qualitative structure elements
(Nagamachi, 1995).
Much research conducted on CAD modeling systems has attempted to
address affective elements within the form development process. Among these
attempts is Kansei Engineering (Nagamachi, 1995). Kansei Engineering (KE)
focuses on product attributes and their relation to affective meaning. KE systems
have been applied in research and development in the car industry as a numerical
tool to define affective response in relation to design features. The development of
the Mazda Miata car is an example where Kansei Engineering was used in product
development.
2.4
The Concept of Morphing and Use of its Techniques
The use of morphing techniques has been widely explored within the framework of
form development and as a possible means to generate a wide range of alternatives.
‘Morphing’ is the gradual exploration of ‘form’ solutions/ideas which lie between
two or more poles, represented by visual examples. Hence Automated Morphing
Systems (AMS) is a powerful software tool for facilitating and generating visually
compelling and fluid form transformations. These transformations are created by
synthesizing intermediate images between the supplied image poles as well as by
interpolating between certain common features in the initial and final images (see
e.g. Hsiao & Liu, 2002).
CAD versus manual morphing
Most of the previous work related to the use of morphing has been conducted with
the support of CAD. CAD-based morphing techniques attempt to imitate certain
aspects of the designer’s work, that is, it performs certain routine-based and holistic
design explorations once a main theme has been established. Two significant
limitations are associated with CAD-based morphing approaches compared to the
work of a designer. Firstly, CAD-based techniques can only employ an
interpolative strategy for form generation, whereas the designer also uses
extrapolative strategies. Secondly, CAD-based techniques only consider the
geometrical transformation as such, and do not have the capacity to consider
intentional creation of meanings.
Several approaches have been used in styling for geometric transformation
through interpolation (see e.g. Lin, 1989; Zwicky, 1967; Chen, 1986). These
employ a number of algorithms (procedures of calculation) which have been
developed for image morphing (see Wolberg, 1990), such as linear and polynomial
interpolation, and cubic splines with natural or periodic boundaries.
Interpolative and extrapolative strategies
17
The interpolative strategy is to produce images which lie between two images,
while the extrapolative strategy is to produce an image that extends ‘beyond’ one of
the control images. In practice, the interpolative strategy is the most common
approach in morphing. Many works on interpolative morphing are based on linear
(Wolberg, 1998) and curve interpolation (Kerlow, 2008). The techniques for
interpolation can be used to calculate the position of objects in space, as well as
their shape and other attributes. Linear interpolation is the simplest and most
straightforward technique for calculating in-between frames. However, linear
interpolation cannot handle subtle changes in speed, especially in 3D animation,
because the in-between frames are created at equal intervals along the path. Curve
interpolation is a technique for calculating in-between frames that is more
sophisticated than linear interpolation. Curve interpolation averages the parameters
in the key frames, taking into account the variations of speed over time, known as
acceleration.
Extrapolative strategies are non-linear and non-uniform (Chen et al.,
2003). They are intuitive, based on human perceptions, and they have certain
semantic characteristics.
Approaches and algorithm
Wolberg (1998, p. 361) presents three approaches to morphing algorithms for the
development of morphing and image transitions of linear interpolations that fade
from one image to another. For example, within the context of AMS, certain facial
image transformations of multiple images – such as eyes, ears, nose and profile –
derived from four different inputs of images can be blended simultaneously through
the following procedural steps: 1) Cross-dissolve; 2) Mesh warping; and 3)
Multilevel free-form deformation (MFFD) based morphing. An example of MFFDbased morphing is given in Figure 6.
Figure 6. Multilevel free-form deformation based morphing (Wolberg, 1998)
With respect to MFFD, Rowland and Perrett (1995) considered a special
case of polymorph to obtain a prototype face, in terms of gender and age, from
several tens of sample faces. AMS has also been used for the kind of multiple
image transformation which is known as convex polyhedron (Wolberg, 1998). Nonuniform blending has also been considered in volume metamorphosis to control
blending schedule (Hughes, 1992; Lerios et al., 1995). The polymorph framework
includes non-uniform blending of features in several input images (see Lee et al.,
1998). In a polymorph the focus is on selected regions in several input images
(Wolberg, 1998). The regions are blended together with respect to geometry and
color.
Examples of morphing techniques supported by AMS include mesh
warping (Wolberg, 1990), field morphing (Beier & Neely, 1992), radial basis
functions (Arad et al., 1994), thin plate splines (Lee et al., 1994; Litwinowics &
18
Williams, 1994), energy minimization (Lee et al., 1996), and Multilevel Free-Form
Deformations (MFFD) (Lee et al., 1995).
Within the context of form development in automotive design, the MFFDbased approach was used as an example for this study. In CAD systems, the MFFD
technique for warp generation is simplified and applied to efficiently generate a C2continuous surface for deriving transition functions (Wolberg, 1998). The transition
curves can be replaced by procedural transition functions (Lee et al., 1995).
2.5
Automated Morphing Systems (AMS) in Automotive
Design
Shape averaging
The research on shape averaging (Chen & Parent, 1989) is pioneering work within
design interpolation. Shape averaging produces a series of novel shapes that fit
between two typical shapes representing different meanings. It is hypothesized that
average results are useful for predicting trends in form, or for extracting stereotypes
from a group of related shapes. This technique can be useful for creating new forms
in automobile design by blending general features of existing unrelated shapes.
Figure 7. Weighted average shapes derived from a car and a teardrop shape, with
ratios of (a) 70/30, (b) 50/50, and (c) 30/70 (Chen & Parent, 1989)
The algorithms of shape averaging can extract the mean, median and mode
forms from the average shape (see Chen & Parent, 1989). Figure 7 shows the
results of blending a car shape and a teardrop shape at differently weighted
averaging ratios.
Complementary work by Hsiao and Liu (2002) facilitates shape morphing
by analyzing the transformation of images from the percentage ratios of 0%, 25%,
50%, 75% and 100% on a parametric scale. In their study, Hsiao and Liu compared
several methods, such as statistic regression, fuzzy evaluation, and gray theory.
These morphing algorithms have been used as a foundation for car morphing in
several design research projects studying form transformation in design.
Previous work on morphing related to automotive design
In automotive design, predicting and establishing the relationship between product
forms and how these product forms are perceived and felt, has usually been based
upon two approaches, inversion and interpolation. The inversion approach
attempts to establish an explicit relationship between attributes and perceptual
qualities so that the given target values of perceptual qualities can be “inverted” to
obtain the required settings of the attributes. The interpolation approach, on the
other hand, attempts to obtain the desired settings of attributes implicitly, rather
than explicitly, by “interpolating” objects with the desired qualities.
The inversion approach is essentially harder to manage than the
interpolation approach because of the potentially large number of attributes
required to fully specify a product. An example of the design inversion technique is
19
Kansei Engineering (Nagamachi, 1995), which uses statistical methods to obtain
mathematical relations between product attributes and perceptual qualities.
However, most studies pertaining to automotive design capitalize on the
interpolation approach, exploring form in relation to an affective element such as
feeling, emotion, pleasure, etc. In order to understand how product shapes evoke
affective responses, Chen et al. (2003) conducted a survey to evaluate the affective
characteristics of product shapes connected to an analysis of product semantics.
Semantics is an approach which describes users’ emotional and cognitive
requirements for a product, while also assessing whether these requirements have
been incorporated in the respective product or product concept (Wikström, 2002).
A perceptual map of automobile shapes was constructed for the further
study of relationships between automobile shapes and the affective responses they
elicited. Nineteen representative automobiles and seven adjectives were chosen for
analysis. A perceptual map was constructed using a multidimensional scaling
program (MDPREF). A preference – mapping program (PREFMAP) was also used,
in order to determine the location of the vector corresponding to each adjective in
the perceptual map; see Figure 8.
In the perceptual map, the distance between points reflects similarities and
dissimilarities. Thus, if two adjectives look similar, these two aspects will be
positioned close to each other, whereas if two adjectives look dissimilar, the
corresponding points will be further apart. Observing the perceptual placements of
nineteen automobiles and seven adjectives, the researchers found that there are
many empty spaces (indicated by dotted circular lines).
20
Figure 8. Perceptual map of 19 representative automobiles and 7 representative
adjectives (Chen et al., 2003)
21
3. Methodology
3.1
Design Research Methodology
According to Cross (2006), the kinds of methods used for researching the nature of
design thinking include: (1) Interviews with designers (see Lawson, 1994; Cross &
Clayburn Cross, 1996); (2) Observations and case studies (see Candy & Edmonds,
1996; Galle, 1996; Valkenburg & Dorst, 1998); (3) Protocol studies (see Lloyd &
Scott, 1994; Gero & McNeill, 1998; Cross et al., 1996); (4) Reflection and
theorizing (see Simon, 1969; Schön, 1983); and (5) Simulation trials.
In this thesis, the research is exploratory in nature. The objective is to
explore or search through a problem or situation in order to provide insight and
understanding. Through my research papers, I have employed several methods in
the present research. Among these research methods are content analysis (Papers 1
and 2), verbal protocol analysis (Paper 3), survey (Paper 4), and natural video
observation and semi-structured interview (Papers 5 and 6).
These approaches provide two paths for conducting research, namely: (1)
An empirically oriented approach based on observation and the subsequent
production of theoretical statements, and (2) A theoretically oriented approach
based on logical reasoning for attaining knowledge. This combination has
similarities with the scientific method of the formal sciences. The two approaches
used together also seem more capable of handling the great divergence between the
nature of design research by means of empirical methods, and the design object
approached. The two approaches cannot be fully separated however, since the
“product and process dualism” of design work must be addressed in design research
(Warell, 2001, p. 25). Also, this research takes into account two research strategy
approaches, incorporating a combination of problem and theory-based research.
Either analysis or synthesis may thus be the starting point for a work of research,
but in practice, most research projects will involve both paradigms, albeit to
varying degrees (Sigurjónsson, 1992).
The framework of this research is based on the stages of the Design
Research Methodology (DRM) (see Blessing et al., 1998). The DRM emphasizes
several factors: The need to formulate success as well as measurable criteria (for
example, the role of the Criteria definition stage is to identify the aims that the
research is expected to fulfill, as well as the focus of the research project); the need
to focus Descriptive Study I on finding the factors that contribute to or prevent
success; the need to focus the Prescriptive Study on developing support that
addresses those factors that are likely to have most influence; and, finally, the need
to enable evaluation of the developed support (Descriptive Study II).
The design research methodology framework shown in Figure 9 describes
the development of product models for this research work. Criteria for the success
of the research are derived both from theoretical statements (see Papers 1 and 2)
and from observations of design practice (see Papers 3, 4, 5 and 6). Description I of
the phenomenon studied constitutes the basis for a Prescription, which in turn
affects the phenomenon (see Papers 4, 5 and 6). Description II shows this impact.
Depending on the outcome, a better description of the phenomenon is achieved
(Description I again), or a new prescription is formulated for the synthesis and
problem solving of the design process.
22
Figure 9. A Design Research Methodology framework (adapted from Blessing et
al., 1998)
Design research methodology is derived from knowledge produced
through design research, scientific research on design, cognitive psychology, and
practical experience (Pahl & Beitz, 1996).
3.2
Research Approach
This research was carried out using quantitative and qualitative research methods.
For the quantitative part, a sample size of at least thirty was found to be acceptable
(see Sekaran, 2003, p. 295; Erdos, 1983; Oppenheim, 1992; and Roscoe, 1975).
Forty-three respondents were used for the qualitative inquiry part for this research
project. In qualitative inquiry, no general rules have been set with regard to sample
size, but depends on what is deemed to be required from case to case depending on
method of inquiry (see Patton, 2002 p. 244; Stake, 1995; Yin, 2003; and Adelman
et al., 1980). Quota sampling was used for the survey and snowball sampling, also
known as chain referral sampling, was used for the video observation. Quota
sampling was chosen because it is more specific when dealing with the sizes and
proportions of sub-samples, as in the sub-groups here that helped reflect
corresponding proportions in the population (Sekaran, 2003). Using quota sampling
also helped the researcher identify participants based on selected criteria. Snowball
sampling, which is considered a type of purposive sampling (Patton, 2002), was
used to find and recruit “hidden populations” that are not easily accessible to
researchers through other sampling strategies. This method allowed an approximate
constructing of the “social network” by building up a social structure from a set of
individuals and organizations connected to the hidden population. Moreover, this
method of sampling was done because of a difficulty for the researcher to get an
access in automotive industries since all car companies involved in this research
classify their styling department as a prohibited area to other people.
The schematic representation of this research (see Figure 10) illustrates
how the theoretical studies, empirical studies and publications fit into an overall
structure where the parts complement each other.
Theoretical studies
23
The theoretical research activities constitute fulfillment of the formal coursework
requirements related to my PhD studies, in the shape of four courses taken at
NTNU, TU Denmark, and TAIK/Aalto University. With respect to my main
doctoral project on “Practice-based design thinking for form development and
detailing,” I studied how designers developed meaningful forms or form
progressions, which differs from automated morphing. In order to shed light on this
topic, surveys were conducted involving focus groups and individual respondent
from design departments in the automotive industry (Proton, Perodua, NAZA,
Modenas, Proreka, and Inocean AS), as well as renowned automotive design
Universities. In terms of finding the test subjects, I carefully selected the focus
groups and respondents from the automotive design industry in conjunction with
the respective managers, whereas lecturers in charge of design projects at the
participating universities (Coventry University, the Royal College of Art in
London, NTNU, Umeå University, and UiTM) introduced the test subjects to me.
Pilot studies were completed by the middle of 2007, whereas full-fledged
empirical data collection and triangulation exercises were undertaken in 2008 and
2009.
Figure 10. Schematic representation of research activities carried out during the
research work consisting of theoretical studies, empirical studies and publications.
Explanation of the abbreviations: OP = Observing participation, AP = Active
participation, QRI = Qualitative research interview, and QS = Questionnaire study.
Empirical studies and publications
Research and publication activities resulted in three papers in 2008 (see Papers 1, 2,
3), one paper in 2009 (see Paper 4), one paper in 2010 (see paper 6) and one paper
in 2011 (see Paper 5). Paper 1 described the foundation of the study based on the
approaches of the “old masters” of engineering design, and the modern form
development of automobiles. Paper 2 described the role of formgiving in design,
24
which can be interpreted as the part of form creation during which the aesthetic
elements are introduced. In Papers 1 and 2, I used content analysis in order to
establish a foundation for the quantitative as well as qualitative automotive
elements, features and characteristics to be further elaborated upon on in Papers 5
and 6. Paper 3 explored the ways in which form is embodied through design
activity. The use of verbal protocol analysis in Paper 3 revealed some interesting
findings. A questionnaire was formulated for the study of car silhouettes in relation
to human expression (see Paper 4). In order to investigate what expressions portray,
questions were asked with respect how respondents: (1) Recognize the common
characteristic of the car, (2) Indicate the words corresponding to the expression, and
(3) Interpret the car images in comparison to human expressions. A total of 46
respondents answered the questionnaire. For papers 5 and 6, I conducted
comprehensive experiments where video observations complemented with
reflection techniques were carried out on 43 practicing designers and students.
The focus was on how designers understood and transformed elements,
features and components based on selection and on notions of consistency and
completeness in manual morphing operations. Video observations focused on how
these participants developed and detailed overall and selected automotive forms
through morphing sequence exercises. This led to a total of 645 observed sketches.
(43 participants x 3 sketches (Morphing at ratios of 25%, 50%, and 75% for each
single view of the car) x 5 views of the car (i.e., Front view, Side view, Rear view,
Three quarter front view, and Three quarter rear view). The template for video
observation and verbal protocol analysis was based on the Delft Protocol method
(see Cross, Christiaans, & Dorst, 1996).
Complementary to the above, controlled experiments consisting of video
observation and semi-structured interviews were carried out with 10 master’s
degree students of product design at NTNU. Their task was to analyze selected
sketches produced by the 43 practicing designers involved in the experiment.
Selected sketches were then used as a basis for semi-structured interviews where 10
NTNU MSc students heuristically indicated their opinions on the overall form,
features and components of the car with respect to whether these elements deviate
from an expected natural progression of form development. The semi-structured
interviews were complemented with video observations.
25
4. Results
This chapter presents six major contributions to a new body of knowledge within
the context of this research. These contributions are as follows: (1) Terms for a
qualitative structure in automotive design relating to approaches involving aesthetic
features are established; (2) A format for analyzing linguistic interpretations of
aesthetic elements is developed; (3) It is demonstrated that the metaphorical form in
relation to sign and symbol is embodied in text, drawings and human tactile
behavior (such as touching); (4) Two types of positive correlations are identified.
These correlations are:
 The designer’s perceptions of form elements, form features, and
components related to common characteristics of a car, and
 Words related to car expressions and human expressions of the car;
(5) A method for analyzing manual interpolative morphing complementary to
automated CAD morphing is developed. This method will support designers in
their choices and transformations of form based on subjective and purposeful
intent; and (6) A method for analyzing designers’ perceptions with respect to
perceptual characteristics, such as recognition, comprehension and association, is
also developed.
4.1
Terminology of Qualitative Structure in Automotive
Design
In this research, the term of “qualitative structure” within the context of automotive
design was established and substantiated through the analysis of aesthetic features
in form creation, in which the qualitative element was emphasized. The
measurements were based on the quality of visual appearances in the form
development process of automobiles. These aesthetic features are attached with a
visual appeal based on human sensations of product form in relation to syntactic,
pragmatic and semantic interpretations. Even though the terminology is subjective,
it can still be measured by using a semantic difference scale and sketch analysis to
test the use of language, such as what the adjectives can tell us about meaning.
Currently, the term of qualitative structure is not part of the commonly used
terminology within the field of car design. Therefore, in professional industrial and
engineering design language, quantitative structure and quantified structure may in
certain cases refer to the same type of structured design approach. This approach is
based upon the use of principle solutions in problem solving. Detailed explanations
about this new term can be found in Papers 1 and 2 of this study.
4.2
Linguistic Interpretations of the Aesthetic Element
It is common practice to use language or linguistics in the interpretation of form in
the formgiving process of automotive design. Formgiving is a commonly used term
in Scandinavian countries to represent the from creation activity. The meaning of
form based on aesthetic elements can be described by means of semantic and
semiotic interpretation. On one hand, it can be explained through design-inspired
and measurement approaches based upon an understanding of engineering principle
solutions; on the other, design of form can be based on patterns in nature and
26
mechanical functions as well as other factors such as the code of language,
semantics, symbols, reproductions, or the individual choices of designer. In design
related to art and design there is a preference for using qualitative measurement to
document findings.
In this research, I have described form in relation to aesthetic elements.
Aesthetics is a sub-field of formgiving, which emphasizes natural (e.g., beautiful or
ugly) as well as spatial conditions. Aesthetics is also the study of the effect of
product gestalt based on human sensations. In order to be a function of linguistic
interpretation, aesthetics must be measured according to a scale using a high degree
of order with low complexity (Warell, 2001), such as semantics and semiotics.
Understanding the linguistic interpretation of aesthetic elements can also be a
valuable asset for teaching formgiving in design education. Existing form
transformation approaches using morphing related to zoomorphism have already
been introduced in design education, in the shape of selected design exercises. In
these exercises, students are for example asked to identify and relate animal
features to an object which originally has no human characteristics, but which has
the potential to adopt such characteristics and become more humanized. An
example of such an object is a car. Detailed descriptions of this study are given in
Paper 2.
4.3
Form Embodied in Text, Drawing and Tactile Aspects
Western philosophers like Lakoff and Johnson (1999) have described metaphorical
form as embodied. In order to test that statement, an empirical study was conducted
using verbal protocol analysis. The observations of sketching practices revealed
that, when the designer talked aloud, the element of uncertainty which is embedded
in verbal expression and text was made explicit through the designer’s interaction
with for example a poster (mood board) (see Paper 3). A closer look at the
drawings revealed that the designer replicated certain characteristics and specific
elements of existing objects into their sketches. At the semi-concrete level, the
designer used his empty hand, for example by gripping his fingers, in order to feel
the visual object and reflect its form in relation to tactility. These findings indicate
that the metaphorical form is indeed embodied. The detailed explanations of this
study are available in Paper 3.
4.4
Positive Correlations of Designers’ Perceptions
In terms of studying the relationship between car silhouettes and human
expressions, questions were framed in relation to the following: (1) Common
characteristics of cars, (2) Words related to car expressions, and (3) Human
expressions of the car. Table 1 illustrates positive correlations of designers’
perceptions. The frequency distribution of importance rating of form elements
indicates that “line” and “volume” are extremely important. The percentages for the
designers’ ratings of the principle of form indicate that “scale and proportion” as
well as “balance” are extremely important. The percentages for selected form
features as rated by designers indicate that “accelerate features (curves, line,
surface)” and “radius” are extremely important. The percentage score of designers
who strongly agree with a set of bi-polar adjectives indicates that “aggressivesubmissive,” “dynamic-static,” “elegant-not elegant,” “exclusive-not exclusive,”
“futuristic-nostalgic,” “streamlined-rugged,” and “soft-hard” are among the popular
27
features to take into account. Results from the study indicate positive correlations
in designers’ perceptions for all of these variables. This includes correlations with
regard to significant components (e.g., head lamp, radiator grill and tail lamp);
correlations between the form element and the expressions of the car’s front view,
side view and rear view (e.g., line, and the association of Chevrolet Camaro with
the words of aggressive, confidence, cheerful and futuristic, etc); correlations
between form features and bi-polar adjectives (e.g., Cut-line and Anger-calm, etc);
and correlations between car components and form features (e.g., head lamp and
radius, etc). It became noticeable in this research, that there are two styles of
structured questionnaires where word pairs of bi-polar adjectives are employed on a
semantic differential scale. The first style is a direct contradiction of word pairs. In
the direct contradiction style the word selected explicitly represents the meaning, as
in “beautiful” versus “ugly”. The second style is an indirect contradiction of word
pairs. In the style of indirect contradiction the selected word implicitly represents
the meaning, such as in “beautiful” versus “not beautiful”. The detailed
explanations about this are available in Paper 4. In addition, Errata in Tables 2.1
and 2.2 describe the details of a Chi-square test which indicates that respondent
perception in this survey is dependent on the image of the car model.
28
Table 1. Positive correlations of designers’ perceptions
29
4.5
Manual Interpolative Exercises Complementary to
Automated CAD Morphing
With regard to the practical application of Automated Morphing Systems (AMS)
within the context of CAD, it has been observed that AMS is unable to establish
meaningful form development progressions which can replace a designer’s
reflective conversation with the situation, form and materials. Results from this
study show that designers choose and transform form based on subjective and
purposeful intent, whereas CAD-based morphing through automated morphing
systems lacks this basis. Therefore, up till now, AMS has been more widely applied
in the exploration of form variations at a more concrete and routine level based
upon a clearly defined objective (convergent transformation). This routine-based
transformation process using AMS typically occurs during the later stages of the
styling process. However, results from the current study have opened avenues for
improving AMS used at an earlier stage of the form development process. Findings
indicate that in fact, rather than transform uniformly, designers choose what
elements to morph. This implies that they are more comfortable working at a level
of more concrete detail initially, before moving on to a more advanced level of
form development. Here, the types of elements selected by designers seem to be
characterized by having functional purpose. In contrast, the typical behavior of
AMS would have yielded the same number of transformations regardless of the
form structure level. As a consequence, the inability of AMS to recognize purpose
means that these systems are extremely useful for supporting advanced level form
generation. Hence we propose that the most beneficial application of automated
morphing is at the superior level of form generation.
On a more general note, early stage development processes are shown to
be categorized by divergent and explorative processes. By understanding how
designers generate form variation at the superior, intermediate and lower form
levels, improvements could be suggested which would enhance the ability of AMS
to morph selectively and inconsistently, thus introducing ambiguity and variance.
These improvements would rely on enabling the AMS to recognize the type and
purpose of form elements, possibly through the use of approaches such as genetic
algorithm or fuzzy logic. Furthermore, systems with such characteristics are already
emerging in the field of form optimization. These may provide a suitable
development possibility for AMS in the future. The details about these finding are
described in Paper 5.
4.6
Representational Content in relation to Form Structure
and Form Meaning based on the PPE framework
When selected design sketches were used in a controlled experiment involving
video observation and semi-structured interviews, it transpired that the 10
evaluating MSc students from NTNU perceived things differently compared to the
results from the morphing exercise with the 43 designers – represented in the form
of ideas and visual hand sketches. However, even though the designers’
perceptions varied due to the representation format of the ideas (visual sketches
made by hand), meaning can still be deduced from the results. Some of it can be
categorized with respect to designers’ perceptual characteristics according to the
Perceptual Product Experience (PPE) framework, including qualities such as
30
recognition, comprehension and associations. This shows that the PPE framework
can be used as a useful tool for establishing familiarity, understanding quality
characteristics and the nature of the product’s form structure, determining meaning,
and assessing the values of form elements. The details about these matters are
described in Paper 6.
Based on the six results described above, the following summary
highlights the major conceptual and empirical contributions of this thesis.
Conceptual contributions
1. Cross-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approach: Samples in Papers 4,
5, 6 are based on respondents using different approaches and disciplines
such as automotive design, industrial design and product design.
2. Understanding form and reliability: Findings in Papers 1, 2, 3 4, 5 and 6
made in the exploration of form in relation to different approaches and
strategies of quantitative and qualitative structure.
3. Qualitative data on sketching activities: Findings in Paper 3 using
protocol analysis to study metaphorical form, such as sign and symbol, in
relation to design activities and findings in Papers 5 and 6 using natural
video observations.
Empirical contributions
1. Visual information on form in design: Findings in Papers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and
6 exploring visual information on a scale ranging from abstract to
concrete.
2. Functional reliability: Findings in Papers 5 and 6 indicate that visual data
can make the functional reliability explicit.
3. Adopting manual morphing into the CAD and AMS systems: Findings in
Papers 5 and 6 exploring manual interpolative morphing through freehand
sketching demonstrate that it can assist in improving the application of
CAD and AMS.
4. Exploring the PPE framework in relation to form studies: Findings in
Paper 6 exploring a potential area of improving CAD and AMS in relation
to form semantics and syntactics.
31
5. Summary of Papers
5.1
Paper 1 - The "Old Masters" of Engineering Design
and the Modern Form Development Process of
Automobiles
Authors:
Authors’
contributions:
Published in:
What was
already
known on the
topic:
What this
study adds to
our
knowledge:
Relation to
research
questions:
Shahriman Zainal Abidin, Jóhannes Sigurjónsson and André
Liem.
Abidin led the writing process. Sigurjónsson and Liem
participated through consultations on the structure and contentbased analysis; they also contributed in the writing process.
Proceedings of the Design 2008, at 10th International Design
Conference, Dubrovnik-Cavtat, DS48-2, 1199–1206.
Most of the existing methods for the modern form development
process of automobile exterior design are structured around
“concretization” of the product during the design process.
Therefore, the “Old Masters” way of working has been adapted
to the different degrees of concretization of the product. This
technique emphasizes the use of quantitative structures, such as
principle solutions. However, not much research has been
conducted on designer-centered approaches. Designer-centered
means to focus on the cultural, aesthetic, and emotional values
of design with regard to tacit frames of an individual in relation
to his/her practice, cultural circumstances, methodology, etc.
In this study, we attempted to identify areas related to
formgiving and design, where Computer Aided Design (CAD)
systems, especially within the context of automated morphing,
have been unable to contribute in terms of aesthetics. With the
objective of developing a better design process, we compared
the “Old Masters” of engineering design and the modern form
development of automobiles. This comparison study revealed
the need for a detailed, descriptive study of form development at
work.
In this context, this paper discussed some important aspects for
form development from the “Old Masters.” Specific case
examples were based on the development of “Excavators” by
Tjalve (1976) and a series of forms from morphing a “New
Beetle to a BMW” by Chen et al. (2003).
 How do car designers generate exterior form through the
interactions among their sketching activities and
implicit/cognitive thinking patterns supported by their
attitudes, values, beliefs, and contextual assumptions?
 What were the differences in form development between
Automatic Computer Aided Morphing and manual form
generation conducted by designers?
32
5.2
Paper 2 - On the Role of Formgiving in Design
Authors:
Authors’
contributions:
Published in:
What was
already
known on the
topic:
What this
study adds to
our
knowledge:
Relation to
research
questions:
Shahriman Zainal Abidin, Jóhannes Sigurjónsson, Martina
Maria Keitsch, and André Liem.
Abidin led the writing process. Sigurjónsson, Keitsch, and Liem
participated through consultations on the structure and the
content-based analysis. Sigurjónsson, Keitsch, and Liem also
contributed in the writing process.
Proceedings of E&PDE 08, 10th International Conference on
Engineering and Product Design Education - New Perspective
in Design Education, Barcelona, DS46-1, 365–370.
For more than 20 years, the word formgiving or form-giving has
been commonly used in Scandinavian countries. According to
the Norwegian dictionary, the meaning of “formgivning” or
“formgjeving” is fashioning, molding i.e., industrial design.
Previously, most of the design authors in the world used the
word “shaping” in the same meaning as formgiving. Moreover,
available Standard English dictionaries do not interpret the
meaning of formgiving. It seems that the use of the word
formgiving has become popular among many design authors
when discussing design practice. Formgiving, when used in
engineering design, relates sometimes to a specific phase in the
design process: the part in which a principle solution is
developed into a materialized design. The emphasis is on the
embodiment, the determination of form and material, and the
process of bringing both the embodiment and the determination
of form and material in line with one other.
For industrial design, the interpretation of word was identified
as being toward a direction of artistic visual elements in relation
to the discipline of art and design. Meanwhile, for engineering
design, the interpretation of word was identified as toward a
direction of engineering-principle solutions in relation to the
discipline of technology and engineering. In the understanding
of the approaches of formgiving in industrial design, qualitative
elements in relation to quality of form have been emphasized by
the designer in appreciation of design. Meanwhile, in
engineering design, quantitative elements in relation to quantity
or amount of form are common. In the assessment of form in
relation to design, the totality of formgiving can be examined by
using linguistic interpretations. Formgiving can also be
influenced by aesthetic features. The concept of aesthetics in
this perspective can be interpreted as a study of the effect of
formgiving on human sensations. The focus in this study was on
the appearance or the consequence of the form. This differed
from most/previous publications which dealt with creation and
appreciation of the form.
 How do car designers generate exterior form through the
interactions among their sketching activities and
implicit/cognitive thinking patterns supported by their
attitudes, values, beliefs, and contextual assumptions?
33

5.3
Paper 3 - The Embodied Mind in Relation to Thinking
about Form Development
Authors:
Authors’
contributions:
Published in:
What was
already
known on the
topic:
What this
study adds to
our
knowledge:
Relation to
research
questions:
5.4
What were the differences in form development between
Automatic Computer Aided Morphing and manual form
generation conducted by designers?
Shahriman Zainal Abidin, Hans Vanhauwaert Bjelland, and
Trond Are Øritsland.
Abidin led the writing process. Bjelland and Øritsland
participated through consultations on the structure and the
verbal protocol analysis; they also contributed in the writing
process.
Proceedings of NordDesign 2008 Conference, Tallin, DS50,
265–274.
There are several directions of theoretical and neurological
explanations for creativity and intuition. Creativity and intuition
come from the basic motor properties in the brain. We know
that technical function might be understood by the actions of the
body. The designer can also work backwards: starting with the
functions the product is supplying to the user and using these to
create representations of internal technical processes. The
common term used in the technical development process related
to the creation of new design is formgiving. For formgiving in
relation to the automobile industry, concepts such as “bone line”
and “body” are used when describing a car as a form.
The study explored whether designers use some kind of
metaphorical understanding instead of structural principles. A
verbal protocol analysis showed that, in order to understand
product form while drawing it, designers react in several ways,
including through form language, visual expressions, and use of
an empty hand. This led us to think about how mental images
interact in some way with action schemes to play a part in the
designers’ apparently intuitive ways of “formgiving”. This is in
line with Lakoff and Johnson’s proposal that metaphorical
thinking is embodied. The results suggested that a closer look at
embodied mind theory might benefit the understanding of some
of the apparently intuitive processes of the designer. Such a
study may provide us with ways of understanding and
facilitating intuitive processes in design.
 What were the differences in form development between
Automatic Computer Aided Morphing and manual form
generation conducted by designers?
Paper 4 - Designers' Perceptions of Typical
Characteristics of Form Treatment in Automobile
Styling
34
Authors:
Authors’
contributions:
Published in:
What was
already
known on the
topic:
What this
study adds to
our
knowledge:
Relation to
research
questions:
André Liem, Shahriman Zainal Abidin, and Anders Warell.
Liem led the writing process. Abidin conducted research
fieldwork. Warell participated through consultations on both the
structure of the study and the analysis of the data based on
questionnaire surveys. Warell also contributed to the writing
process.
Proceedings of Design and Semantics of Form and Movement,
5th International Workshop on Design & Semantics of Form &
Movement (DeSForM 2009), Taipei, 144–155.
Automotive designers are challenged by differentiating car
models based on a common platform at the corporate-brand or
product-brand level. In relation to these brand levels, the explicit
visual references are embedded in the design features designers
implement with the intention that the design be immediately
perceived and recognized. Such characteristic elements may
have syntactic or semantic roles in product design. Previously,
qualitative methods have been developed by design researchers
in order to identify and assess such characteristic elements.
Later, the intuitive feelings were formalized and structured via
Kansei Engineering; consumer feelings and demands were used
to design a new product.
In this study, we discussed three perspectives on how designers
perceive characteristics of form treatment in automobile styling.
First, general perceptions of car designers, which are most
relevant for automobile styling were identified. Second, an
understanding was developed on how these perceptions,
expressed as adjectives, can be used as a basis for selecting a
range of factors and characteristics typical for car design. These
expressed adjectives represent form features, form elements, and
form principles. Third, selected bipolar adjectives as spectra for
morphing were explored.
The study showed that there are valid correlations between
selected designers’ perceptions and form elements/car
components of an automobile. Hypothesis testing using the chisquare test showed that the designer’s perception is dependent
on the respective car model image (see Errata Tables 2.1 and
2.2). This justifies the search for how these selected designers’
perceptions can be used as a foundation for automobile styling.
 How do car designers generate exterior form through the
interactions among their sketching activities and
implicit/cognitive thinking patterns supported by their
attitudes, values, beliefs, and contextual assumptions?
 How were exterior car designs influenced by preceding
designs, and which specific elements, features, etc. were
addressed in the generation of incremental or radical design
changes with respect to these preceding designs?
 What were the differences in form development between
Automatic Computer Aided Morphing and manual form
generation conducted by designers?
35
5.5
Paper 5 - Understanding Styling Activity of Automotive
Designers: A Study of Manual Interpolative Morphing
through Freehand Sketching
Authors:
Authors’
contributions:
Published in:
What was
already
known on the
topic:
What this
study adds to
our
knowledge:
Relation to
research
questions:
Shahriman Zainal Abidin, Anders Warell, and André Liem.
Abidin led the writing process. Warell and Liem participated
through consultations on both the structure of the study and the
analysis of the data based on video observations and semistructured interview. Warell and Liem also contributed to the
final stages of the writing process.
Proceedings of ICED 11, 18th International Conference on
Engineering Design, Copenhagen, DS68-9, 357–366.
Designers widely employ manual sketching as a tool to explore
and understand new ideas and concepts for form and function in
product design. The actual process of creating design ideas is
usually envisaged as an ongoing process in the designer’s mind
where drawings are seen as media to reproduce the designer’s
mental images. Thus, the design activity regards designing as a
conversation with its materials in specific situations conducted
in the medium of drawing and crucially dependent upon seeing.
In other words, its reflective conversation with materials based
on a structure of seeing-moving-seeing is an interaction of
designing and discovery. A divergent approach, searching for
more types of solutions, is generally employed early in design
processes, while a narrower but deeper exploration of variance
is used once a theme has been selected. The inherent
characteristics of designers’ processes of thinking and sketching
– being vague, fluid, ambiguous, and amorphous – render them
beyond the capacity of current computational systems.
We observed sketching activities of automotive designers in
order to understand their processes of manual interpolative
morphing employing freehand sketching. Results suggested that
there are profound differences between manual and automated
morphing. Specifically, these differences relate to selectivity,
consistency, and completeness of morphing operations. While
designers choose and transform shape based on subjective and
purposeful intent, Automated Morphing Systems (AMS) lacks
these characteristics. These differences influence the outcome of
morphing processes to a fundamental degree. Designers and
design teams will be supported by these findings when
considering the implementation of AMS in design work. The
research described the characteristics and clarified the potential
contribution of AMS in styling activities, thus assisting the
evaluation of AMS in relation to traditional, manual sketching
approaches.
 How do car designers generate exterior form through the
interactions among their sketching activities and
implicit/cognitive thinking patterns supported by their
attitudes, values, beliefs, and contextual assumptions?
36


5.6
How were exterior car designs influenced by preceding
designs, and which specific elements, features, etc. were
addressed in the generation of incremental or radical design
changes with respect to these preceding designs?
What were the differences in form development between
Automatic Computer Aided Morphing and manual form
generation conducted by designers?
Paper 6 - The Significance of Form Elements: A Study
of Representational Content in Design Sketches
Authors:
Authors’
contributions:
Published in:
What was
already
known on the
topic:
What this
study adds to
our
knowledge:
Shahriman Zainal Abidin, Anders Warell, and André Liem.
Abidin led the writing process. Warell and Liem participated
through consultations on both the structure of the study and the
analysis of the data based on video observations and semistructured interview. Warell and Liem also contributed in the
final stages of the writing process.
International Journal of Design and Innovation Research, 5(3),
47-60, 2010, ARTS-IJODIR.
As competition intensifies, design offers a potent way to
position and differentiate products in the minds of users.
However, this requires users to understand radically new
languages and messages, to find new connections to their sociocultural context, and to explore new symbolic values and
patterns of interaction with the product. Such new user value
includes utility and social significance as well as emotional and
spiritual value. Social significance value is embodied by
representational characteristics of product form, such as
semantic and identity aspects. However, there have been few
initiatives to consciously introduce representational issues in
design and brand development. In order to gain greater
awareness of the link between designing and branding, it may be
useful to connect product design features to representation. The
knowledge of how to do this has not yet been thoroughly
established.
In this work, the framework of product experience was utilized
in order to better understand the significance of form elements
and how these form elements can enhance the development of
brand attributes. Designers were asked to provide their
interpretive, expressive characteristics of car images and to
make sketches through manual morphing exercises. This was
followed by master’s degree students interpreting the sketches
of designers’ morphing sequences. In the experimental
investigation of the sketching process through morphing
sequence exercises, designers used individually driven styles
and approaches when creating product form. These approaches
produced characteristically different form ideas; these differed
and yet also showed consistency with respect to car category,
expression, identity, recognition, format, composition,
37
Relation to
research
questions:
complexity, etc.
Typically, assessment of generated sketch work and ideas is
conducted using relative heuristic evaluation in a comparative
design review. Given a large set of automotive sketches, general
patterns of styling emphasis can be identified. The paper
concluded that perceptions of designers are varied due to the
representation format of the ideas as visual hand sketches.
Visual hand sketches point out certain meaning and may be
categorized with respect to perceptual characteristics according
to the PPE framework. The visual hand sketches suggest that a
tool to support evaluation and generation of early design
concepts can be developed. This may support the generation of
form ideas with desired characteristics for a brand, product
category, and market.
 How do car designers generate exterior form through the
interactions among their sketching activities and
implicit/cognitive thinking patterns supported by their
attitudes, values, beliefs, and contextual assumptions?
 How were exterior car designs influenced by preceding
designs, and which specific elements, features, etc. were
addressed in the generation of incremental or radical design
changes with respect to these preceding designs?
 What were the differences in form development between
Automatic Computer Aided Morphing and manual form
generation conducted by designers?
 What are the meanings of elements and features that were
manually and unexpectedly transformed by designers, and
how do these relate to preceding designs?
38
6. Discussion
The concluding chapter of this thesis will discuss what has been learned as well as
the value of this research. This research focuses on practice-based design thinking
for form development and detailing, specifically with respect to automotive design.
In this discussion, a specific standpoint is taken toward the educational and
professional perspectives of formgiving in automotive design, as these have been
natural starting points for this research. Human thought processes are unpredictable
and inconsistent and can lead to surprising and creative results. However, there is a
gap between how the human mind actually works and how one operates CAD and
AMS applications. Empirical studies on manual morphing should suggest
improvements for CAD and AMS applications that will reduce this gap and also
enable CAD and AMS to take a more facilitative role in the development of
“creative” results. This may benefit designers, both in academia and in professional
practice, particularly with regard to thinking about form.
6.1
Formgiving in relation to Future Automotive Design
Education and Practice
The understanding of formgiving in automotive design education and professional
practice is essential for design students and practicing designers. Automotive
design is a sub-area of study under the frame of industrial design (see Tovey,
1992). In engineering design, industrial design has been recognized as a specialized
area that contributes to the development of new products (see Pahl & Beitz, 1996).
In the development process of automotive designs, it is possible to use
quantitative and structured approaches from engineering design to determine
frameworks and structures for formgiving. However, a qualitative approach to
formgiving supported by reflective and hermeneutic practices is more commonly
adopted in automotive design. Automotive design is much more related to the artbased school of thought in design thinking and designing, where the context is not
only the creation of useful artifacts or forms but also the creation of beauty in
relation to form (see Louridas, 1999).
Thus, in design science, utility and aesthetics are intertwined. The work of
art is a representation of something in the representation of art. This is a part of the
visible world. In non-representation of art, the work of art might represent
something else in its thoughts and ideas. Meanwhile, design science is related to
science appreciation. It is concerned with discovering facts about the world as well
as challenging the world (see Louridas, 1999). The work of science is related to
reasoning as well as the concreteness level of the forms.
In this research, we can see how, in creating form, the elements of art and
science blend together in order to meet current design challenges in the form
development process of automobiles. The use of problem-solving and synthesisanalysis strategies in the designing process allows the incorporation of elements of
experience and intuition from the automotive designer. These problem-solving and
synthesis-analysis strategies as well as elements of experience and intuition can be
quantitatively and qualitatively structured. In this research, the patterns of
formgiving and concepts such as “bone line” and “body” used in describing an
automotive external design (e.g., syntactic, pragmatic, and semantic) have been
identified and can be explicitly described and formalized. These formalizations
39
represent designers’ behavior and design attitudes. In the future, the formalizations
may be developed into design tools that can be formally taught within specific
contexts. For example, in the analysis of form structure (syntactic) in this research,
I found that designers focused consistently on the specific region of the car at the
intermediate form level (form features) and the detail form level (components)
rather than the superior form level (Gestalt). This finding might be the basis of
formalization. To address and minimize the diversity of designers’ individual styles
and approaches, a normative design reasoning approach can be used to interpret
certain forms with respect to sub-modes of representation in accordance within the
PPE framework. Results also indicated that, at a preliminary presentation level
(e.g., sketch level), meaning can be analysed and categorised into perceptual
characteristics according to the PPE framework. From an educational perspective,
this PPE framework can be taught as a tool to evaluate and generate early design
concepts to support the generation of form ideas with desired characteristics for a
particular brand, product category, and market. In short, the use of the PPE
framework in design education and practices can make form interpretation more
structured in documenting findings and establishing facts.
In terms of teaching basic design, certain results from this study can be
used to further develop fundamental formgiving strategies. These fundamental
strategies concern the semantic (meaning), pragmatic (facts) and syntactic
(structure) concepts in automotive design education and practice.
6.2
Design Thinking and Reasoning within the Context of
Automotive Design Education and Practice
Recently, design thinking with respect to design education has become an
increasingly important issue for academic research and design practice. Design
thinking relies completely upon the designer’s own memory, precedence, and
language abilities (see Lawson, 2004). In this case, designers demonstrate their
intuition, subjectivity, and tacit knowledge during the design process. How
designers think is mostly unconscious, taking place through episodic memory,
vague concepts, and imprecise definition (see Pahl & Beitz, 1996). In the design
context, a solution-focused approach to problem-solving is used. Designers are
forced to think of solutions to “ill-defined” problems that are not guaranteed and
offer no constant conditions.
Research on design thinking related to formgiving is more cognitive in
nature, addressing issues such as problem solving, procedural methods, heuristic
reasoning, and the nature of the design problem. However, in order to improve
design theory and process, it seems that the focus is traditionally has been more on
understanding the correlations of design thinking with the phenomena of
knowledge, application, and intention.
In this research, we can see that how the designer thinks about form can be
categorized into quantitative and more prevalent qualitative approaches. The
qualitative approaches are supported by my findings that suggest that designers’
morphing and sketching processes are characterized by a low level of consistency
(much variation between sets of transformations), a high level of selectivity (some
elements are transformed while others are left unattended), and a low level of
completeness (elements are only partially transformed throughout the stages of a
morphing sequence). This is in accordance with Goel’s (1995) description of the
sketching process as being vague, fluid, ambiguous, and amorphous–characteristics
40
that are beyond the capacity of current computational systems. From a design
reasoning perspective, the reflective practice and hermeneutic ways of thinking and
design reasoning complemented this vagueness, fluidity, and ambiguity in the
processes of car designing and sketching.
However, CAD and AMS morphing applications lack the hermeneutic and
reflective reasoning capabilities needed during formgiving processes. Therefore, it
is important to create awareness among practicing designers, design students, and
design educators that the core differences between how designers design and how
CAD systems morph can be deduced from a spectrum of design reasoning models,
supported by certain worldviews. Contrary to how designers develop exterior
automotive forms, CAD systems are built upon the roots of a positivistic and
problem-solving model of design reasoning.
How the differences in designing between designers and CAD systems
relate to different models of design reasoning is a theme for future research on
formgiving in automotive design education and practice. Future research should
focus on explaining the manifestation of design thinking to explore relationships
between the methods of “research by-through design-designing.”
Research by-through design-designing is a part of data gathered on design
through research projects. Data from research projects need to be compared with
other data from interviews, user-testing, literature, expert reviews, etc. By doing
this, one avoids having the research project be an entirely practice-based endeavor
or a purely subjective, uncritical work (Rodríguez Ramírez, 2009).
6.3
Evaluation, Verification and Validation
The means for verifying the validity of design theory are based on the principles of
logical verification and verification by acceptance, as suggested by Buur (1990).
Validation in this thesis is concerned with establishing the relevance and
meaningfulness of guidelines, theories, methods, and tools. Validity is the degree to
which a test measures what it is supposed to measure; it can include content area,
constructions, concurrentness, and predictions (Yin, 2003; Buur, 1990).
In this thesis, evaluation of the work is seen as a continuous and ongoing
process during the course of the research. The work is subject to scrutiny from
outside sources (i.e., the scientific evaluation procedure) as well as from sources
within the frame of the project (i.e., the researcher and the supervisors of this
work). In addition, evaluations are continuously performed in personal design
work, coursework, and industrial studies as well as through continuing discussions
with automotive designers, colleagues, and university lecturers.
This research is dependent on the participation of selected designers
representing different levels of career development, ranging from students to
experts. It includes discussion sessions with experts in the area of automotive
design representing academia and industry. The purpose of these discussions was to
evaluate the internal consistency of respondents' answers and assess the findings of
the studies.
Logical verification
Logical verification means there is: (1) consistency between individual elements of
the theory; (2) completeness (i.e., all relevant observed phenomena can be
explained or rejected by the theory); (3) agreement between the theory and wellestablished methods; and (4) theoretical explanations for case studies and specific
41
design problems. In this research work, it is also necessary to show a clearly
defined novelty in relation to well-established methods and theory. It has been
applied at the analysis of syntactic, pragmatic and semantic for form development
in automotive design.
Verification by acceptance
Verification by acceptance requires that statements of the relevant theory (axioms,
theorems) are acceptable to experienced designers as models and methods derived
from the theory. Factors affecting acceptance include ease of understanding as well
as complexity and the CAD and AMS interface.
This thesis includes verification of a correct understanding of the work
context (see Papers 1 and 2) as well as verification of the contributed theoretical
models, the information model, and the computer model.
For the statistical part of the study, the reliability of the analysis is based
on the Cronbach Alpha (CA) model.
The CA model is based upon the internal consistency of the respondents’
answers (see Sekaran, 2003, p. 327). It also analyzes the average correlation of
items within a test when items are standardized (see Paper 4).
For the experimental part of the study (see Papers 3, 5, and 6), the
reliability of the analysis is based on the direct evidence in the video observations
(Patton, 2002).
6.4
Further Work
This research has shown that, when designers think about form, the metaphorical
form is embodied. Verbal protocol analysis was conducted on designers performing
tasks of designing form; results indicated that form was embodied in several ways,
including text, drawing, and human tactile behaviors. Results from surveys and
observations showed positive correlations between designers’ perceptions of form
elements, form features, and components related to common characteristics of cars
(e.g., words related to expressive aspects). Designers performed manual morphing
exercises to stimulate them to think about formgiving; the information provided by
these exercises can assist CAD- and AMS-morphing processes. Again, the use of
the PPE framework in formgiving is significant for understanding form in relation
to processes of design thinking. These findings may lead to improvements of
formgiving processes, as they provide guidance to designers on how to both
manually and digitally improve automobile-styling processes using design-thinking
knowledge in design education and practice.
The insights gained through this work may be incorporated in future
research via theoretical and empirical studies.
Theoretical study
This study addresses form development through manual morphing approaches that
may assist development of AMS environments. Complementary theoretical studies
should address in greater depth how algorithms of existing and future CAD
software systems may contribute to the development of new tools and software for
form development and detailing in automotive design. The objective of a more
thorough complementary study on algorithms is to create an appropriate test
protocol based upon adapting a character of design, building, and testing form
structure to a meta-model. The/this metal-model would separate/assign the morphs
42
into specific domains that support form meaning. Also, it is important to explore
and develop algorithms for AMS which can control intuitive form features that may
have arbitrary structure.
Empirical analysis
Other methods of research such as “simulation trials” in empirical analysis should
be done in relation to a future study of CAD and AMS. These should be integrated
into existing CAD programs and may lead to a new type of CAD software. This can
be done through the improvement of CAD software via qualitative structure
instruments or tools in the design process, and may contribute to a new body of
knowledge through research in relation to cross-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary
studies.
43
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48
8. Appended Papers
49
Expected Count
Count
Expected Count
Count
Expected Count
Count
44.0
44
35.4
44
8.6
0
7
44.0
44
35.4
37
8.6
Car 16
15
44.0
44
35.4
29
8.6
Car 17
14
44.0
44
35.4
30
8.6
Car 19
42
8.6
2
44.0
44
35.4
Car 2
43
8.6
1
44.0
44
35.4
Car 3
19
44.0
44
35.4
25
8.6
Car 31
12
44.0
44
35.4
32
8.6
Car 33
7
44.0
44
35.4
37
8.6
Car 35
77
396.0
396
319.0
319
77.0
Total
50
Note: Car 1 – Front view of Volkswagen New Beetle, Car 2 – Front view of Citroën DS, Car 3 – Front view of BMW 3 Series, Car 16 – Side view of Smart Fortwo, Car
17 – Side view of Mini Cooper S, Car 19 – Side view of Mitsubishi Galant Fortis, Car 31 – Rear view of Volvo S80, Car 33 – Rear view of Audi TT, Car 35 – Rear
view of Volkswagen New Beetle.
Total
Yes
No
Car 1
Model
Table 2.1. Observed and expected frequencies on the perception of the designer based on car-model image
H0: Respondent perception is independent of car model image.
H1: Respondent perception is dependent of car model image.
Reject H0. Conclusion: respondent perception is dependent of car model image.
Paper 4, “Designers’ perceptions of typical characteristics of form treatment in automobile styling,” did not include a detail of the chi-square test
on page 150. Please see Table 2.1 and Table 2.2 for this.
Errata
Table 2.2. Chi-square tests
Value
df
Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)
a
8
.000
Likelihood Ratio
63.961
8
.000
N of Valid Cases
396
Pearson Chi-Square
53.718
a. 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is 8.56.
1
Paper 1
The “old masters” of engineering design and the
modern form development process of automobiles.
Abidin, S.Z., Sigurjónsson, J., & Liem, A. (2008). The “old masters” of
engineering design and the modern form development process of
automobiles. Proceedings of the Design 2008, 10th International Design
Conference, Dubrovnik-Cavtat, DS48-2, 1199-1206.
INTERNATIONAL DESIGN CONFERENCE - DESIGN 2008
Dubrovnik - Croatia, May 19 - 22, 2008.
The “old masters” of engineering design and the modern form development
process of automobiles
S. Z. Abidin, J. Sigurjónsson, and A. Liem
Keywords: aesthetics, engineering design, form development
1 Introduction
The modern form development process of automobiles exterior design (called hereafter the development process in short) traditionally consists of the embodiment design phase (or system-level design
phase) followed by the detail design phase. However, few changes have been made concerning the design process itself. Most of the existing methods are often structured around “concretization” of the
product during the design process: an iterative refinement and improvement of the features of the
product until production launch. Thus, the “Old Masters” way of working has been adapted to the different degrees of concretization of the product.
The term “Old Masters” is used to describe approaches from Gerhard Pahl and Wolfgang Beitz (Pahl
& Beitz), Vladimir Hubka (Hubka), Eskild Tjalve (Tjalve), and Karlheinz Roth (Roth) which have a
common characteristic approach based on working with principle solutions. From our point of view,
the development process can be refined with a designer-centered approach. Designer-centered means
here to focus to a larger extend on values and the cultural, the aesthetical and the emotional aspect of
the design. This is because in the design of manufactured products the specialist activities of industrial
design (in this context automotive design) and a wide range of engineering design techniques are
brought together [Tovey 1992]. So, designer-centered approach also means to regard the tacit frames
of an individual [Schön 1991] in context with his/her practice, cultural circumstances, methodology,
etc.
Comparing of the “Old Masters” of engineering design and the modern form development of automobiles may lead to a better design process, ensuring in turn more time and cost effective activities and
hopefully a better product quality. We also see a need for a research approach, which in our work,
consists of a descriptive study of the form development at work. In this context, this paper discusses
some important elements for form development from the “Old Masters.” In the following, we will
present the background of study, case examples based on the development of “Excavators” by Tjalve’s
[1976] and series of forms by morphing a “New Beetle to a BMW” by Chen et al. [2003] and finally a
conclusion.
2 Background
2.1 The “Old Masters” of engineering design
Methods that describe the form development process are largely related to the product concretization
process. Nevertheless, these methods often present elements that are oriented towards the designer’s
knowledge and skills. An examination of these elements is the basis for this study.
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
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One of the most detailed models of the form development process is described in Pahl & Beitz [1996].
They organize the embodiment design phase in 15 steps and the detail design phase in 5 steps. These
steps logically encourage the practitioner to begin with the most important parts of the product (“the
main function carriers”) and to iteratively refine and improve the layouts and form designs until the final design is produced. The detail design phase deals partly with the finalization of the product details
and controlling of standards, and partly with the integration of all the documentation for production
and archiving. In order to help the designer, a checklist is added to the process. The designer is encouraged to check systematically for a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration during the process. Accumulated experiences and practices have led to the application of some basic rules
as simplicity, clarity and safety. Pahl & Beitz emphasize the use of these rules and the use of these experiences and design practices at any step of the embodiment design and detail design phases. Moreover, the design process is connected to a certain number of principles and guidelines that help the designer in dealing with specific aspects and related problems of the form design activity.
The theory of technical systems is central to Hubka’s work [see Hubka & Eder 1982]. The procedural
model of the design process is structured around the concretization of the technical system. The steps
are similar to Pahl & Beitz process, even if detail design phase by Hubka’s (e.g., establishment of tolerances and surface properties). The structural model of the design process [Hubka & Eder 1982] is
the hierarchical decomposition of design activities. Below the level of the three main design phases
(conceptual design, embodiment design, and detail design), the design activities are arranged in four
levels, with respect to their complexity. Each activity of a lower level contributes to a higher – level
activity. The first level, design operations, gathers all activities dedicated to the realization of the technical system, irrespective of the design phase. The second level contains the problem – solving process
activities, and the third and fourth levels contain activities and actions that are independent of the design activity (e.g., “experiment” or “sketch”). The activities of each level are interdependent. Hubka
has also dedicated a chapter to the designer describing what a designer should be, rather than describing the designer’s actions and their consequences for the design process [Hubka & Eder 1982].
In Tjalve’s [1976] Systematic Designs of Industrial Products, the phases of the form development
process are denoted as system level design and detail design. The former focuses on the product architecture, while the latter focuses on actual details with regard to the embodiment and detailing of the
product part. The system level design process guides a designer through the particular problem of
product architecture.
Roth, in Konstruieren mit Konstruktionskatalogen [Roth 1989], regroups the form design phases into
one single phase - detail design. Unlike the other approaches, the process is not divided between the
conceptual design phase and the detail design phase. The designer may need to “jump” from one phase
to another depending on his or her needs. Thus, a step is made towards the exploitation of the designer’s skills and knowledge. The designer’s degree of freedom is also emphasized. Instead of a process,
two checklists are given, concerning general points and component design specification elements. As
in Pahl & Beitz [1996] these are completed with a selection of principles and guidelines. The simplicity rule is also well-emphasized here as a designer role.
The strategies and the methods used by the “Old Masters” of engineering design in form development
are based on the principle solution. Principle solution is a combination of working principles to fulfill
the overall function with first indication of embodiment design [Pahl & Beitz 1996]. One of the wellknown strategies related to the principle solution is the methods of quantified structure. According to
Tjalve’s [1976], the quantified structure brings us to a level in product synthesis where we can open
solution space by varying the way to realize the solution (see also Figure 4). The quantified structure is
a method of engineering design which uses variation to determine number or extent of element: to calculate or express the number, degree, or amount of element within a system or organization made up
of interrelated parts functioning as a whole. However, the method of quantified structure does not encourage for aesthetics considerations related to subjective, emotional and qualitative form experiences.
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
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2.2 Relevance of product semantics for form development in automotive design
From our point of view, supplements such as product semantics to the method of quantified structure
are important for automotive design. Therefore, we will give a short introduction to aesthetics and to
methods used to evaluate subjective, emotional and qualitative aspects of product design called semantics aspects.
Historically, aesthetics has been defined as the science of “sensuous knowledge,” meaning the knowledge one obtains through the senses, in contrast to the knowledge one obtains through the mind, the
subject of this science is beauty and ugliness [Monö 1997]. Moreover, a definition more commonly
used in modern days is that “aesthetics deals with the nature of beauty, art and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.” Appreciation of aesthetic values of visual form is part of the science
of perception psychology.
The perception of Gestalt is central in the appreciation of visual appearance in automotive design.
Gestalt is an arrangement of parts which appears and functions as a whole that is more than the sum of
its parts [Monö 1997]. The quality of the whole as being more than the sum of its parts’ means that
form, color, material structure are not introduced into the whole as isolated factors. A product can be
seen as a kind of trinity within the limits of an economic/ecological circumference. In design work we
can speak of a technical whole, an ergonomic whole and a communicative whole and still mean the
same totality (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. A product can be seen as a kind of trinity within the limits of an economic/ecological
circumference [Source: Monö 1997]
In presenting a psychological view of aesthetics appreciation, it represents a mode of form perception,
which is not determined by semantics interpretation.
There are several methods for the analysis of designer semantics interpretation [Wikström 2002]. The
semantics differential method for the analysis of the meaning of objects; wherein the meaning of
things is said to lie somewhere within a three dimensional semantics space. The position of the meaning of an object within the semantics space is determined through the evaluation of the object’s grade
of fulfillment of adjectives describing desired or non desired qualities. The evaluation is done using a
Likert scale (see Table 1).
Table 1. Adjective pairs connected to a Likert scale and graded by designer x and z
Adjective
Good
Modern
Feminine
Stable
3
x
2
z
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1
0
1
x
z
z
z
x
2
x
3
Antitheses
Bad
Traditional
Masculine
Unstable
1201
The adjective pairs used in the Likert scale are categorized into evaluation, potency and activity factors through a factor analysis. These three factors constitute the axes of the three dimensional semantics space. The values given by the designer to each adjective on the Likert scale defines the product’s
position within the three dimensional semantics space. Placed in the semantics space, the product
meaning can be compared with competing products’ meanings, or with a concept of a product with the
perfect meaning.
The product semantics analysis [Wikström 2002] is structured upon three of Monö’s four semantics
product functions; identify, describe and express. It is a tool for describe users’ emotional and cognitive requirements for a product, and assessing whether these requirements have been met in products
or product concepts. The quality of a product’s semantics functions to identify purpose and use and to
describe function can be measured by four parameters; intelligibility, response / handling time, correctness and insecurity.
For the analysis and evaluation of the quality of a products semantics function to express, the use of
semantics word scales is suggested. These are similar to the ones used in semantics differential.
It seems that product semantics present relevant supplements to methods such as the quantified structure since it allows opening solution space related to quantitative and qualitative decision-making in
the modern form development of automobiles.
2.3 The modern form development process of automobiles
The use of the method of quantified structure is an important element in the modern form development
processes. However, today the development of technology enables form creation to be expanded to
various perspectives like different aspects of aesthetics. One of the latest methods of the modern form
development process of automobiles based on the aesthetical dimension is the use of morphing techniques, which can be considered as an enlargement and merging of the “Old Masters” methods with
insights from cognitive psychology and the arts with the goal to open solutions space.
The uses of morphing techniques can solve certain aspects of problem-solving within the frame of the
form development process. The word “morphing” comes from the compound word Metamorphosis of
Greek origin. Metamorphosis is composed by two words - meta and morphosis which means the
changing way in form of structure. We commonly apply the word morphing as an abbreviation of metamorphosis [Chen & Parent 1989]. Morphing usually indicates a special effect on transformation between two images applied in movies or animations. It is most commonly applied in cross-fading techniques to achieve the transformation of one thing into another in films. For acquiring smooth distortion
in the morphing process, marking the appropriate corresponding points and vectors between target images is essential.
The shape creation method called shape averaging is used in the development of automobiles. Shape
averaging could produce a series of novel shapes between two typical shapes representing different
meanings. It is hypothesized that the average results are useful for predicting trends in form, or for extracting stereotypes from a group of related shapes. The technique can be used to create new forms by
blending general features of existing unrelated shapes. The algorithms of shape averaging could extract the mean, median and mode forms from the average shape [Chen & Parent 1989]. Figure 2,
shows the blending results between car shape and teardrop shape at different weighted averaging ratios.
Figure 2. Weighted averaging shapes from a car and the teardrop shape under rations of (a)
70/30, (b) 50/50, and (c) 30/70 [Source: Chen and Parent 1989]
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
1202
For understanding how product shapes evoke affective responses, Chen et al. [2003] conducted a survey to evaluate the affective characteristics of each of the product shapes related to the product semantics analysis above. Semantics itself describe users’ emotional and cognitive requirements for a product, and assessing whether these requirements have been met in products pr product concepts
[Wikström 2002].
A perceptual map of automobile shapes was constructed for further study of relationship between automobile shapes and the affective responses. Nineteen representative automobiles and seven adjectives
were chosen for analyses. Using a multidimensional scaling program (MDPREF), they constructed the
perceptual map. They also used a preference – mapping program (PREFMAP) to determine the location of the vector corresponding to each adjective in the perceptual map, Figure 3.
Figure 3. Perceptual map of 19 representative automobiles and 7 representative adjectives
[Source: Chen et al. 2003]
In the perceptual map, if two adjectives look similar, then the position of these two aspects will be
closer. On the other hand, if two adjectives look dissimilar, the corresponding points will be further
away from each other. Observing the perceptual space of nineteen automobiles and seven adjectives,
the researchers found that there are many empty spaces (indicated by dotted circular lines). How can
we fill up the map and predict the unknown new form at a specific position?
The values determined out of perceptual mapping, such as futuristic, streamlined, dazzling, etc. should
form the variables for the morphing technique.
This can be done by developing an algorithm that works on the characteristics of the gestalt such as X,
Y, and Z. Reverting to the “Old Masters,” the method of quantified structure is also an important element in the modern form development processes. However, semantics should have been more emphasized and acknowledged as a valuable asset complementary to the quantified structure approach in the
generation of the overall design. A frequently used method in the modern form development process
of automobiles based is the use of morphing techniques, which can be considered as a valuable tool to
enlarge and integrate the “Old Masters” methods with insights from cognitive psychology and the arts.
This integration should also enlarge the already opened solutions space.
Similarly to the quantified structure approach, a semantic algorithm should be developed to create new
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
1203
forms based on values out of perceptual mapping. The following case example shows a quantified
structure approach according to the practice of the “Old Masters” as well as the modern form development approach based on morphing techniques. The example does not show a direct connection between use of quantified structure method and morphing to facilitate modern form development.
However, this does not mean that the use of quantified structure is irrelevant in the modern form development process of automobiles. The modern form development addresses the need and future possibility of adapting the method of quantifying engineering structures to a semantic-based form generating structure. This form generating structure should enlarge the solution space and bring us to a level
in product synthesis where we can move from one principle solution to another solution related to
form development.
3. Case examples
This section describes how the strategies and the methods of quantified structure are used by the “Old
Masters” of engineering design and modern form development of automobiles. The “Old Masters” of
engineering design considered form development in design based on quantified structure that enables
us to realize principle solutions. It is based on the variation of relative arrangement - number and dimensions. Tjalve [1976] and Hubka & Eder [1982] stated that quantified structure is used from two
points of view.
Figure 4. Quantified structures for an excavator [Source: Tjalve 1976]
They differ between the elements in which the functional connection can either be included or not. If
these functional connections are ignored, the structure variation method gives a number of suggestions
for a very rough construction of the product. If the functional connections are included, we get a definite further development of the basic structure, with the aim of optimizing and specifying the parameters involved. Figure 4 shows some quantified structures for an excavator and demonstrate how three
of these are employed in existing excavators.
The functional connection between the most important elements is expressed in the basic structure,
most often in some sort of sketch showing the principle of the design, where commonly accepted
symbols for known elements (machine, hydraulic, pneumatic, electric symbol, etc) are used.
As long as this sketch expresses the basic structure, it is exempted from any definite dimension of
form. However, it may be the starting point for a series of quantified structures built on the structure
variation method with the relative arrangements and dimensions as parameters for each separate element in the basic structure.
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
1204
Table 2. The modern form development of automobiles based on quantified structure using
morphing techniques [Source: Chen et al. 2003]
Products
Adjectives
Cute
1
0
1
Powerful
In modern form development process of automobiles, the use of quantified structure is still significant.
The modern form development brings us to a level in product synthesis where we can move from one
principle solution to another solution related to aesthetics.
This is illustrated in Table 2 with a series of shapes that has been obtained by morphing a New Beetle
to a BMW [Chen et al. 2003]. A series of new shapes that smoothly interpolate among shapes have
been generated by using image morphing techniques. We can see that the path of distribution of the interpolated shapes provides image of how emotional characteristics change in responses to varying
shapes. The uses of morphing techniques make the overall form uncover the solutions in relation to the
aesthetical form and the solution principle form in parallel.
4. Conclusions
This paper hopes to provide a better understanding about the possibilities and limitations of the “Old
Masters” of engineering design for modern form development of automobiles. We found that the “Old
Masters” of engineering design consider form development in design based on quantified structure
while in the modern form development process of automobiles is additionally related to aesthetics in a
broader understanding including product semantics. Thus, the interpretation of the quantified structure
approach and product semantic analysis and their connection seems to be appropriate as a result of
study. In the product synthesis, design approaches from the two parties are similar as far as the development allows us to move gradually from one solution to another. Future research should investigate
the possibility of developing a semantics algorithm to develop a similar structure for “opening the solution space,” similar to the quantified structure approach.
Acknowledgement
Thanks to the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia and the Universiti Teknologi MARA for funding this
work.
References
Chen, S.E., Parent, R.E., “Shape Averaging and Its Applications to Industrial Design”. IEEE Computer
Graphics & Applications, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1989, pp. 47-54.
Chen, L.L., Wang, G.F., Hsiao, K.A.., Liang, J., “Affective Product Shapes through Image Morphing”,
Proceedings of the DPPI’ 03, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2003, pp. 11-16.
Hubka, V., Eder, W.E., “Principles of Engineering Design”, Butterworths London, UK, 1982.
Monö, R., “Design for Product Understanding”, Liber Stockholm, Sweden, 1997.
Pahl, G., Beitz, W., “Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach (2nd Rev. Ed.)”, Springer London, UK, 1996.
Roth, K.-H., “Konstruieren mit Konstruktionskatalogen (Design with Construction Catalogs)”, Springer-Verlag
Berlin, Germany, 1989.
Schön, D.A. (Ed.), “The Reflective Turn: Case Studies In and On Educational Practice”, Teachers College New
York, USA, 1991.
Tjalve, E., “Systematisk Udformning Af Industriprodukter (Systematic Design of Industrial Products)”,
Butterworth-Heinemann Kgs- Lyngby, Denmark, 1976.
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
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Tovey, M., “Intuitive and objective process in automotive design”, Design Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1992, pp. 2341.
Wikström, L., “Produktens budskap: metoder för värdering av produkters semantika funktioner ur ett användarperspectiv”, Institutionen för produkt – och produktionsutveckling, Chalmers tekniska högskola Göteborg, Sweden, 2002.
Corresponding author full name and title: Shahriman Zainal Abidin
Position: PhD student
Institution/University, Department: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Product
Design
Address, City, Country: Kolbjørn Hejes vei 2B, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
Telephone: +47 73590121
Telefax: +47 73590110
Email: [email protected]
URL: http://www.ntnu.no/portal/page/portal/ntnuen/three_columns?sectionId=17790
WORKSHOP 3: INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
1206
Paper 2
On the role of formgiving in design.
Abidin, S.Z., Sigurjónsson, J., Liem, A., & Keitsch, M. (2008). On the role
of formgiving in design. Proceedings of E&PDE 08, 10th International
Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - New
Perspective in Design Education, Barcelona, DS46-1, 365-370.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENGINEERING AND PRODUCT DESIGN EDUCATION
4 & 5 SEPTEMBER 2008, UNIVERSITAT POLITECNICA DE CATALUNYA, BARCELONA, SPAIN
ON THE ROLE OF FORMGIVING IN DESIGN
1,3
1
1
Shahriman ZAINAL ABIDIN , Jóhannes SIGURJÓNSSON , André LIEM
2
and Martina KEITSCH
1
Department of Product Design, Norwegian University of Science and
Technology (NTNU), Norway
2
Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), Norway
3
Department of Industrial Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia
ABSTRACT
This paper discusses different interpretations of the word “formgiving” in design
literature. A comparative study has been made between the two main areas of design,
industrial design (ID) and engineering design (ED). The main findings are that in ID,
the use of the keyword formgiving is related to the artistic visual elements, while in ED
the use of this same keyword is related to the engineering principle solutions. In terms
of the approaches of formgiving in design, for ID, which is related to art and design,
qualitative measurement is the preferred way of documenting the findings, which in this
context refers to the quality or type of form. In ED, which is related to technology and
engineering, quantitative measures are common. Quantitative, in this context, relates to
the quantity or amount of the form. The totality of formgiving can, however, only been
examined by using linguistic interpretations. Finally, within these two areas of design,
the study illustrates that formgiving can also be influenced by aesthetics features. The
aesthetics in this perspective can be interpreted as a study of the effect of formgiving on
human sensations. The focus here is on the appearance or the consequence of the form.
This differs from most/previous publications which deal with creation and appreciation
of the form.
Keywords: aesthetics, design, formgiving, shaping
1
INTRODUCTION
In the design process, the most crucial part in making the product appearance
outstanding is during form creation [1]. Form in design means to shape or mould a
particular model into a certain state or shape.
For more than 20 years, the word formgiving or form-giving has been commonly used in
Scandinavian countries. According to the Norwegian dictionary, the meaning of
“formgivning” or “formgjeving” is fashioning, molding: industrial design. Previously,
most of the design authors used the word “shaping” in the same meaning as formgiving.
Moreover, available Standard English dictionaries do not interpret the meaning of
formgiving. But yet, it seems that the use of the word formgiving has become popular
among many design authors when discussing design practice.
Formgiving, when used in engineering design, relates sometimes to a specific phase in
the design process: the part in which a solution-principle is developed into a
materialized design [2]. Here, the emphasis is on the embodiment; the determination of
form and material, as well as the process of bringing both in line with each other.
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In this paper, we intend to provide some viewpoints about formgiving based on the
following structure: (1) introduction; (2) elements and properties of product form; (3)
the comparative study of formgiving based on different approaches in design; (4)
discussion; and (5) conclusion. The aim of this study is to uncover the meaning of the
keyword of formgiving and demonstrate how its role contributes to the product
appearance.
2
ELEMENTS AND PROPERTIES OF PRODUCT FORM
In Industrial Design (ID), the creating of form(s) during designing involves the
understanding of use of basic entities of visual elements (VE) such as point, line, plane
or surface, and volume (see Figure 1), as well as the organization rules and principles
for putting together the composition or structure [3]. VE form part of the attributes of
form that create tone and texture, imparting visual interest and meaning. Their
importance becomes evident through their use in generating images and form(s) that are
both two dimensional (2D) and three dimensional (3D).
Figure 1 Four basic visual elements (Akner-Koler, 2000, p.7, and Muller, 2001, p.80)
According to Wallschlaeger [4], defining and relating the application of VE to visual
studies is sometimes most challenging since the term(s) can be interpreted and used in
different ways, not only in art and design but in other disciplines, especially
engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, and the humanities. To give a clearer
picture, the mathematician may think about defining words such as point, line, plane or
surface, and volume in abstract terms. In geometrical terms, a point has no dimension. It
is only attributed in defining a location or position. A line is thought as a point in
motion within space, and it has only one dimension length. A plane or surface is a flat
surface bound by lines that has the attributes of length and width, but no depth. Volume,
in conceptual terms, is described as a plane in motion of a direction other than its
inherent direction. For example, a 3D form is derived from and enclosed by planes that
have a position in 3D space.
In Engineering Design (ED), the creating of form(s) can be based on several form
generation models. Many of these models are based on principle solutions such as the
problem-solving process [5], and synthesis–analysis order [6]. The problem-solving
process is an activator assisting in the creative process that in a general sense
encompasses a variety of activities with widespread applications [1]. This process is
found in a form as either a structured and unstructured way, and can also result in the
generation of form(s). The problem-solving process also considers the design activity as
a problem to solve [5]. Besides, synthesis-analysis is considered here as a compound
activity as it involves search, exploration and discovery of design solutions, and
composition and integration of these solutions [6].
The use of the method of quantified structure is common in ED in the creation of form.
Tjalve [7] states that quantified structure is used from two points of view that differ by
whether or not the functional connections between the elements can be included. If
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these functional connections are ignored, the structure variation method gives a number
of suggestions for a very rough construction of the product. If the functional
connections are included, we get a definite further development of the basic structure,
with the aim of optimizing and specifying the parameters involved.
In order to see the gap in different uses of meaning of formgiving in ID and ED, a
comparative study has been carried out.
3
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF FORMGIVING BASED ON DIFFERENT
APPROACHES IN DESIGN
Two experts in representing different views on design education have been selected as
case examples in this paper. The first, Cheryl Akner-Koler (Akner-Koler), has been
educated in ID [3], and the second one, Wim Muller (Muller), has been educated in ED
[2].
Akner-Koler states that the evolution of form can be done through several stages such as
join (u-joint, o-joint), intersectional (core), divide (accordance, discordance), adapt
(assimilate, dissimilate), merge (converge, diverge), distort (conform, deform) as well
as organic or geometric (convexo-concave, concavo-convex).
Figure 2 Form evolution based on visual elements by Akner-Koler (2000, pp.46-47)
The evolution can be expanded using the manipulation of VE until the designer is able
to select the appropriate form and use it for detailing and further refinement until the
embodiment phases (see Figure 2). This is the sample of form evolution, 3D form
model, bringing geometric structures to organic structures created by Akner-Koler. The
first horizontal axis presents a sequence of geometrically derived forms that gradually
take on organics quality of convexities and concavities. The second axis expands the
model in the vertical dimension to include a bipolar spectrum at each stage. The vertical
dimension opens up a dichotomy (separation of different or contradictory things)
between congruent (with same form) and incongruent properties in relation to the
original features of the geometric form. This makes it seem as if form has been
developed throughout qualitative structure (based on the quality or character of form).
According to Muller, in the beginning of form generation phase, designers have
indicated that the core of design is founding the transition of function into form, and
then, this transition marks the form creation phase through the evolution process. The
difficulty of the transition and the great challenge for designers is the fact that in
principle many solutions are possible and, in addition, not one single correct solution
can be determined for the fulfillment of a technological function.
Many different viewing positions are required to get an impression of formal material
elements and the plasticity of complex touch form. However, Muller illustrates that
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form evolution is developed from the primitive object through the topological,
typological and morphological levels, and it does not only refer to exterior geometric
form, but also to the physico-chemical form or material composition of an object.
Figure 3 Form evolution based on principle solutions by Muller (2001, p.281)
Muller, in one part of his example, believes that different form compositions act as the
starting point for an exercise in “form integration.” Starting from a composition, an
integrated whole has to be obtained by means of additive and/or subtractive
transformation by the manipulation of principle solutions through quantitative structure
(see Figure 3). This is similar to the approaches of Tjalve [7] for the quantified
structure. For Akner-Koler and Muller, understanding and perceiving the potential
expressions of form that are embraced in the “Form evolution” model, a broad
aesthetical attitude to formgiving can be developed. The organizational capacity that is
represented through form and space offers this pluralistic structure that can create
coherency out of seemingly disparate demands.
4
DISCUSSION
An analysis based on the approaches by Akner-Koler and Muller has provided more
similar patterns rather than differences toward the meaning of formgiving as form
creation (see Section 3).
4.1 Design inspired and measurement approaches
While formgiving requires design-inspired approaches, understanding engineering
principle solutions can make the design process easier. Design can be based on patterns
in nature and on mechanical functions. It can also be based on other factors such as the
use of code of language, semantics, symbols, reproductions, or the individual choices of
the designer [7, 8]. In terms of measurement approaches for formgiving in design,
Akner-Koler who relates to art and design prefers qualitative measurement for
documenting findings, while Muller who relates to technology and engineering,
quantitative measures are more commons.
4.2 Formgiving related to the aesthetics
Current design solutions require consideration of aesthetics features all the way from
form surface appearance to making the form marketable. The aesthetics goal of a design
concept toward formgiving is mainly interpreted as a natural (e.g., beautiful or ugly)
form and as a creation for spatial condition. Aesthetics in this context mean the study of
the effect of product gestalt on human sensations [8]. Product gestalt, in turn, is the
arrangement of parts which constitute and function as a whole product, but which is
more than the sum of its parts.
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For Muller aesthetics is a measure that gives the impression that beauty benefits from a
high degree of ordering and low complexity; “the simpler, the more beautiful” is what
theory tells us. However, besides immediate sensuous responses, aesthetics have always
been connected to the function of linguistic interpretations like semantics too.
Semantics includes the dimension of semiosis, and the study of semantic aspects of sign
systems, the production of meaning by signs, as well as their interpretation. The term
“Semiosis,” was coined by Charles Sanders Peirce as a performance element involving
signs. Semiosis means relationship between what a sign refers, the representation, and
the understanding of the sign in the “mind” of the sign receiver. Akner-Koler in 2006 in
her article about “Expanding the boundaries of form theory: Developing the model
Evolution of form” tries to relate aesthetics in the development of form, which plays an
important role in formgiving development. However, her appreciations about the
aesthetics seem similar to Muller who is more focused on sensational aesthetics aspects.
4.3 Advantages of formgiving development in design education
There are many potential advantages incorporating formgiving understanding; and the
form development process in design education. Since aesthetics play a major role either
in ID and ED, people can correlate formgiving with elegance, efficiency, robustness and
alertness. When formgiving features are incorporated into the layout of modern cars,
people are more likely to perceive the car as elegant, efficient, and good function
performance. It is important for the final product form.
One example is by applying animal form (zoomorphism) to the design. Animal form is
now uses in the styling of modern motorcars design [9]. Many animals are highly
optimized for fast movement and this produces aesthetics features such as curvaceous,
forms, symmetry, wholeness and distinctive body profiles. Here the character of the
Cougar animal is mapped onto the Ford Cougar car (see Figure 4) by reflecting to
prominent features of the animal face (e.g., Headlamp – Eye). This kind of similarities
can also be seen in other models of car such as Jaguar XK, Volkswagen Beetle, etc.
Figure 4 Cougar animal and Ford Cougar car
Since people often associate animals with elegance and efficiency, the use of animal
forms in car styling can lead to form with a wide appeal. In addition, the use of animal
forms is inherently compatible with functional requirements because of the high level of
optimization of nature forms. Instead of animal form, the nonhumans form
(anthropomorphism) which base its attributes on human characteristics can also been
considered as references in the design. It can be built on to become a more specific
design when embodied agents are designed for specific task and domains like gender,
casting, and recasting [10]. Gender is a primary design feature and should be a critical
consideration in design of embodied agents. Casting is a means of fleshing out agent
personality. Recasting is a means for creating experiences within and across product
use. One important question is how we use cannon-animal form and cannon-nonhumans
form to visualize ideas?
However, the use of metaphors, meaning, symbols, and signs as influence can transmit
formgiving to the aesthetical judgment. Furthermore, the use of analysis based on
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semantics and semiotics in relation to aesthetics is expected make form able to capture
human attention.
5
CONCLUSION
In this paper, we conclude that the definition for the keyword of formgiving is form
creation, and it deals with the concreteness of aesthetical reasoning in the design
process. There are three levels of form development in design phase: (1) The early
phase, when we question the orientation of the image elements; (2) The middle phase,
when we need to consider the type of form in which we format the image elements; and
(3) The final phase, when we make decisions that lead to a more detailed picture of the
image developed so far. All of these phases involve a well-known transitional process of
form evolution. The finding shows that the use of linguistic interpretations is significant
as a mean of analysis in order to examine formgiving. In terms of the measurement
approaches of formgiving in design, from Akner-Koler’s (ID) art and design
perspective, qualitative measurement is the preferred way of documenting the finding.
Meanwhile, from Muller’s (ED) technology and engineering perspective, quantitative
measures are common. Finally, within these two areas of design, the study shows that
formgiving can also be influenced by aesthetical features.
Our future work will include exploring the notion of qualitative structure and
quantitative structure throughout the methodology featuring formgiving, in order to
understand how it might change the use of the method underlying the designer’s way of
thinking.
REFERENCES
[1] Pahl, G. and Beitz, W. Engineering design: A systematic approach. Second edition,
(Springer – Verlag, London, 1996).
[2] Muller, W. Order and meaning in design. (Lemma Publishers, Utrecht, 2001).
[3] Akner-Koler, C. Three-dimensional visual analysis. (Reproprint, Stockholm, 2000).
[4] Wallschlaeger, C. and Busic-Snyder, C. Basic visual concepts and principles for artists,
architects, and designers. (McGraw Hill, Boston, Mass., 1992).
[5] Simon, H.A. The new science of management. (Harper, New York, 1961).
[6] Sim, S.K. and Duffy, A.H.B. Towards an ontology of generic engineering design
activities. Research in Engineering Design, 2003, 14 (4), 200-223.
[7] Tjalve, E. Systematic Design of Industrial Products. (Butterworth-Heinemann Publisher,
Kgs. Lyngby, 1976).
[8] Monö, R. Design for product understanding, (Liber, Stockholm, 1997)
[9] Burgess, S.C. and King, A.M. The application of animal forms in automotive styling,
The Design Journal, 2004, Vol. (7-3), 41-52.
[10] Forlizzi, J., Zimmerman, J., Mancuso, V. and Kwak, S. How interface agents affect
interaction between humans and computers. Designing Pleasurable Products and
Interfaces, 2007, 209-221.
Shahriman ZAINAL ABIDIN
Department of Product Design
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Kolbjørn Hejes vei 2b, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
[email protected]
+ 47 734 90121
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Paper 3
The embodied mind in relation to thinking about
form development.
Abidin, S.Z., Bjelland, H.V., & Øritsland, T.A. (2008). The embodied
mind in relation to thinking about form development. Proceedings of the
NordDesign 2008 Conference, Tallin, DS50, 265-274.
NordDesign 2008
August 21 – 23, 2008
Tallinn, Estonia
The embodied mind in relation to thinking about form
development
Shahriman Zainal Abidin
Department of Product
Design
Norwegian University of
Science and Technology
7491 Trondheim
NORWAY
shahriman.zainal.abidin
@ntnu.no
Hans Vanhauwaert Bjelland
Trond Are Øritsland
Department of Product
Department of Product
Design
Design
Norwegian University of
Norwegian University of
Science and Technology
Science and Technology
7491 Trondheim
7491 Trondheim
NORWAY
NORWAY
[email protected]
[email protected]
Abstract
This paper explores the notion that form development is fundamentally a process of the
embodied mind. Traditional design methodology recommends that we should design by
moving from concrete problem descriptions to abstract solution models. The abstract models
are then developed towards concrete solutions via functional principles and principle
structures. However, in the automobile industry concepts such as bone line and body are used
when describing a car. We want to explore whether the designer is using some kind of
metaphorical understanding instead of structural principles. A verbal protocol analysis
showed that the designer uses his hand to understand product form while drawing it. This
leads us to think that mental images interact in some way with action schema to play a part in
the designers’ apparently intuitive form-giving. This is in agreement with Lakoff and
Johnson’s proposal that metaphorical thinking is embodied. The results suggest that a closer
look at embodied mind theory might be beneficial to understanding some of the apparently
intuitive processes of the designer. We propose that such a study may provide us with ways of
understanding and facilitating intuitive processes in design.
Keywords: form, tactility, thinking
1. Introduction
The word intuition is commonly used when explaining designers work. In general terms,
“intuition” is the power or faculty of attaining direct knowledge or cognition without evidence
of rational thought and inference [1]. It is a quick process. Sometimes it seems magical and is
not necessarily a conscious process. To our knowledge, it is unexplainable, though several
proposals exist. We will look at one of these before moving on to the question of how
designers use intuition.
There are several directions of theoretical and neurological explanation of creativity and
intuition. For our study a point of departure is Mumford and Caughron’s [2] commentary to
Vandervert et al. [3] which provides broad support for the proposal that creativity and
intuition come from the basic motor properties in the brain. “The cerebellum serves to
abstract mental models reflecting patterns of activity and this forms the basis for language
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development and finally complex metaphorical representations. These models may be either
forward (predictive in nature) or inverse (serving to produce automatic responses). Within
the theory proposed by Vandervert et al., it is these forward mental models that provide the
basis for creative thought in that multiple models, and multiple hypotheses, are activated in
novel situations. The combination of these models, which in their view are primarily visual in
nature, gives rise to new ideas. These new ideas are subject to both revision, and error-based
testing, in formulating a creative idea [2].” Moreover, from trial-and-error we can identify
what seems to be a general characteristic of so called intuitive environments or contexts of
direct or unmediated engagement – or engaging atmospheres [4]. Applying Vandervert et al.’s
model to design practice we see that technical function might be understood by the actions of
the body. The designer can also work backward from the functions the product is supplying to
the user and create representations of internal technical processes. The common term used in
the technical development process related to the creation of new design is form-giving.
Form-giving in design could mean to shape or mould a particular mental model into a certain
shape. In industry, it seems that the designer always associates form-giving with the
aesthetics. The aesthetics element of form should also be explainable as embodied mental
models, language and metaphor. Aesthetics here means designed aesthetics, the study of
beauty related to effect of gestalt design on sensations [5]. Gestalt in design is defined as a
totality of form experiences.
Finally, in order to relate something visual to the physical and emotional world, designers
must transform a brief and background information into a new idea. The designer generates a
gestalt by using language and then transforming it to physical activity such as human gestures
or drawings or collages in order to produce a form, and the result of that should be to get a
feel for its tactility, activity and experience. Moreover, repeated bodily interactions lead to the
formation of image schemes determining the way we understand the world [6], and thus a
new design is born.
We have shown that interpretation and understanding of form may stem from embodied
mental models. The question is can we harness the embodied understanding of a product by
facilitating it? We have conducted an experiment to this purpose, but before reporting on it we
will briefly turn to traditional industrial design and engineering for signs of intuition or
embodied thinking.
2. Thinking related to design activity
A few “Old Masters” of engineering design like Gerhard Pahl and Wolfgang Beitz, Vladimir
Hubka, Eskild Tjalve, and Karlheinz Roth tried to make guidelines and catalogs related to the
uses of engineering principle solutions (e.g., functional principles and principle structures) in
order to assist designers in generating and developing an idea. However, the concept of
intuition is not covered by them in great depth? Only Pahl and Beitz state that “…good ideas
are always scrutinized by the subconscious or preconscious in the light of expert knowledge,
experience and the task in hand, and often the simple impetus resulting from the association
of ideas suffices to force them into consciousness [7].” It is apparent that the “Old Masters”
way of thinking in the engineering design process is more toward problem-solving
approaches. Problem-solving approaches are still being used by the designer in engineering
design.
According to Simon the problem-solving process considers the design activity as a problem to
solve [8]. For him, there are different variants, but all problem-solving process models can be
described as a gap between an Observed State (So) and a Desired State (Sd), So≠Sd given a set
of constraints. The procedure to apply in order to get to the desired state may be unknown. An
observed state and a desired state may need to be refined and can change over time. Most of
problem-solving process is related to three stages; (1) Intelligence (to understand an observed
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state, a desired state, the constrains and define them), (2) Design (to generate solutions), and
(3) Selection (to decide: (a) to redefine the problem which means going back to intelligence,
(b) to refine or find new solutions which means going back to design, and (c) to choose one
solution which involves finding evaluation criteria). However, problem-solving does not
provide any tool or concepts for intuition.
Beside problem-solving, synthesis is also considered an apex of design activities. Synthesis is
considered here as a compound activity as it involves search, exploration and discovery of
design solutions, and the composition and integration of these solutions [9]. The definition of
synthesizing in design activities is the result of abstracting and generating design concept(s)
and structuring concepts to form a whole. This process may be modeled on two axes labeled
abstract/concrete and undetailed/detailed (see [10, 11]). Modeling are activities used to
represent the design solutions in terms of their function and/or structure so that their
performance in terms of behavior can be analyzed and evaluated through testing in a real
world of full-size or scale models, or simulated in possible worlds.
The designer views designing as a conversation with the materials and constraints conducted
through the medium of drawing. The process is characterized as a reflective conversation with
materials whose basic structure, seeing–moving–seeing, is an interaction of designing and
discovery (see [12, 13]). For instance Schön states that “…the designer sees what is there in
some representation of a site, draws in relation to it, and sees what has been drawn, thereby
informing further designing.” Lakoff and Johnson state that the most fundamental metaphor
Descartes uses is the commonplace “Knowing is seeing” metaphor. There are two domains in
this metaphor the visual domain and knowledge domain (see Table 1). The “Knowing is
seeing” metaphor defines the core of a folk theory about how the mind works that is widely
shared in our intellectual operations [14]. What Schön is saying is basically the same thing.
Designers use visualization as a means of triggering new insights into the material they are
working with. The insights may come from schemas or mental models, but they may also be
analogies to something else.
Table 1. Knowing is seeing (from Lakoff and Johnson [14])
Visual domain
Object seen
Seeing an object clearly
Person who sees
Light
Visual focusing
Visual acuity
Physical viewpoint
Visual obstruction
Knowledge domain
Idea
Knowing an idea
Person who knows
“Light” of reason
Mental attention
Intellectual acuity
Mental viewpoint
Impediment to knowing
→
→
→
→
→
→
→
→
Designers use metaphor as a strategic approach during design activity. A metaphor is a figure
of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in
place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. For example: the
“conversation is war” metaphor or “time is money” metaphor. This method is employed
visually as well, for instance in collages or semantic charts or as explanatory graphics in
software user interface design.
The human body metaphor is generally used in the car industry. Designers often talk of “hard
muscles” under “soft flesh,” referring to the conceptual differentiation between kinds of
underlying structure that state the characteristic shapes of the car from the merely cosmetic
surface [15]. The concept of a solid structure under the surface of the car body is also called
“a bone line” that defines the gestalt design of the car.
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This way of thinking is opposite to the approaches from the “Old Masters” of engineering
design. Their approaches are structured within concrete problem descriptions to abstract
solution models. But yet, it seems that there are possibilities for using intuition as an
alternative to engineering methodology.
3. Thinking with the embodied mind: is intuition an alternative to engineering
methodology?
Since the “Old Masters” of engineering design did not give rise to a way of research related to
the use of intuition during the design process, this may have limited the designer’s way of
thinking to associate ideas between the mind and the body. However, Lakoff and Johnson’s
statement about the notion of intuition in the design world seems to provide an option for
another way of thinking. Even though intuition is fuzzy in current design practice, it still can
be considered as an alternative to improve the design process.
In daily life, humans like to use the images in words such as ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’ to invoke
moods in an object or a product. However, the psychological problems of focusing the image
or feelings for a product are full of fuzziness and uncertainties. Traditionally, this mental
recognition problem with high fuzziness is solved by the designer using his/her intuitive
feeling as well as experience and inspiration from artistic work, and habit. However,
designers from engineering always struggle to find the right methodology for this kind of
fuzziness in design.
Based on the above reason, the study of intuition related to engineering methodology has
attracted many engineering designers lately. Instead of quantitative methods which involve
the measurement of quantity or amount, qualitative methods which involve the measurement
of quality or kind have been used in design research [16]. Most engineering designers attempt
to carry out design research focused on the combination of human physical activity and
mental activity. They also explore a lot of possible ways of conducting experiments connected
to the study about intuition. Some of them try to use existing instruments (equipment for
measuring and recording data) from other disciplines [17] such as neurology in psychology,
cognitive science, etc and matching those with the engineering instruments in order to study
the language of intuition in design. Engineering methodology has failed to apply these tools to
understand the cognitive-psychology and the neuro-psychology of the designer through
experimentation. Instead, most of them discovered interesting findings during this kind of
experimentation based on personal experience.
Indirect
Television
Bicycle
Direct
Figure 1. Indirect-direct continuum user interfaces (adapted from
Hoff, Øritsland, and Bjørkli [18])
In order to identify the elements that constitute the “goodness” of personal experience in the
language of intuition, we refer to an experiment carried out by Hoff, Øritsland, and Bjørkli
[18] on indirect-direct continuum user interfaces (see Figure 1), in which indirect (or “second
hand”) information refers to activities that tap explicit reasoning; and direct (or “first hand”)
experience refers to perception-action cycles. Perception-action cycles again, refer to skillbased knowledge, in which “knowledge” refers to knowing how, as opposed to knowing what.
The indirect interface requires the user to explicitly reason about information and interface,
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one such example being the user interface information in the television. The domain of
indirect interfaces represents a range of logical information, such as pictures, texts, and
numbers that can be measured quantitatively. Meanwhile, the direct interface requires the user
to employ skill-based, tacit knowledge, for example, the skill of riding a bicycle. The domain
of the direct interfaces provides practical problems such as how to react and balance the body
of human when riding a bicycle and it can be measured but no measurements directly convey
the feeling you need to master bike riding. Qualitative methods come closest because they can
communicate in expressive language.
Since intuition is related more to qualitative than quantitative qualities, we believe that the
experiment related to the empirical study of intuitive form development in design should be
conducted using qualitative method. The purpose is to see how perception-action cycles and
explicit reasoning interact between subject, and mental representation.
4. Empirical study of intuitive form development
In order to empirically explore intuitive form development we conducted an experiment. A
fourth year student from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) (called
hereafter the designer in short) kindly agreed to participate in this experiment. The controlled
experiment was conducted based on observation using “Verbal protocol analysis.”
Verbal protocol analysis (VPA) is a method of bringing out into the open some of the
cognitive processes of designers. Of all the empirical, observational research methods for the
analysis of design activity, VPA is the one that has received the most attention in recent years.
Ericsson and Simon are the original disseminators of the VPA method [19]. The pros and
cons, as well as the techniques for VPA, are described in-depth in their work. In terms of the
validity of the experiment the verbalizations in the VPA indicate the inputs and outputs to the
processes rather than the processes themselves. This is parallel to the research technique for
design by Cross, Christiaans, and Dorst where they discuss the validity of VPA: The purpose
of observation is to see any interaction between the mind and the body [20].
(a) Setup
(b) Task
Figure 2. Setup and task of verbal protocol analysis
The basic strategy of VPA involves getting people who are doing something to verbalize their
thoughts and feelings as they do whatever they are doing. VPA also maps how users describe
themselves as interacting with objects. Both the verbalizing and interaction are rooted in
language and cannot be separated from the respondents’ linguistic use of objects in
communication with others [21]. This is supported by Lakoff and Johnson, also Talmy and
Regier, that the study of spatial-relation concepts within cognitive linguistics has revealed that
there is a relatively small collection of primitive images schemas that structure systems of
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spatial relations in the world’s languages [22]. Their examples, without the full detail given
above: part-whole, center-periphery, link, cycle, iteration, contract, adjacency, forced motion
(e.g., pushing, pulling, propelling), support, balance, straight-curved, and near-far.
In this experiment, the studio setup (a) and task (b) are based on an artificial situation (see
Figure 2). The designer has been provided with the brief of a project. The title of the project is
“Design an Urban Scandinavian PDA (Personal digital assistant) adaptable to the needs of
trades and profession.”
In front of the subject, there are five standard posters [23] as references: (a) Image panel; (b)
Influence panel; (c) Trend studies; (d) Product positioning; and (e) Market analysis.
Sketching is used as means of analyzing design activity (see [24]). This is because research
related to design and thinking regards sketching as a means to stimulate creative thought [25].
We have conducted the experiment based on the synthesis of design activity (see the
experiment by Lloyd, Lawson, and Scott [26]). There are three levels of abstractions that have
been looked upon. The first level is the abstract level, followed by the semi-concrete level,
and finally the concrete level. Abstract is the level when we question the choice and the
orientation of the image elements; Semi-concrete is the level when we need to consider the
type of form in which we format the image elements; and Concrete is the level where we
make decisions that lead to a more detailed picture of the image developed so far. The process
of design itself has different levels of abstraction. However, three levels are commonly in use
and three are sufficient to get fruitful information in an experiment related to the design
process.
During the designing process, from abstract to concrete level, the designer uses verbal
expression as a way of communicating on what he is thinking. To identify relations between
the designer’s verbal expressions and body reactions, we analyzed the VPA, searching
through the episodic data for signs of body use in the generation/discovery of design solutions
(see Table 2). Analyzing the data, episodic intuition elements were discovered. We also
identified examples of body reactions in episodic data, not linked to intuition, but still very
important for the generation/discovery of the design solutions. The reaction of the body seems
to automatically occur when the designer uses metaphor in explaining something visual. We
found that few keywords based on verbal expression give a sign to body reaction. The words
are: I think, then, erm, maybe, going, can be, fix, have, many, attachment, holding, could be,
loose, need, numbers (like ten by fifteen), fold up, open up, I want, sliding, using, yeah,
reminds, I like, but, seems, this idea, more, able, type, and whether.
Table 2. Verbal expression and body reaction
Protocol time
00:01:23
00:02:39
00:03:42
00:07:45
00:09:35
00:11:13
00:12:31
00:13:48
00:15:48
Episode of verbal expression
…somewhere that I think need can be served
existing PDA…
…specific profession and then take it back…
…erm…civil service…
…maybe the regular function of PDA
…we going to have a device…we have main
unit…we have a separate unit that can be
attached…can fix the module idea…this can be
connect everything I think
…we have many interfaces…and many input
device…and the modular attachment
…holding and could be…product screen
…a little bit too loose at the moment
…looking at this here…thinking about a device…fit
270
Sign of body reaction
Eyes look at the poster
Hand move forward and
backward
Shaking the head
Hand twist
Left hand stand still at upright
position
Hand point to the poster
Left hand open
Hand twist
Hands open and close
00:17:40
00:18:14
in the need of a rugged product…durable outer
casing, to reveal the function something inside…I
need the key elements of screen or display and
modular attachments…
…ten by fifteen…maybe…maybe having a device…
…so, I want a device can fold up…open up…and
can also support itself…independence of the user…
00:19:25
…sliding component maybe…
00:19:36
…hand on device thinking…using one…
hand…thinking tall and think versus short and fat…
…yeah…I think what Scandinavia is…less is
more…
…that reminds me the red vessel…
…maybe physical display…laser projection…display
element…
…I like the shape…but I need…but it seems doesn’t
fix the function anyway…something maybe more
aesthetics and more ergonomics I think…
…I think this could be a screw device…maybe
not…I just thinking…I don’t think…
…this idea…I think…
…able to type a data…
00:23:38
00.24:00
00:24:30
00:30:43
00:32:02
00:34:22
00:35:06
00:43:32
…I am thinking whether to have a
screen…rectangle…extends all the way…two key
button like a control function…
together
Hand like holding something
Hand open and close
together and eyes look at the
poster
Hand move forward and
backward
Hand like holding something
Hand move forward and
backward
Hand point to the poster
Hand like holding something
Hand like holding something
Hand like holding something
and finger move
Hand like holding something
Hand like holding something
and another hand like push a
button
Hand like holding something
In the observations at the semi-concrete level, we found that the designer communicates with
the information to define a concept. The designer is thinking and exploring possible design
solutions to expand form variation. At the same time the designer looked at visual images in
front of him to justify the final appearance of product. We found that the concept of a solid
structure under the surface of the product body (also called “a bone line”) defines the gestalt
design of the product (see Table 3). This seems consistent with Monö's description of form as
a part of gestalt, for him gestalt is an arrangement of parts which appear and function as a
whole that is more than the sum of its parts [27].
Table 3. Image interaction design at the semi-concrete level
Episode
Protocol
time
Interaction
00:15:48
Images
Features
Result
Bone
line
Influence
panel
Designer copied the existing
form
271
Sketch the new form profile
Trend
studies
panel
00:19:40
Bone
line with
surface
color
Designer chose the folding
systems referred to trend
Bone
line with
surface
color
Image
panel
00:26:40
Sketch the systems
Designer referred to the image
of existing products
Sketch and expand the form
Based on an in-depth study and detailed observation at the semi-concrete level (see Figure 3),
we discovered that the designer frequently used an empty handed gesture to visualize the
expected form.
Drawing
Hand posture
Figure 3. Designer use empty handed gestures to visualize the expected
form at the semi-concrete level
In order to make the product explicit, at the concrete level, we also discovered that the
designer continued with the use of hand posture activity in order to get a feeling for the
tactility (responsiveness to stimulation of the sense of touch). Looking at the image, when the
designer is drawing, the image is embodied through the movement of the hand to get the size
of the imagery.
The imagery in question is embodied in the gestures that universally and automatically occur
with speech. Speech and gesture occupy the same time slices when they share meanings and
have the same relationships to context. It is a profound error to think of gesture as a code or
“body language,” separate from spoken language.
5. Conclusions
272
Based on the discussions and the empirical study of intuitive form development in design, we
drew one major conclusion. The mind and the body of the designer play a role together in
design. We observed that design is slow at the beginning of the abstract level and energetic at
the semi-concrete level and concrete level with much development and exploration. At the
semi-concrete level and the concrete level it is shown that the designer explores existing
designs based on the posters in front of him by redrawing them. We hypothesize that this
activity develops a stronger embodied understanding of the form. The designer uses his empty
handed gestures to feel and describe form in relation to tactility. We can also hypothesize that
other embodied forms, movements and tactile properties are being called on mentally, but are
not visually apparent in this experiment.
The in-depth studies in this experiment show that the application of hand activity in design
seems important to the designer in order to understand and visualize form related to the image
in the mind. Similarly, in the automotive industry, designers use tape drawing or clay to
balance a form and to adjust the proportion of the design. Based on our finding we assume
that mental images interact with action schema and play a part in designers’ apparently
intuitive form-giving. It is also proven that the designer wants to feel the form of design in
relation to the tactility. In addition to this finding being relevant to the manual process in
design, in our opinion the finding also seems significant to the development of the Computer
Aided Design (CAD) systems and software for the designer. When using CAD it might be
beneficial for the designer to somehow feel the tactility of the form while designing.
This result is in agreement with Lakoff and Johnson’s proposal that metaphorical thinking is
embodied. In order to facilitate this form of thinking the design process should provide real
size modeling with the body. Finally, for further research the results suggest that a closer look
at the theory of embodied mind might be beneficial to understanding some of the apparently
intuitive processes of the designer. This can be explored in further research on the embodied
mind in the application of CAD. We propose that such studies may provide us with ways of
understanding and facilitating intuitive processes in design.
References
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274
Paper 4
Designers’ perceptions of typical characteristics of
form treatment in automobile styling.
Liem, A., Abidin, S.Z., & Warell, A. (2009). Designers’ perceptions of
typical characteristics of form treatment in automobile styling.
Proceedings of Design and Semantics of Form and Movement, 5th
International Workshop on Design & Semantics of Form & Movement
(DeSForM 2009), Taipei, 144-155.
Andre Liem, Shahriman Zainal Abidin, Anders Warell
Andre.Liem @ ntnu.no
Designers’ perceptions of typical
characteristics of form treatment
in automobile styling
Abstract
Keywords
Automobile styling is a complex discipline where the
designers’ recognition is determined by visual elements
of the car and characteristics that establishes the
Automobile Styling, Car Components, Designer
Perceptions, Form Elements, Form Features.
expressive properties of the overall form. The objective
of this study is three-fold. The first objective is to find
1 Introduction
out how recognition is formed by visual elements of the
car. The second objective is to determine what form
characteristics are important for creating expressive
properties of product form. The third objective is to
find out what words are generally used by designers to
describe expressions of car designs, specifically based
on a word list and images of cars. This has led to the
following implications:
1. The identification of general perceptions of car
designers, which are most relevant for automobile
styling.
2. The development of an understanding on how these
perceptions, expressed as adjectives, influences or
can be used as a basis for selecting a range of factors
and characteristics typically used in car design, such
as form features, form elements, and form principles.
3. The exploration of applying selected bi-polar
adjectives as spectra for morphing.
The study has shown that there are valid correlations
between selected designers’ perceptions and form
elements/car components of an automobile. This justifies
the search on how these selected designers’ perceptions
can be used as a foundation for automobile styling.
problem solving and “form follows function”, styling
has been relegated to an unnecessary evil. However,
styling plays a strategic, communicative role in design,
especially for product differentiation when an industry
moves into its mature phase [1, 2].
In the matured automobile market, designers are
challenged by differentiating car models based on
a common platform; the task is usually two fold: at
corporate brand level, the designer needs to continue
and strengthen a specific brand image; and, at the
product brand level, the designer seeks to create novel
and distinct characters for a car model. The brand and
model image can be manipulated by design via the use
of visual elements, which consists of design features to
identify a brand and design features for specific models
to emphasize individuality [3, 4].
Karjalainen’s work [4], noted that explicit visual
references are embedded in the design features
designers implement with the intention to be
immediately perceived and recognized. For example,
Volvo has defined explicit design cues that are used
consistently over their entire product portfolio.
These include the strong ‘shoulder’ line, the V-shaped
144
Design and semantics of form and movement
Because of Modernism’s paradigm about functional
bonnet, the characteristic front with soft nose and
According to Kimura (1997), in the near future, innovation
diagonal Volvo logo, the rear with its distinctively
carved backlight, the flowing line from roof to boot-
may happen through styling based on technological trends,
inevitably changing product development processes.
lid, and the third side window. Previously, Warell [5]
developed qualitative methods to identify and assess
For automobile styling the following very clear trends
of evolution can be identified [12]:
such characteristic elements, which may have syntactic
(a) Total time period required for design has been
or semantic roles in product design.
In daily life, people like to use image words based on
steadily reduced. However, the most important
difference between past and future is not the
the aesthetic features such as ‘beautiful’ and ‘ugly’ [6]
to invoke moods in an object or a product. However,
reduction of time, but the change of the relative
importance of each design process phase. In the
the psychological problem focused on the fact that
image perceptions or mental feelings for a product
past, design detailing and final drawing took a major
portion of the design work, whereas, in future,
are full of fuzziness and uncertainties. Traditionally,
this mental recognition problem with high fuzziness is
usually solved by the designer based on his/her intuitive
planning and concept design will take most of the
time, and especially drawing work can be eliminated
due to the complete shape modeling in detailed
feeling, experience, inspiration from artistic works, and
habit. Later these intuitive feelings were formalized and
structured through Kansei Engineering where consumer
feelings and demands were used to design a new
product [7].
design phase.
(b) The usage of Computer Aided Design (CAD)
systems will be expanded up to the planning phase,
and the total design process will be integrated
by CAD-based digital models. Nowadays, much
Within the field of automobile design, fuzzy set theories
and consumer-oriented Kansei engineering techniques
were applied to analyze the results of consumer surveys
repeated data input is necessary, because each phase
is supported by different CAD systems.
(c) Manufacturing consideration will be initiated from
and determine the relationships between image and
shape-regulating words and car styles [8]. Also, fuzzy
the phase of planning. This activity will be very
effective for reducing the total time required for
set theories in conjunction with weighted mean and
weighted generalized mean methods have been used to
merge multiple beta-spline models of automobiles [9].
A weakness of these techniques is that they can only
produce forms that are a combination of prior forms
i.e., they are interpolative rather than creative [10].
quality of body engineering.
2 Automobile styling based on designers’
perceptions and morphing
According to Tovey, the design of motor cars is
almost always evolutionary, where designs do not
change radically from one model to the next. The
basic elements and components, such as wheels,
seating position, engine, etc. remain the same [11].
This has allowed the industry to structure its design to
manufacturing processes in a very compartmentalized
and sequential way, with a number of specialist inputs
being involved. More particularly than in any other
product area the industrial design activities have
also become highly specialized and focused towards
determining the appearance and identity of the product.
Until quite recently they were generally referred to as
automobile stylists.
According to Edson, automotive designers, in order
to have control of the complex sculptural forms,
imagine shapes in a mental space while they conceive
them [13]. This simulation by visualization of the
imagined real space establishes the field in which the
conceptualization takes place. It can be said that the
mental process goes back and forth in this space, as if
the designer was trying to grasp it mentally as well as
physically. It also appears that the space itself seems
to undergo a distortion, a blur, as if ideas oscillated
through themselves.
In embodying the concept of connecting the relationship
between products and their images, several methods
such as fuzzy theory, multidimensional scaling (MDS)
methods were proposed [14, 15]. Although they can
be used to design a product with a given image, they
cannot yet be used to predict the image of a new shape
generated with original shapes.
Form can be generated by analyzing human responses
to shapes and thereby defining the transformations
between descriptive words and shape. For
Design and semantics of form and movement
145
example, assessment of what a product is (semantic
The key stages of the process are: firstly, to establish
interpretation), may influence judgments on the
elegance of a design (aesthetics impression) and the
the overall semantic character that the product should
communicate; secondly, to list the desired attributes
social values it may connote (symbolic association)
[16]. In a sense, words are the ultimate high-level form
which should be expressed; and thirdly, to search for
tangible manifestations capable of projecting the desired
operators and constitute a common language for all
attributes through the use of shape, material, texture
of the participants of the conceptual design phase:
designers, engineers, marketers and test consumers.
and colour [24]. Not only has knowledge of semantic
principles been shown to improve the clarity of
Unfortunately, the compactness of verbal expression
also leads to ambiguity.
students’ designs [25, 26], but commercially successful
products have also been produced with explicit
3 Automobile Representation
consideration given to their semantic character [27].
For designing a new product, Opperud states that “it
As stated in the previous section, there has been a lack
of discussion related to automobile representation.
No clear explanation concerning intentions emerges
is the designer’s job is to decode the common values
and opinions that exist in a culture, and reproduce
them into forms that embody the appropriate symbolic
from literature studies. However aesthetics, semantic
and symbolic aspects as well as the uses of sketches as
means of representation are important to be defined.
According to Crilly [16], designers’ tacit understanding
of perception and visual composition often guide
meaning [28].”
Once the form is defined, curves characterizing and
structuring the car embodiment are considered most
important. In the profile view, these curves are for
example the roof line; the waist (or belt) line and the
their intuitive judgements [17, 18]. In car design, the
designers use their skills, training and experience to
design automobiles that induce a positive aesthetic
front and rear panel overhangs. By definition, the waist
line is the curve dividing the side windows and the body
side, while the overhang is the distance between the
impression. Indeed, there are those who feel and
perceive that intuitive creativity is all that is required for
front/rear part of the car and the centre of the wheel.
In practice, rather than the waist line, a curve (the
the production of visually attractive products contrary
to a scientific approach, which is not relevant for
understanding the problem. This view may be reinforced
by the discovery that very few of the scientific studies
have led to generalisations which are useful for students
accent line) just below is considered for the character
evaluation. Actually, the accent line may be a light line;
a curve only perceived when light is reflected. In fact, it
is a common habit for stylists to work with all of these
characters.
or practitioners of design [19]. However, designers and
consumers often interpret products differently and
4 Research Objective
express different aesthetics preferences [20]. Thus,
although styling is the ‘artistic’ part of product design,
it must still be directed towards opportunities and held
within constraints [21]. As such, Coates suggests that
correlating consumer perceptions with product features
may align product designs better with consumers’
aesthetic preferences [22].
In the automobile industry, a semantic approach to
design emphasises on the opportunity for consumers
to interpret a product’s utility and associated qualities.
Krippendorff [23] thus proposes that “design is making
sense (of things)” and that designers should facilitate
the user in correctly interpreting the product. To assist
designers in this mission, Butter [24] has suggested
a sequence of activities that integrate semantic
considerations into the design process.
146
Design and semantics of form and movement
The purpose of this research is to study the designers’
perceptions of characteristics of form treatment in
automobile styling. Research objectives are three-fold:
1. To find out how recognition is formed by visual
elements of the car.
2. To determine what form characteristics are
important for creating expressive properties
of product form.
3. To find out what words are generally used by
designers to describe expressions of car designs,
specifically based on a word list and images of cars.
5 Research Method
According to Patton [29] the purpose, use, credibility
and available resources also dictated the size of sample.
Representatives rather than scale were primary
Front view
Side view
Rear view
3 quarter front view
3 quarter rear view
Figure 1. Five Views of a Sedan Car: Proton Waja
concerns as indicated by Oppenheim [30] and Erdos
[31]. The structure of questionnaire depends on
different aspects such as purpose, respondent group
[31]. In this research a survey questionnaire was
used to better understand designers’ perceptions of
characteristics of form design in automobile styling.
Type of respondents and survey questions will be
further elaborated in this chapter.
Table 1. Level of design experience and number of occupation
among the respondents
5.1 Type of Respondents
In this study, 46 practicing vehicle designers, vehicle
design students and educators participated by responding
to a survey questionnaire. A majority of the practicing
designers were from Malaysian vehicle manufacturers,
5.2 Survey Method
A standard questionnaire of nine questions were
presented and grouped into 3 sections, each section
such as Proton, Perodua, NAZA Automotive
Manufacturing, Modenas, Proreka (M) Sdn. Bhd., and
Norwegian company Inocean AS. Students and educators
comprising of 3 questions. The questionnaire employed
a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions,
including categorical multi choice questions, open ended
were from United Kingdom (Coventry University, Royal
college of Art), Sweden (Umeå University), Norway
questions and a combination of these, as well as Visual
Analogue Scales (VAS). If required, respondents were
(Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and
Malaysia (Universiti Teknologi MARA).
Several studies have classified respondents based on
their expertise. For example Popovic has categorized
expertise of design students engaged in a five
guided through the questionnaire by the interviewer,
who clarified the meaning if any uncertainties occurred.
The first section aims to study the common
characteristics of a car [35]. Because of practical and
popular reasons, the image of a Malaysian Sedan car
year program according to three levels: Novice,
Intermediate and Expert [33]. Bouchard considered
experts professionals currently working in the branch,
intermediate experts the students having acquired
a concrete skill in car styling by the participation in
several industrial projects, and the novice students
those who have not yet acquired concrete experience in
the field [34]. In this study, respondents were classified
in four categories according to their level of experience
and occupation (Table 1):
a. Novice: student, educator or practitioner with less
than 5 years working experience in industry.
b. Intermediate: educator or practitioner with 5 to 10
years working experience in industry.
c. Senior: educator or practitioner 8/10 to 15/18 years
working experience in industry.
d. Expert: educator or practitioner with more than 18
years working experience in industry.
model of Proton Waja has been selected. According
to the Automobile Magazine (2009, April 27), Sedan
reviews, sedan cars are still the majority worldwide [36].
In the first question, respondents were asked to indicate
which view they consider as most important for car
recognition (see Figure 1). In the second question
respondents were asked to indicate, according to
Figures 2A and 2B, which components were considered
to be essential in determining the recognition of a car.
With reference to question three, it has been found that
many researchers studying form totality, whether artbased or science-based, have adopted the properties of
Point, Line, Plane or surface and Volume as basic form
elements [6, 37, 38]. Respondents were encouraged to
rate the importance of each form element according
to its ability to convey a certain perception. In order
Design and semantics of form and movement
147
Figure 2A. Selected Car Components on 3 quarter front
Figure 2B. Selected Car Components on 3 quarter rear
view. Note: (1) Front bumper; (2) Front plate number; (3)
view: Note: (13) Tail lamp; (14) Trunk lid; (15) Rear emblem;
Emblem; (4) Hood panel; (5) Windscreen; (6) Head lamp;
(16) 3rd brake light; (17) C-pillar; (18) B-pillar; (19) Rear
(7) Air intake; (8) Radiator grill; (9) Fog lamp; (10) Fender;
bumper; (20) Exhaust; (21) Rear plate number; (22) Body
(11) Side mirror; (12) A-pillar.
trim; (23) Side signal; and (24) Wheel.
to make the respondents understand the terminology,
a geometrical explanation for each form element was
provided.
correlation tests based on bi-variate statistics were
conducted to evaluate the relationship among the five
views, among selected car components, between form
In section 2 of the questionnaire, emphasis was placed
on how features, as a tool to verbalize the perception of
a car, are used in the understanding of form principles
and form elements. In question six, a Semantic
Differential Style has been used. We explored the
elements and perceptions based on pre-selected car
models, between form features and bi-polar adjectives,
between car components and form features, and
between car components and bi-polar adjectives (Table
2). In order to test the reliability of this questionnaire,
words based on adjectives. In addition, the words are
not necessarily ‘contradictive’ in meaning. The questions
supporting this section were formulated as follows:
the reliability statistics model of Cronbach’s Alpha
have been used [39]. Cronbach’s Alpha is a reliability
coefficient that indicates how well the internal
Question 4: How do you rate the following principles of
consistencies of items in a set are positively correlated
to one another. It shows that the analysis results for this
form in association to the perception of a car, according
to a five point scale (not important – extremely
important)?
Question 5: How do you rate expressive value of
specific form features in design, supported by form
elements, such as curve, line, and surface?
Question 6: To what extent do you disagree or agree
that the following bi-polar adjectives can be used in the
design of the car and its form elements?
In section 3, Question 7 respondents were asked to
indicate a perception when presented with the front,
side and rear view of 36 images of different types of
cars, sub-divided into 12 front view, 12 side view and 12
rear view images. The cars were heuristically selected
by the researchers.
6 Data Analysis
Data was statistically analyzed directly as well as
indirectly using a Statistical Package for the Social
Sciences (SPSS) version 15 for Windows. Frequency
distribution tests were conducted for the direct analysis
of each individual question. In addition Chi-Square tests
were run for section 3. For the indirect analysis, mainly
148
Design and semantics of form and movement
questionnaire are high at 0.862.
Table 2. Statistical Test conducted for this research
6.1 Findings
The first section shows that 63% of the respondents
consider the three quarter front view as providing
the strongest recognition of a car (i.e., brand, type
of car, category, properties, country of origin, or
other characteristics). However out of the selected
24 components for the car, five components were
considered essential in determining the car recognition.
These components are Front emblem (50%), Head lamp
(80%), Radiator grill (80%), Tail lamp (89%), and Rear
bumper (58%).
Table 3. Frequency distribution of importance ratings of Form
Elements
Table 5. Percentage of Selected Form Features rated by
designers
When considering the ability of each form element
to convey a certain perceptions. It shows that all
form elements were rated between “important” to
To assess the expressive value of “form features”,
twenty eight form descriptive terms were selected and
“extremely important” (see Table 3). However the
relative percentage of frequency distributions indicate
that Line (97.8%) and Volume (97.9%) followed by Plane/
surface (95.7%) are most important in determining the
perceptions of a car.
adopted from Saunders [41]. Of course, the types of
form features which are more frequently or consistently
used depends on the type of design format/style (given
by brand identity, expression, form language, etc)
employed in a particular car design. The ratings given
Many automotive designers use form elements and the
manipulation of principles of form when developing
and communicating the main form of the vehicle or its
only provide an understanding of perceptions of car
designers regarding general (across typical car designs
on the market) or possibly individual (given by the style
components [40, 5].
of each designer) tendencies for the use of certain
form features in car design. All form features were
considered “important” to “extremely important” (see
Table 5). However a selected number of form features
show a high cumulative percentage and above 10%
score on “extremely important.” It seems that the form
feature “accelerate” is highly rated compared to the
Table 4. Percentage of Principles of Form rated by designers
In section 2, it was found that the use of form
elements needs to be added with the understanding
of the principles of form. Based on a rating between
“important” to “extremely important” (see Table 4),
a percentage of frequency distributions indicate that
balance, directional forces, and scale and proportion
are the most important principles of form of a car. This
finding is important as it provides evidence to principles
that car designers colloquially mention as essential. It is
also interesting to note that all principles rate very high
in accumulated score; however it is not unexpected,
because all form principles used by designers would
probably be rated as at least “important,” or other wise
they would not be used by designers.
others, as it denotes a behavior of compositions of form
features, rather than being a form features itself.
To find out whether bi-polar adjectives can be used in
the design of the car and its form elements, forty eight
of them were heuristically selected or derived from
other sources such as Semantic Differential [42, 43].
The findings indicate that 38 bi-polar adjectives are
commonly being used by car designers when expressing
their feeling about the car. Out of these 38, the
following 15 bi-polar adjectives with accumulative score
above 80% or above 30% score for “strongly agree” are
being favored (see Table 6). It is interesting to note that
dynamic – static, feminine – masculine, and aggressive –
submissive are the strongest rating bi-polar adjectives,
which seem to correspond to common perceptions of
modern cars. The designers’ response to this question
may be interpreted as indicating that a continuum of
perceptions of form characteristics, as described by the
Design and semantics of form and movement
149
extreme bi-polar endpoints given by the adjectives, are
To verify whether the 3 quarter front view is the
commonly used in car design.
Three bi-polar adjectives were considered neutral
only significant view for the recognition of a car, a
correlation was conducted among all views. Based on a
among the respondents. They are charming – displeasing,
cheerful – sad, and intelligent – stupid.
negative 2-tailed correlation (Pearson -0.419(**)) it can
be specifically noted that there is no relationship at all
However, the following adjectives have been rejected by
between the three quarter front view and front view in
the respondents: cheeky – backward, contempt – not
contempt, disgusted – not disgusted, gorgeous – plain,
determining the recognition of a car, which means the
designer did not reflect or respond on that view. We
happy – unhappy, pleasant – annoyed, sleepy – alert, stupid
– smart, truthful – exaggerated and worried – assured.
have assumed that the recognition would refer to one
brand (recognition as an identity mode is based on the
iconic sign, i.e. recognition through similarity/likeness to
something seen before), while the other view would to
some other brand, or not to any brand at all. It may also
refer to identification of (other) characteristics of cars.
It seems reasonable to assume that recognition of type
(of product), i.e. categorization in terms of e.g. type of
car such as sedan, family, or micro car, would not be
dependent on the view, as car designers are familiar
with design characteristics for different types of cars.
Table 6. Percentage of Set of Bi-polar Adjectives for car
perceptions rated between “strongly agree” to “agree”
With regard to section 3, where adjectives,
representing designer perceptions, were correlated to
specific car models and their respective images from the
front, side and rear view, it can be concluded that all 36
images evoke certain perceptions. For all three views
a high standard deviation and broad range between
minimum and maximum is noticed, which means that
the perceptions of each designer are highly variable.
In order to study the perception of individual designer
with an image of the car, we have made an open-end
question with provided images of the car randomly.
Since the answers by the designers’ are varied, the best
test for the analysis is using the Chi-square test, the
test uses to analyze abnormal data based on individual
interpretations or non-consistencies of individual
answer. The verbs expressed by the respondents were
analyzed using descriptive statistics based on percentage
of frequency distributions and bi-variate statistics based
on Chi-Square test for goodness of fit (non-parametric
techniques). An example of the test results is shown
in Table 7.
150
Design and semantics of form and movement
Table 7. Example of test results where images of cars in front,
side and rear view are assessed on their expressive qualities.
The study revealed that “front emblem”, “head lamp”,
“radiator grill”, “tail lamp”, and “rear bumper” are
significant components for determining the recognition
of a car. A positive 2 tailed correlation test shows
confidence, cheerful, and futuristic, whereas the same
that head lamp, radiator grill and tail lamp have strong
relationships in jointly determining the recognition of
car and Plane or Surface indicate a positive 2-tailed
correlation (Pearson 0.312(*)) based on the perceptions
a car (see Table 8). It should be noted that this result
might reflect the general opinion of designers regarding
of aggressive, confidence, cheerful, and futuristic. Aston
Martin DB9 and Line are positive 2-tailed correlated
which components are typically important for (brand)
(Pearson 0.361(*)) based the perceptions of aggressive,
recognition. However, it is easy to imagine car design
where other form features, such as bone lines or
confidence, elegant, speed; whereas Ford Cougar and
Line show a positive 2-tailed correlation (Pearson
characteristic curves, may be used to create the same
references to brand characteristics.
0.405(*)) based on the perceptions of aggressive,
dynamic, happy, odd, and ordinary.
The correlation test between the form elements and
the perceptions of the car based on specifically provided
Reference to the side view (see Table 10), Lotus Elise
images has led to the following findings. Reference
to the front view (see Table 9), Chevrolet Camaro
and Line are positive 2-tailed correlation (Pearson
and Line are positive 2-tailed correlated (Pearson
0.460(**)) based on the perceptions of dynamic, sporty,
fast, and streamlined; Jaguar XK Coupe and Line are
0.524(**)) based on the perceptions of aggressive,
positive 2-tailed correlated (Pearson 0.405(**)) based
on the perceptions of sleek, aerodynamic, classy,
contemporary, streamlined. Toyota Yaris and Line
are positive 2-tailed correlated (Pearson 0.398(*))
based on the perceptions of cute, cheeky, compact,
contemporary, smart. This means that “Lotus Elise and
Line,” “Jaguar XK coupe and Line,” and “Toyota Yaris”
show strong relationships between the form elements
and perceptions based on specific car models.
Table 8. Correlations among Significant Components
A negative 2-tailed correlation has been found between
Jaguar S-type and Point based on the perceptions
of elegant, exclusive, formal, traditional; between
Mercedes E-class Wagon and Volume based on the
perceptions of elegant, bulky, exclusive, family, and
long; between BMW 1 Series and Volume, and between
Smart Fortwo and Point based on the perceptions of
dynamic, aerodynamic, and smart. This means that
“Jaguar S-type and Point,” “Mercedes E-class Wagon
and Volume,” “BMW 1 Series and Volume,” and “Smart
Fortwo and Point” show no relationships between the
form elements and perceptions based on specific car
models.
Table 9. Correlations between the Form Elements and the
Expressions of Car Front View
For the Rear view (see Table 11), only a positive
2-tailed correlation (Pearson 0.327(*)) can be found
between Lotus Elise and Line based on the perceptions
of dynamic, sporty, fast, and streamlined, indicating a
strong relationship between the form elements and
perceptions. This means that reference to the front,
side and rear views strong relationships can be found
between certain form elements and car perceptions
based on selected car images.
Design and semantics of form and movement
151
When analyzing the relationship between 28 form
features and all 48 bi-polar adjectives, a positive
2-tailed correlation can be found between 11 bi-polar
adjectives and 17 form features. The pairing between
the respective bi-polar adjectives and form features is
shown in Table 12.
Correlation tests were conducted between all 24 car
components and 28 form features (see Table 13). A
positive 2 tailed correlation is found for “Rear bumper
and Blister” and “Head lamp and Radius”, indicating
strong relationships between these components and
form features. A negative 2 tailed correlation is found
for “Front emblem and Coke-bottle/wasp-waist”,
“Front emblem and Cut-line”, “Tail lamp and hollow”,
and “Front emblem and Taut”, indicating that there is no
relationship at all between these form features and car
components.
Chen et al. have applied Conceptmorph and Conjoint
Analysis to explore a large number of shapes by
modifying the entire car or its components on spectra
of bi-polar adjectives [44]. However, components and
Table 10. Correlations between the Form Elements and the Expressions of Car Side View
bi-polar adjectives were randomly selected. In this
study, an attempt to correlate 24 car components
with the 48 bi-polar adjectives has only a surfaced a
positive 2 tailed correlation between “Front emblem
and Intelligent-stupid” (Pearson 0.306(*)). However,
“Intelligent-stupid” is not part of the list of popular bipolar adjectives.
Table 11. Correlations between the Form Elements and the Expressions of Car Rear View
7 Discussion
It is a common practice in car design as well as other
product categories to “borrow” characteristic features
from already existing products, in order to emphasize
design heritage, product and brand identity, and
recognition, thus providing a visually characteristic form
and a consistent design format [5]. These tendencies
has evoked the interest of the researchers to conduct a
more fundamental study on how designer perceptions
can be used as a basis for automobile styling by
correlating selected adjectives with form elements and
car components.
According to Tovey, Porter, and Newman who
undertook an analysis of the content of a number of
automotive sketches with the intention of categorizing
the visual components, and determining which are
the most important in communicating 3D form,
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Design and semantics of form and movement
Table 12. Positive Correlations between Form Features and Bi-polar Adjectives
forces, and scale and proportion are being considered as
the most important form principles of a car.
According to Table 6, 15 out of the 38 sets of bi-polar
adjectives presented to designers were considered
to be expressed in car design. However, alternative
expressions, such as bi-polar scales, that describe
designers’ perceptions of cars need to be further
investigated. Furthermore, the use of word pairs
does not tell us anything specific about what types of
perceptions designers actually have, or whether they
perceive the word pairs used as being opposites.
However, we found that there are two styles of
structured questionnaires where words pairs (bi-polar
Table 13. Correlations between Car Components and Form Features
adjectives) are employed on a Semantic Differential
scale. The first style is a direct contradiction of word
pairs. This contradiction means that the word selected
has an “explicit” representation of the meaning like
components, such as headlamps, tires, mirror, etc. are
essential in giving meaning and identity to the overall
“beautiful” versus “ugly”. For example, Hsiao and
Liu uses the image of a specific product by adjectival
images words like traditional-modern, complex-simple,
design [45].
In this study, Front emblem, Head lamp, Radiator
grill, Tail lamp, and Rear bumper have been found
to be significant components for determining the
cheap-expensive, cold-warm, soft-hard, etc [48]. The
second style is an indirect contradiction of word pairs.
This contradiction means that the word selected
has an “implicit” representation of the meaning such
recognition of a car, both as an individual component
and coherently.
Tovey and Porter described that “emotional
as “beautiful” versus “not beautiful”. For example,
Ishihara, Ishihara and Nagamachi uses the list of
adjectives randomly like pretty-not pretty, intellectual-
characteristics” such as friendly and aggressive, are most
easily described by the ‘face’ or front view of the vehicle
[46]. However, in this study it is found that the threequarter front view provides the strongest recognition of
a car. We believe our comparison is possible to make, as
Tovey discusses emotional response and a tendency for
the creation of such perceptions in the front view of the
car, while we discuss recognition (which we interpret
as identification of brand), which is a characteristically
different experiential aspect [47].
In terms of form elements, the relative percentage of
total frequency distributions indicates that Volume and
Line, followed by Plane/Surface are considered most
important in determining the perception of a car. With
respect to the rating of these elements as “extremely
important”, the frequency distributions of Line (54.3%)
and Volume (52.2%) followed by Plane or Surface
(32.6%) are not unexpected. Because points are used
only to a limited extent as an explicit design element in
car design, it is as expected considered less essential
(6.5% “extremely important”). Balance, directional
not intellectual, elegant-not elegant, derived form
from sources such as magazines, mail-order catalogs,
recordings of conversation, etc [49].
A clear relationship can be found between a wide
range of bi-polar adjectives and form features. As
form features represent certain form elements, such
as lines, surfaces and shapes, these may be developed
according related bi-polar adjectives. Complementary,
with reference to the front, side and rear views, strong
relationships can be found between certain form
elements and car perceptions based on selected car
images. Popular perceptions, with reference to the front
view, are aggressive, confidence, cheerful, futuristic,
elegant, speed, dynamic, happy, odd, and ordinary.
Popular perceptions based on the side view are
dynamic, sporty, fast, streamlined, aerodynamic, sleek,
classy, contemporary, cute, cheeky, compact, and smart.
Frequent perceptions for the car rear view are dynamic,
sporty, fast, and streamlined. A comparison across the
three views shows that the adjectives aggressive, cute,
and dynamic are important.
Design and semantics of form and movement
153
8 Conclusion and Further Research
This study has shown that there are valid correlations
between selected designers’ perceptions and form
elements/car components of an automobile. This
justifies the search on how these selected designers’
perceptions can be used as a foundation for automobile
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grammar based approach for product design. Design Studies,
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This research was financially supported by the Ministry
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Paper 5
Understanding styling activity of automotive
designers: A study of manual interpolative morphing
through freehand sketching.
Abidin, S.Z., Warell, A., & Liem, A. (2011). Understanding styling activity
of automotive designers: A study of manual interpolative morphing
through freehand sketching. Proceedings of ICED 11, 18th International
Conference on Engineering Design, Copenhagen, DS68-9, 357-366.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENGINEERING DESIGN, ICED11
15 - 18 AUGUST 2011, TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF DENMARK
UNDERSTANDING STYLING ACTIVITY OF
AUTOMOTIVE DESIGNERS: A STUDY OF MANUAL
INTERPOLATIVE MORPHING THROUGH FREEHAND
SKETCHING
Shahriman Zainal Abidin1,3, Anders Warell2 and Andre Liem3
(1) Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia (2) Lund University, Sweden (3) Norwegian
University of Science and Technology, Norway
ABSTRACT
Automated morphing techniques have been proposed as a design support tool to generate novel shapes
which lie between two or more polar reference images. The purpose of these techniques, employed in
automated morphing systems (AMS), is to assist designers and design teams in the task of generating
new shapes and finding novel form concepts. However, the usefulness of such systems for design
practice may be questioned, as they significantly differ from designers’ sketching processes during
morphing. In this paper, we investigate the sketching processes of automotive designers in order to
understand their processes of manual interpolative morphing employing freehand sketching. The
objective was to understand and describe the result of their morphing processes, and relate the findings
to the output of typical AMS, in order to evaluate the usefulness of AMS for design purposes. The aim
was to understand how designers morph elements of product form, what types of elements are
morphed, and how these elements are transformed through morphing. Results suggest that there are
profound differences between manual and automated morphing. Specifically, these relate to
selectivity, consistency, and completeness of morphing operations. While designers choose and
transform shape based on subjective and purposeful intent, AMS lack these characteristics. These
differences influence the outcome of morphing processes to a fundamental degree. Designers and
design teams will be supported by these findings when considering the employment of AMS in design
work. The research describes the characteristics and clarifies the potential contribution of AMS in
styling activities, thus assisting the evaluation of AMS in relation to traditional, manual sketching
approaches.
Keywords: automotive design, form composition, morphing techniques, perception, styling process
1 INTRODUCTION
Designers widely employ manual sketching as a tool to explore and understand new ideas and
concepts for form and function in product design [1]. During sketching, the design idea is represented
in the translation of the idea from abstract to concrete. According to Tovey, Porter and Newman [1],
the actual process of creating design idea is usually envisaged as going on in the mind’s eye and
drawings as attempts to reproduce the designer’s mental images.
Schön and Wiggins [2] have investigated kinds of seeing and their relationship with the design
activity. They regard designing as a conversation with materials conducted in the medium of drawing,
and crucially dependent on seeing. It is characterized as a reflective conversation with materials whose
basic structure-seeing-moving-seeing- is an interaction of designing and discovery. Designers draw on
paper, observing the evolving product of their work, employing different kinds of seeing (visual
apprehensions, literal seeing), and, as this is done, discoveries are made. Features and relations are
identified which cumulatively generate a fuller understanding, or ‘feel for’ the configuration with
which designer’s is working. They conclude that this involves giving attention to a process that
computers are presently unable to produce.
Two types of sketching that often occur in the design process are the free, exploratory search for new
design ideas, and the more focused refinement of an overall theme once a main motif is established.
As noted by Akner-Koler, a divergent approach, searching for more types of solutions, is generally
employed early in design processes, while a narrower but deeper exploration of variance is used once
ICED11
357
a theme has been selected [3]. These two purposes of sketching may be compared to Goel’s [4]
categorization of sketching relating to, respectively, lateral transformation, where more divergence is
introduced, and vertical transformation, where more convergence is introduced. Goel argues that the
characteristics of the design process stem from the ill-defined nature of design problems in contrast to
the well-defined problems. Secondly, he argues that sketching constitutes a particular of symbol
system, which is characterized by syntactic and semantic denseness and by ambiguity, and it is the
aspects of sketching which allow lateral transformation to occur. In his analysis, transformation may
be either lateral or vertical, while reinterpretations occur when the meaning associated with a drawing
in one episode is subsequently changed. Goel concludes that sketching is associated with preliminary
design because it is a symbol system that is dense and ambiguous and consequently facilitates the
lateral transformations that are an essential aspect of this phase of the design process. These divergent
and convergent approaches of sketching play an important role in designers’ processes of exploring
the possible solution space in design work. According to Goel [4], the inherent characteristics of
designers’ processes of thinking and sketching – being vague, fluid, ambiguous, and amorphous – thus
render them beyond the capacity of currently computational systems.
Automated morphing systems (AMS) generate form variation based on metamorphosis of form
structures. It is a quantified structure strategy and it can be based on the variation of arrangement –
number and dimension [5]. AMS may be categorized into two types; digital image warping
techniques, and design interpolation. Digital image warping techniques employ geometrical
transformation of digital images [6]. A geometrical transformation is an operation that redefines the
spatial relationship between points in an image. A warp may range from something as simple as
translation, scale, or rotation, to something as elaborate as a convoluted transformation [6].
Several approaches have been used for geometric transformation through interpolation (see e.g., [7, 8,
9]). These employ a number of algorithms which have been developed for image morphing (see [6]),
such as, e.g., linear and polynomial interpolation, and cubic splines with natural or periodic
boundaries. Wolberg [10] presents three approaches work on morphing algorithms before the
development of morphing, 1) Cross-dissolve; 2) Mesh warphing; and 3) Multilevel free-form
deformation (MFFD) based morphing. An example of MFFD-based morphing is given in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Multilevel free-form deformation based morphing (Source: Wolberg [6])
A pioneering work along the direction of design interpolation is the research on shape averaging [11].
Shape averaging produces a series of novel shapes between two polar base shapes. It is hypothesized
that the average results are useful for predicting trends in form, or for extracting stereotypes from a
group of related shapes. The technique can be used to create new forms by blending general features
of existing unrelated shapes. The algorithms of shape averaging enable the extraction of mean, median
and mode forms from the average shape (see [11]). Figure 2 shows the blending results between car
shape and teardrop shape at different weighted averaging ratios.
Figure 2. Weighted averaging shapes from a car and the teardrop shape under rations of (a) 70/30, (b)
50/50, and (c) 30/70 (Source: Chen and Parent [11])
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Designers approach to form generation is, thus, principally radically different to that of AMS. Instead
of generating shapes through continuous shape merging, designers construct shape through the
establishment of primary elements, which are modified and developed through iteration. In this
process, the form structure, also known as gestalt, of the artifact is constructed. A product gestalt is the
arrangement of parts which constitute and function as a whole product, but which is more than the sum
of its parts [12]. In a product gestalt, the compositional structure may be seen as consisting of form
elements on various hierarchical form structure levels, which are visually interrelated in a complex
manner within and between levels (Warell [13]). Warell [13] suggests an analysis technique based on
visual decomposition of these structural levels (superior, intermediate, and detail levels), which
facilitates the definition of purpose, type, and visual function of form elements in a product gestalt.
Critically, each element may thus be recognized, articulated and understood, in terms of how it
contributes to the overall gestalt. Thus, the syntactic and semantic contribution of specific form
elements may be articulated.
2 RESEARCH OBJECTIVE
Although much research has been devoted to understanding designers’ sketching process (e.g., [1,
14]), no studies have been found which try to describe or understand how human designers morph
between two or more polar base images using sketching (or other media or tools). Furthermore,
recognition of the inability of computational systems to replicate the vagueness and ambiguity of the
human sketching process (e.g., [2, 4]) has contributed to the formulation of the objective of this
research: to investigate the characteristics of morphing processes of designers in actual sketching
assignments in relation to morphing processes of typical AMS. The aim is to evaluate the usefulness
of AMS in relation to manual sketching approaches.
The overall research question of how manual morphing through sketching is different from approaches
using automated morphing systems (AMS) thus guided the investigation. Based on findings reported
from previous research, three sub questions were developed, according to the following:
RQ1. The ambiguous characteristics of designers’ sketching processes will lead to a natural variety in
output. We refer to this phenomenon as “consistency”. Thus, how do designers assess their own
morphing assignments with respect to intended achievement?
RQ2. Designers choose what elements to morph rather than transforming uniformly. We refer to this
phenomenon as “selectivity”. Thus, we are interested in understanding what types of elements
designers morph. What are the characteristics of these elements?
RQ3. Designers may morph only to a partial degree (“completeness”). How, then, are elements
morphed by designers with respect to completeness?
3 METHOD
In this research, we explore the operations of form transformations employed by designers during
image morphing processes using freehand sketching. We also study the characteristics of these
morphing sketches in order to determine how freehand sketches differ from morphing sequences
generated by automated systems. Thus, in this work, the use of the bipolar morphing technique is an
experimental means to elicit, identify and categorize the types of operations employed by designers
during form development. The investigation was based on two studies:
In Study 1, a total of 43 selected automotive designers in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, and
Malaysia completed a morphing assignment, which they were subsequently asked to assess in terms of
their own morphing performance. Each designer was given the task of performing morphing
sequences for five views (front, side, rear, three-quarter front, and three-quarter rear), using manual
freehand sketching. In each morphing sequence, designers were asked to produce three sketches,
representing the stages of 25%, 50% and 75% transformation, respectively, from the left to the right
polar image, thus gradually morphing the left image to the right image in three consecutive steps. Each
polar image consisted of a grayscale photograph of a production car currently available on the world
market. Subsequently, each designer was given the task to assess their own morphing performance in
relation to the assigned task of 25%, 50% and 75% partial morphing target achievement. In the
assessment, they were asked to provide a percentage number for each of the sketches in each
morphing sequence. For example, a designer who assessed their 25%-target sketch to actually be
somewhere between the 25% and 50% target, may have stated 35% for the 25%-target sketch.
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Study 2 consisted of three analysis parts. In parts 1 and 2, morphing sequences produced by the
designers in Study 1 were analysed by a total of 10 respondents; all final year, master level product
design students. Two chosen view sets (front view and three-quarter front view), each represented by
five separate morphing sequences of three sketches each, by five different designers, were selected by
the authors based on a heuristic quality review. Each respondent was given the task to analyze the
selected sets of morphing sequences with respect to similarities and inconsistencies between the
sketches and polar images of each respective morphing sequence. In part 1, respondents were asked to
assess the front view set, consisting of five front view morphing sequence sketches, with respect to
similarities and inconsistencies. In part 2, respondents were asked to assess the three-quarter front
view set, consisting of five three-quarter front view morphing sequence sketches, with respect to
similarities and inconsistencies. Polar images of the chosen morphing sequences for each part of Study
2 are illustrated in Figure 3. In each part, respondents indicated similarities and inconsistencies using
coloured pencils on morphing sequence sketches, printed on A3 paper sheets. Finally, in part 3, the
material produced in parts 1 and 2 was heuristically analysed by the authors with respect to form
structure levels, according to Warell [13].
Part 1 (Front view):
Left polar image
(VW New Beetle)
Right polar image
(BMW 3 Series)
Left polar image
(Fiat 500)
Right polar image
(Acura RL)
Part 2 (Three-quarter front view):
Figure 3. Polar images used in part 1 and part 2, respectively, of Study 2 (brand and model identifiers
were not provided to respondents)
4 FINDINGS
Results from Study 1 show that designers frequently assess their own sketches as being outside the
target of the assigned task of 25%, 50% and 75% partial image morphing. As an illustration, Figure 4
presents an analysis of the subjective assessments from 19 of the 43 designers, indicating the range of
assessments of sketches for each target transformation for the three-quarter front view. The analysis
suggests that the range of assessments for the 25% morphing stage varies between 15% and 30%. For
the 50% and 75% morphing stages, the variation is between 40% and 65%, and between 70% and
85%, respectively.
Results from Study 2, part 1, are illustrated in Figures 5 and 6. In Figure 5, inconsistencies as indicated
by respondents in the set of five morphing sequences, when compared to the left and right polar base
images, are illustrated. Red lines indicate inconsistencies in relation to the right base image, while blue
lines indicate inconsistencies in relation to the left base image. For all Figures, numerals denote the
number of inconsistencies reported for each element as indicated by respondents.
In Figure 6, similarities as indicated by respondents in the set of five morphing sequences, when
compared to the left and right polar base images, are illustrated. Red lines indicate similarities in
relation to the right base image, while blue lines indicate similarities in relation to the left base image.
Similarly, results from Study 2, part 2, are illustrated in Figures 7 and 8. In Figure 7, respondents have
indicated inconsistencies of the set of five morphing sequences as compared to the left and right polar
base images. Red lines indicate inconsistencies in relation to the right base image, while blue lines
indicate inconsistencies in relation to the left base image.
Finally, in Figure 8, respondents have indicated similarities of the set of five morphing sequences as
compared to the left and right polar base images. Red lines indicate similarities in relation to the right
base image, while blue lines indicate similarities in relation to the left base image.
In part 3, inconsistencies and similarities as indicated by respondents in parts 1 and 2 of Study 2 were
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Figure 4. Compilation of designers’ assessments of their own morphing achievements for the threequarter front view, in relation to the morphing target. Average range denotes the lowest and highest
assessment of designers’ sketches for each morphing target
analysed with respect to form structure levels [13], based on a heuristic evaluation of all indicated
elements. In the analysis, form elements indicated by respondents were decomposed and categorized
according to three structural levels; Level 1 (superior level), Level 2 (intermediate level), and Level 3
(detail level). Figures 9 and 10 illustrate the analysis of form structure levels for the front view set and
the three-quarter front view set, respectively.
5 DISCUSSION
In this research, we explored how designers morph between a set of two bipolar images using
interpolative freehand sketching. The sketching occurring during interpolative morphing requires the
designer to create a continuum of visualizations that differ mainly at the lower form structure levels.
This is similar to the transformation occurring during vertical type of sketching, when the designer
refines ideas on a detailed level with respect to meaning and content. This vertical sketching occurs,
for example, during the stage when the designer moves from the overall to the more detailed stages in
automotive concept sketching, and explores variants within a given theme [1, 15].
This research focuses on the characteristics of designers’ morphing processes in relation to those of
automated morphing systems (AMS). The proposed research questions investigated the morphing
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Figure 5. Inconsistencies between polar base images and front view set of five selected morphing
sequences as indicated by respondents (Study 2, Part 1). Numerals denote the number of
inconsistencies reported for each element as indicated by respondents.
Figure 6. Similarities between polar base images and front view set of five selected morphing
sequences as indicated by respondents (Study 2, Part 1). Numerals denote the number of
inconsistencies reported for each element as indicated by respondents.
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Figure 7. Inconsistencies between polar base images and three-quarter front view set of five selected
morphing sequences as indicated by respondents (Study 2, Part 2). Numerals denote the number of
inconsistencies reported for each element as indicated by respondents.
Figure 8. Similarities between polar base images and three-quarter front view set of five selected
morphing sequences as indicated by respondents (Study 2, Part 2). Numerals denote the number of
inconsistencies reported for each element as indicated by respondents.
process with respect to three characteristics. The first is consistency, describing the variety of output
of a morphing sequence, given the same input. Secondly, selectivity, describing the uniform
transformation of elements during a morphing sequence. And, thirdly, completeness, denoting the
extent to which elements are partially or completely transformed throughout a morphing sequence.
For AMS, intrinsic characteristics include absolute consistency, the total absence of selectivity, and
total completeness of transformations. In contrast, our findings suggest that designers’ morphing
processes are characterized by low consistency (a high level of variety between sets of
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transformations), a high level of selectivity (some elements are transformed while others are left
unattended), and a low level of completeness (elements are only partially transformed throughout the
stages of a morphing sequence). This is in accordance with Goel’s [4] description of the sketching
process – being vague, fluid, ambiguous, and amorphous – characteristics, which are beyond the
capacity of current computational systems.
Figure 9. Analysis of form structure levels for the front view set based on heuristic evaluation of all
elements indicated by respondents
Figure 10. Analysis of form structure levels for the three-quarter front view set based on heuristic
evaluation of all elements indicated by respondents
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Addressing the first research question, we have shown that manual sketching is characteristically
different from AMS with respect to consistency. In contrast to AMS, a designer assigned the same
morphing task will not produce an identical result every time. With respect to target performance, i.e.
the ability of the designer to realize intent, performance will vary considerably between designers and
between assignments, as shown in this research. The introduction of ambiguity to the sketching
process is, of course, a natural source of inspiration and variety. Reflective thinking, as described by
Schön [16], will lead to new interpretations and present opportunities for new solutions in the process
of sketching as performed by the designer. In fact, it seems the designer introduces elements which are
of vertical character (i.e. divergent) in interpolative morphing processes, a characteristic which is not
found in AMS. On the contrary, AMS will produce identical results time after time, given the same
input. From the perspective of producing a variety of solutions, manual sketch work may thus be
considered superior.
As proposed in this paper, a major difference between designers’ and automated systems’ approaches
to morphing resides in the recognition and consideration of purpose of form elements. Designers
morph through sketching on three levels of form structure: superior level, intermediate level, and
detail level. According to Warell [13], form composition is constructed by visual features on all these
levels. As suggested by Figures 9 and 10, utility of form elements increases with greater level of
detail; hence, on the superior form level, utility is low. Our findings suggest that the amount of
transformations, as represented by the number of morphing inconsistencies and similarities, increases
drastically with greater level of detail, in the lower orders of form elements. For example, while the
number of transformations amount to a total of 22 on the superior form level of Figure 10, it rises to
227 on the detail form level.
In response to the second research question, thus, this finding implies that designers in fact choose
what elements to morph, rather than transforming uniformly. In contrast, the behavior of AMS would
have yielded the same number of transformations regardless of form structure level. The type of
elements selected by designers seems to be characterised by having functional purpose. As a
consequence, the inability of AMS to recognize purpose renders them most useful for supporting form
generation on the superior level of form. Accordingly, we suggest that automated morphing may be
most beneficial for use in design work on the superior level of form generation.
On this level, the main purpose of form is to define the overall gestalt of the product. That is, its
function is primarily visual, rather than functional. The visual purpose is shaped and described by the
main motif, representing expressive characteristics and defining the typology of the product, a
characteristic which is suggested by the work of Chen and Parent [11] (Figure 2). This finding is in
contrast to designers’ sketches, which suggest that most form transformation (represented by the
generation of similarities and inconsistencies) occur at the intermediate and detail levels of product
form.
Is utility important in sketching? It may be argued that in the initial phases of form exploration for new
product design, utility is not of primary importance. Rather, the search for new stylistic themes,
embodying new design formats and generating novel representations, an activity which may be far
removed from the focus on utilitarian function, is of core interest. In initial phases, then, AMS may be
employed as a means to generate ideas for new shapes at all levels of form composition. However,
these shapes will lie in the space defined by the polar images used.
Finally, with respect to the third research question, our findings suggest that designers in fact morph
only to a partial degree, exhibiting a low level of completeness in sketch transformation. This is
illustrated by Figures 5 through 8. The top row of sketch transformations in Figure 5 exhibits two
examples of the low level of completeness in morphing. Going from left to right, the left headlight of
the leftmost sketch is only transformed in the first of the three sketches. Similarly, the line indicating
the split line between the bonnet and bumper is only transformed in the first two sketches. Going from
right to left, the right headlight is only transformed in the first two sketches. The same is true for the
bone lines of the bonnet. All these are examples of partial morphing of form elements; a characteristic
which would not be found in AMS.
6 CONCLUSIONS
In conclusion, we argue that AMS in its present form (exhibiting morphing behavior with the
characteristics of absolute consistency, the total absence of selectivity, and total completeness of
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transformations) should be used in an informed manner in design work. This is because AMS have
several limitations in relation to manual sketching by designers. These include:
- AMS are not able to search the design space beyond the polar images employed. As such, AMS
are strictly interpolative; new shapes will merely be a blend of the shapes defined by the set of
polar images. Consequently, AMS are not useful for the generation of novel stylistic themes.
- AMS are unable to recognize and consider purposefulness of form. Hence, visual and utilitarian
aspects of form elements are treated identically, resulting in loss of purpose. This effect is most
significant at the detail level of form composition.
- AMS are absolutely consistent in the sense that an identical task will produce an identical result
every time. Thus, the use of AMS will not lead to variety in solutions, unless polar images are
varied. Manual sketch work will, in contrast, produce a variety in output, even if presented with
the same task every time.
As a consequence, we suggest that AMS may be most useful for exploring a given theme during what
Akner-Koler [3] and Goel [4] refer to as processes of convergent transformation. This typically occurs
during the later stages of the styling process. How, then, may AMS be improved to become more
useful for early stages of design, often characterized by divergent and explorative processes? A logical
solution would be to introduce the ability of AMS to morph selectively and inconsistently, thus
introducing ambiguity and variance. This would require AMS to recognize type and purpose of form
elements, possibly through the use of approaches such as genetic algorithms or fuzzy logics. Systems
with such characteristics are emerging in the field of form optimization, which may provide a suitable
development possibility for AMS in the future.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research was financially supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia; and the
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. This support is gratefully acknowledged.
REFERENCES
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[11] Chen S.E. and Parent R.E. Shape averaging and its applications to industrial design. 1989,
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[12] Monö R. Design for product understanding. 1997 (Liber, Stockholm).
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Paper 6
The significance of form elements: A study of
representational content in design sketches.
Abidin, S.Z., Warell, A., & Liem, A. (2010). The significance of form
elements: A study of representational content in design sketches.
International Journal of Design and Innovation Research, 5(3), 47-60.
International Journal of Design and Innovation Research
Volume 5 – n°3 / 2010
47
The significance of form elements: A study of
representational content of design sketches
S. Z. Abidin1,3, A. Warell 2, A. Liem 3
1 Universiti
Teknologi Mara
MY-40450 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
[email protected]
2 Lund
University
Sölvegatan 26, Box 118,
SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
[email protected]
3 Norwegian
University of Science and Technology
Kolbjørn Hejes Vei 2B,
NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
[email protected]
ABSTRACT. The purpose of this paper is to understand the significance of form elements
through the interpretations of design sketches. These interpretations are provided by
designers themselves interpreting expressive characteristics of car images, and by students
interpreting the sketches of designers’ morphing sequences. In the experimental investigation
of the sketching process through morphing sequence exercises, designers used individually
driven styles and approaches when creating product form. These approaches produce
characteristically different form ideas, which differ (but also show consistency) with respect to
type of car category, expression, identity, recognition, format, composition, complexity, etc.
Typically, assessment of generated sketch work and ideas is done using relative heuristic
evaluation in a comparative design review. Given a large set of automotive sketches, general
patterns of styling emphasis can be identified. The paper concludes that perceptions of
designers are varied due to the representation format of the ideas as visual hand sketches.
The visual hand sketches point out certain meaning and can be categorized with respect to
perceptual characteristics according to the Product Perception Framework (PPE framework)
and suggest that a tool to support evaluation and generation of early design concepts can be
developed, and to support the generation of form ideas with desired characteristics for a
brand, product category and market.
KEYWORDS: Aesthetics, Categorization, Form, Perception, Visual
1. Introduction
In mature markets, where the functionality and performance of products are often taken for
granted, attention is increasingly focused on the visual characteristics of products (Crilly,
Moultrie, & Clarkson, 2004). Hereby, design offers a potent way to position and differentiate
products as competition intensifies, product complexity increases, and technological
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differentiation becomes more difficult (Cova & Svanfeldt, 1993). Significant efforts in recent
literature have focussed on investigating specific approaches to innovation and design. The
most known approaches are User-centred Design Innovation (Chayutsahakij & Poggenpohl,
2002; Vredenburg, Isensee, & Righi, 2002; Veryzer & Borja de Mozota, 2005), Context-based
Design Innovation (Hekkert & Van Dijk, 2003) and Design-driven Innovation. Design-driven
Innovation, which plays such a crucial role in the innovation strategy of design intensive firms,
has still remained largely unexplored (Verganti, 2008). One explanation for why Designdriven Innovation has largely remained unexplored is that its processes are hard to detect
when one applies the typical methods of scientific investigation in product development, such
as analyses of phases, organizational structures, or problem-solving tools (Brown &
Eisenhardt, 1995; Shane & Ulrich, 2004).
Unlike user-centred processes, Design-driven Innovation is hardly based on formal roles
and methods such as ethnographic research. It may be considered as a manifestation of a
reconstructionist (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005) or social-constructionist (Prahalad &
Ramaswamy, 2000) view of the market, where the market is not “given” a priori, but is the
result of an interaction between consumers and firms. Hereby, users need to understand the
radically new languages and messages, to find new connections to their socio-cultural
context, and to explore new symbolic values and patterns of interaction with the product.
When targeting competitive advantage using design, Cagan and Vogel (2002) concluded
that one of the key attributes that distinguishes breakthrough products from their closest
followers is the significant value they provide for users. Several categorisations of value have
been suggested. Boztepe (2007) has categorised user value according to utility, social
significance, emotional and spiritual value. Utility value refers to the utilitarian consequences
of a product. Social significance value refers to the socially oriented benefits attained through
ownership of and experience with a product. Emotional value refers to the affective benefits
of a product for people who interact with it. Similarly, Sanders and Simons (2009) identified
three types of values related to co-creation, which are inextricably linked. These values are
monetary, use/experience, and societal.
In most cases, Design-driven Innovation influences value creation of products and
services from a cultural and emotional perspective. Explicitly, the social significance value is
then being embodied by semantic, syntactic and pragmatic characteristics, which are
inherently related to its respective product or service. Re-addressing “Monetary Value”, price
positively influences the perception of quality, and willingness to buy. Hereby, the interaction
of brand name and price caused subjects to perceive the semantic, syntactic and pragmatic
characteristics to be higher in quality and value, and to be more willing to purchase the
product than when brand name is absent (Dodds & Monroe, 1985). Within this context of
“Value Creation” and “Design-driven Innovation”, it is therefore necessary to introduce a
framework of product experience (Crilly, Moultrie, & Clarkson, 2004), in order to better
understand the significance of form elements and how these form elements can enhance the
development of brand attributes.
2. Representational issues with respect to car design
A car’s design character is typically obtained by sequentially modifying a neutral car
according to the designer’s tastes and objectives. Considering the car as a 3D volume and
the size of the wheels as a unit for measuring of volumes, the designer normally focuses on
some typical entities and moves them away from the average. In the designing process,
wheels are the first entities designers focus upon, before drawing the whole car around them
(Tovey, Porter, & Newman, 2003). This structured approach in the overall development of a
car is common practice, because the product is constrained to strict
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engineering/technological requirements. From a design practice perspective, all curves
successively created in the two-dimensional (2D) sketch are then aimed at defining a specific
volume that is rendered a second time, adding lights and shades, enforcing the curvature
effects, and so on to express the stylist’s intent and character of the car. For instance,
designing and sketching practice in collaboration with Pininfarina Ricerca e Sviluppo team
(see Catalano, 2004) showed that there are three aspects in the automotive field, which play
a decisive role in product synthesizing and judgment. They are:
• Graphics, i.e., some details of the car or the color;
• Treatment, i.e., the character of surfaces and leading lines;
• Volume, i.e., proportions and the mass distribution (Cheutet et al., 2005).
The following design examples below illustrate what is meant by “Treatment” and
“Volume” in the profile view.
Curves encompass the roof line, the waist (or belt) line, and the front and rear panel
overhangs. By definition, the waist line is the curve dividing the side windows and the body
side, while the overhang is the distance between the front or rear end of the car and the
centre of the front or rear wheel, respectively. In practice, it is the curve (accent line), rather
than the waist line, that is considered for character evaluation. Actually, the accent line may
be a light line; a curve only perceived when light is reflected.
However, initiatives to consciously introduce representational issues in the design and
brand development have been limited. Although some line work and surface generation in
certain car designs has proven to be effective and meaningful in the development of brand
identity and explanation of semantic (meaning carrying) and syntactic (structure establishing)
qualities (see Figure 1) (Karjalainen, 2007; Warell, 2001), the need for connecting car
features to representations to gain greater awareness in car designing and branding has not
yet been thoroughly established.
The aim of this study is to develop consciousness among designers when they generate
car designs in terms of recognition, comprehension and association.
Figure 1. The side-shoulder, also known as the ‘catwalk,’ carries semantic and syntactic
functionality of the Volvo form language (see Warell, 2001).
3. Perceptual experience
The human experience of visual space includes knowledge relating to the size, shape,
location, and distribution of entities in stable three-dimensional (3D) environment. In the 3D
environment, it seems the perceptual system and processes facilitate the sense-perceptory
and brain mechanisms that process perceptual information, giving rise to spatial experience.
According to Evans and Chilton (2009), perception consists of three stages: i) sensation, ii)
perceptual organization, and iii) identification and recognition. Sensation concerns the way in
which external energy, such as light, heat, or (sound) vibrations are converted into the neural
codes which the brain recognizes. Perceptual organization concerns the way in which this
sensory information is organized and formed into a perceptual object, a percept. Identification
and recognition relates to the stage in the process whereby past experiences and conceptual
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knowledge are brought to bear in order to interpret the percept. For example, a spherical
object might be identified and recognized as a football or a coin, or a wheel, or some other
‘circular’ object.
According to Dewey, experience is not something that is totally internal to the individual.
Rather, "an experience is always what it is because of a transaction taking place between an
individual and what, at the time, constitutes his environment" (p.43) (see Cooper, 2001).
Experiences are context- and situation-specific; which means they change from one set of
immediate circumstances, time, and location to another. In a similar way, value changes as
cultural values and norms, and external contextual factors, change (Boztepe, 2007).
Focussing on the product, Hekkert (2006), claims that its function can very well be
experiential; for instance to enjoy, enrich, inspire, and strengthen one’s identity, and many
believe such experiences are nowadays more decisive in people’s buying behavior than the
product’s primary or utilitarian function. Therefore, making all the sensory messages
congruent with the intended, overall experience is an important task for designers. In line with
Crilly (2005), it is assumed that communication through product design occurs through the
embodiment of designer intent in the form of products, and through the subsequent
interpretation of meaning by the public.
Product experience is subjective and specific to each perceiver, and depends on personal
factors (experiences, background, cultural values and motives), product related factors (type
of product, properties and characteristics, brand), and external factors (environmental, social
and economic context). A variety of aspects of product experience, as well as frameworks,
have been proposed by a range of authors (Crilly, Moultrie, & Clarkson, 2004; Lewalski,
1988; Jordan, 2000; Heufner, 2004; Norman, 2004; Desmet & Hekkert, 2007).
In this work, we have adopted the framework of Perceptual Product Experience, the PPE
framework (for more detail, see Warell, 2008), as a model for analysis. This framework
considers modes of product experience, and dimensions for representing the product.
Perceptual product experience is described as being composed of three core modes; the
sensorial, the cognitive, and the affective modes of experience, and two dimensions; the
dimension of presentation and representation (see Figure 2). In the following sections, the
modes and dimensions of the PPE framework are briefly described.
The three core modes recognize all possible types of perceptual experience; including
initial impression and recognition of product existence and specific perceptual characteristics
(the sensorial mode); making sense of the product, its manifestation, structure, use, origin
and purpose (the cognitive mode); and the affective response, attribution of value to, and
judgment of the product (the affective mode).
The dimension of presentation is concerned with the direct, sensual stimuli related side of
the experience. This may be seen as the ‘pleasurable’ side of the experience, related to the
direct, non-interpretative experience, and includes the impression, appreciation and emotion
submodes.
In this paper, we are interested in the significance of form elements as interpreted by
designers, which relates to the dimension of representation. In this dimension, the product
experience is regarded as a meaning-making phenomenon that can be described by the
three submodes of ‘recognition’, ‘comprehension’, and ‘association’. The process of meaning
making is socio-culturally contextualised and can be seen from the perspective of the
producer (e.g., the designer or company) and the perceiver (e.g., the customer or user). The
representation submodes can be explained through Piercean sign theory (Pierce, 1931-1966)
and are described in the following:
The first mode, recognition, is based on familiarity, resemblance or similarity, and requires
previous precedents to compare with (i.e., iconic sign references). Thus it is dependent on
the existence of pre-established references stored in long term memory (Simon, 1992; Solso,
IJODIR Volume 5 – n°3 / 2010
51
1999). Recognition of product type and brand requires resemblance to other products through
similar sensorial elements. In the visual domain, such elements are known as ‘signifiers’ or
‘design cues’. For example, the characteristic ‘kidney’ front grille of a BMW is an example of
design element which identifies the BMW brand through iconic recognition.
Comprehension, the second mode, is about making ‘sense of things’, such that products
are “understandable to their users” (Krippendorff & Butter, 1984). Through comprehension,
we understand characteristics such as level of quality and nature of the product; the product
describes its operation, expresses its properties, and exhorts certain types of action or even
non-action; it informs and advises about itself. In comprehension, perceivable references in
the product point towards the product itself, providing meaning related to the nature,
behaviour, properties and essential physical characteristics of the product. Semiotically,
indexical and symbolical signs create references for comprehension of the product. For
example, a typical door handle is an example of an indexical sign, describing operation and
function. The hard and shiny quality of a stainless steel surface or the sturdiness expressed
by a Jeep, are examples of symbolic references, referring to the nature of the product.
Figure 2. Framework of perceptual product experience (PPE framework), with core modes
(centre) and the two dimensions of presentation (left) and representation (right) with
submodes (Warell, 2008).
Finally, the third mode, association, is about communication of, e.g., values, origin and
heritage. Association is dependent on subjective and socio-culturally conditioned processes
of coding, which determine how we create references with meaning through symbolic signs
within groups with similar values and aspirations and interpretative communities (Chandler,
1994). In association, meaning is created (encoded) and interpreted (decoded) from two
perspectives; from the point of view of the manufacturer, who uses the product to convey
strategic brand messages and build brand values (Karjalainen, 2004); and from the point of
view of the customer or user, who communicates personal values and preferences through
ownership or use of the product. The classical, aristocratic values and the racing heritage
imbued by a Jaguar are examples of symbolic association.
The representation dimension of the PPE framework is intimately related to product
identity (Warell, 2006a; Warell, Fjellner, & Stridsman-Dahlström, 2006b) according to the
following, with respect to identity references for each sub mode:
• Recognition (of Type): “What the product is” (function, use, purpose, maker)
• Comprehension (of Characteristics): “How the product is” (properties, performance,
behaviour, mode-of-use)
• Association (to Values): “What the product stands for” (origin, brand, heritage, user)
Consequently, a product with strong representational qualities in all three sub modes will
most likely be perceived as having a strong and clear identity.
IJODIR Volume 5 – n°3 / 2010
52
4. Objective and method
The objective of this research is to investigate how respondents interpret sketches made by
designers with respect to representational characteristics. Research questions explored in the
study are:
RQ1: What associations are evoked by photographic representations? How do the
associations differ between designers and respondents? (In relation to the PPE framework,
this question addresses the comprehension and association modes)
RQ2. What expressions are conveyed by sketch representations? What elements carry these
expressions? (In relation to the PPE framework, this question addresses the comprehension
mode)
RQ3. What visual brand references are carried by the sketches? (In relation to the PPE
framework, this question addresses the recognition and association modes)
Two complimentary studies were performed in order to answer these research questions.
The first study involved a sketching assignment for practising industrial designers in the
automotive industry. The second study involved an elicitation assignment for product design
students, based on the sketches produced in the first study.
4.1. Study 1
In Study 1, a total of 43 selected automotive designers in the United Kingdom, Norway,
Sweden, and Malaysia were first asked to assign a keyword for a set of front view and threequarter front view images of selected automotive designs. Each polar image consisted of a
grayscale photograph of a production car currently available on the world market (Figure 4).
Secondly, they were given the task of performing morphing sequences for the two views,
using manual freehand sketching. Morphing in this paper refers to the shape interpolation
(blend shapes, morph targets, and shape interpolation), which is the most intuitive and
commonly used technique in shape animation practices (see Figure 3). A blend shape model
is simply the linear weighted sum of a number of topologically conforming shape primitives
(see Chen & Parent, 1989; Abidin, Warell, & Liem, 2011; Deng & Noh, 2008). We assigned
designers to produce morphing sequences, each consisting of three sketches, representing
the 25%, 50% and 75% transformation stages, respectively, based on two photographic polar
image references. In the assignment, designers gradually morphed from the left image to the
right polar image in three consecutive steps. Using this technique would allow later analysis
to identify the transformation of specific elements in each sketch, carrying representative
characteristics according to the PPE framework. Each designer carried out the assignment
individually at their work premises.
Figure 3. Morphing; weighted average shapes from a car to a teardrop shape for the rations
of (a) 70/30, (b) 50/50, and (c) 30/70 (Chen and Parent, 1989).
4.2. Study 2
In the second study, a total of 10 respondents; all final year, masters level product design
students, analysed the morphing sequences produced by the designers in Study 1. Firstly,
IJODIR Volume 5 – n°3 / 2010
53
the respondents were given the task to identify the car brand and to assign a keyword
expressing their spontaneous reaction to each photographic polar base image (Figure 4).
They were also asked to list three expressions evoked by the images, and to indicate (using a
pencil) three characteristic visual features for each brand.
Secondly, a selection of view sets (front view and three-quarter front view) by five
different designers was made by the authors, based on a heuristic quality review. Each view
set was represented by five separate morphing sequences of three sketches each. Each
respondent participated in two tests. In Test 1 respondents assessed the five sets of front
view sketches, while in Test 2, respondents assessed the five sets of three-quarter front view
sketches. In total, each respondent assessed 150 sketches. Each student carried out the
assignment individually at the university premises.
Front view
Three-quarter
front view
Left polar image
Right polar image
(VW New Beetle)
(BMW 3 Series)
Left polar image
Right polar image
(Fiat 500)
(Acura RL)
Figure 4. Polar base images used in the study (brand and model identifiers were not
provided to respondents).
The respondents were given the five sets of morphing sequences for each view. The
morphing sequences of three sketches each were presented one at a time. Thus, in total, ten
morphing sequences were presented to each respondent. For each sequence of morphing
sketches, the respondents were asked to indicate features carrying the same expressions, as
well as features evoking the same associations, as stated previously. Respondents indicated
features using colored pencils on grayscale A3 paper printouts of each morphing sequence.
In addition to the annotated sketch material provided by the respondents, the study was
recorded using digital audio and video equipment for reference during subsequent analysis.
5. Results and discussion
In this section, the findings of the analysis of Study 1 and Study 2 are presented. The
analysis aimed to ascertain what types of elements are perceived to have representational
meaning with respect to recognition (iconic references), comprehension (indexical and
symbolic references), and associations (symbolic references), according to the
categorizations of the PPE framework. During the analysis, responses from respondents
were categorized according to the types of representation of the PPE framework and mapped
to each representational sub mode (recognition, comprehension, and association,
respectively).
The results are summarized and discussed in the following. The presentation is divided
into interpretations of photographic base images and of sketch morphing sequences,
respectively.
IJODIR Volume 5 – n°3 / 2010
54
5.1. Interpretations of photographic base images
With respect to the first research question (what associations are evoked by photographic
representations, and how do the associations differ between designers and respondents?), a
very wide range of interpretations was evoked. Although some responses did match, no clear
correlations between designers and respondents could be identified. Since the associative
field is of very wide range and dependent on subjective, cultural and contextual variations,
this finding is not unexpected. The PPE framework did however assist in revealing these
differences, and it is possible that more homogenous groups of subjects would have yielded a
more coherent result.
The Volkswagen New Beetle, BMW 3 series and New Fiat 500 were recognised correctly,
whereas the recognition of the Acura RL 500 was misinterpreted (not identified correctly with
respect to brand).
In terms of comprehension, the New Beetle was perceived as generally pleasant and fun.
The BMW 3-series represented masculine traits such as strength, aggression, dominance,
etc. The Fiat 500 resembled the New Beetle, but was comprehended as less positive
concerning the level of communicated confidence. The Acura RL shared the same traits as
the BMW 3 series, but was complemented with some negative perceptions, such as
inconsistent, cheap, and dull.
From an association perspective, the New Beetle was perceived to appeal to young
singles and families, who are fun-loving, have the interest and economic capacity to spend on
safety and quality. They were also perceived to have a sense of nostalgia. The customers of
the BMW 3 series were perceived as being male-oriented, profiled as professional individuals
valuing superior technological quality. For the Fiat 500, associations seem to be
contradicting. On one hand, young, energetic and sporty individuals, who are Mediterranean
inspired and are inclined towards an urban lifestyle are seen to have an affinity for the car. On
the other hand the car is being associated with low-cost and low quality characteristics. In
terms of associative characteristics, the Acura RL resembles that of the BMW 3 series,
however, connotations, such as Asian, boring, value for money, and conservative, negatively
influence the perception, concerning the dynamic and quality impact of the car.
5.2. Interpretations of sketches
As mentioned earlier, a total of 150 sketches were assessed by respondents. The method of
assessment generated qualitative material for analysis, including annotated sketches with
pencil markings indicating features carrying representative qualities as interpreted by the
respondents, and basic descriptive quantitative material derived from summations of
markings in different representational categories (i.e., the three representation modes of the
PPE framework). The analysis generated approximately 49 A4 pages of tabulated material,
including verbal comments and visual sketch material with annotated features, categorised
according to the three representational modes (recognition, comprehension, association).
Figures 5 and 6 provide examples of the collated annotated sketch material.
5.2.1. Findings (front view)
Overall, the front view test yielded fewer responses than the three quarter front view test. This
may be due to a lower level of sketch complexity, resulting in a smaller number of sketch
features.
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55
Figure 5. Collated responses to research questions 2 (orange annotations) and 3 (green
annotations) based on interpretations from respondents. Each row represents a selection of
front view morphing sequences by different designers for left (VW New Beetle) and right
(BMW 3-series) polar base images.
Figure 6. Collated responses to research questions 2 (orange annotations) and 3 (green
annotations) based on interpretations from respondents. Each row represents a selection of
three-quarter front view morphing sequences by different designers for left (Fiat 500) and
right (Acura RL) polar base images.
IJODIR Volume 5 – n°3 / 2010
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On an average across all representational modes, respondents indicated between 1,6
and 2,1 features for each sketch image. Indicated features included specific detail form
elements as well as overall form on the gestalt level.
Compared to three quarter front view responses, more features in the comprehension
mode were indicated for the front view sketch sequences. Possibly, this may be due to
respondents being more familiar to interpreting expressive properties in the front view of cars,
which is often referred to by automotive designers as the ‘face’ of the car.
For the research questions, the specific findings were as follows:
RQ2. What expressions are conveyed by sketch representations? What elements carry these
expressions?
• In the comprehension mode, the VW New Beetle generated a much stronger response, in
terms of the number of interpretations, compared to the BMW 3-series.
• In terms of comprehension, respondents reported a gradual decrease in expressed
femininity for morphing sketches towards the right polar base image (the BMW 3-series).
• Expressions for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
VW New Beetle: Retro, Confident, Funny, Cute, Happy, Nice, Calm, Fast, Soft
BMW 3-series: Serious
• Comprehension elements for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
VW New Beetle: front lights, bonnet outline, front air intake outline, front fascia,
glasshouse silhouette
BMW 3-series: front fascia, grille outline, frontal silhouette, front light outline, front air
intake pillars, height ratio, side rear view mirror
RQ3. What visual brand references are carried by the sketches?
• Recognition of brand is determined by outer shape, bonnet line and headlamps.
• The recognition mode received the strongest response in terms of the number of
interpretations. This was true for both polar base images (VW New Beetle and BMW 3series).
• No general conclusions can be made regarding the association mode, due to the small
number and contradictive nature of responses.
• Recognition elements for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
VW New Beetle: Headlight outlines, fog lights, bonnet outline, front fascia, front air intake
outline, frontal silhouette, glasshouse silhouette
BMW 3-series: Headlight outlines, front fascia, grille outline, frontal silhouette, front air
intake outline, height ratio, side rear view mirror, fender curves
• Associations for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
VW New Beetle: Looks like a frog, Unfriendly, Friendly person with soft qualities
BMW 3-series: Established, Looks big
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5.2.2. Findings (three-quarter front view)
Overall, respondents indicated a significantly larger number of responses in the recognition
mode, followed by comprehension and association. The reason for this may be
methodological, as indicating explicit and characteristic iconic elements (recognition mode)
using pencil markings on sketch reference images lends itself more naturally than indicating
more implicit and inherent qualities such as expressions (comprehension mode) and values
(association mode). This aspect was however considered in the method, as it also allowed
respondents to respond qualitatively using free text as a complimentary option. However, it
may be more useful for the study of symbolic references to use other methods, such as
interviews or visual, associative elicitation methods.
From the 10 respondents, the number of responses on each of the three modes
“Recognition”, “Comprehension” and “Association” were less than five for each morphing
sequence. On an average across all representational modes, respondents indicated between
1,6 and 2,5 features for each sketch image. Indicated features included specific detail form
elements as well as overall form on the gestalt level.
Across all morphing sequences, a considerably stronger response was indicated for the
left base image (Fiat 500). More representational qualities were reported for each mode,
which was indicated by more features and more symbolic associations compared to the right
polar image (Acura RL).
For the research questions, the specific findings were as follows:
RQ2. What expressions are conveyed by sketch representations? What elements carry these
expressions?
• The comprehension mode (expressive and descriptive qualities) is considerably stronger
for the Fiat 500 than for the Acura RL. Stronger expressions and more references were
generated.
• Expressions for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
Fiat 500: Aggressive Confident, Cute, Retro, Stupid, Joy, Humble, Innocent, Feminine,
Practical, Simple, Funny
Acura RL: Speedy, Macho, Exclusive
• Comprehension elements for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
Fiat 500: Bone line, Belt line, front lights, silhouette, top bumper split line, front façade,
wheel outline, height ratio
Acura RL: side blisters, front fascia, C pillar, front lights, overall silhouette, grille outline
RQ3. What visual brand references are carried by the sketches?
• Recognition of both cars is determined by the overall outer shape, features and
components
• Recognition elements for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
Fiat 500: Waist-line, Bone-line, Belt line, Pillar line, Wheel, Headlamp, Bumper-line,
Fender curves, A-pillar shape, Overall Shape, Front fascia, Front overhang
Acura RL: C-Pillar, Door-line, Radiator Grill, Bonnet-line, Bumper-line, Overall shape,
from Fender curves to A-pillar
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• Associations for the 25% transformation of each polar image included:
Fiat 500: Inexpensive, Like a child, Like a mouse, Resembles a toy
Acura RL: Expensive, Shaped, High class person
6. Concluding discussion
The objective of the study was to understand the significance of form elements through the
study of representational content of design sketches. The central proposition was made that
people interpret sketches with respect to representational qualities through semiotic
interpretation. According to the typological categorization of representation of the PPE
framework, such qualities include recognition (iconic references), comprehension (indexical
and symbolic references), and associations (symbolic references).
Although perceptions of designers and respondents are varied due to the representation
format of the ideas as visual hand sketches in the morphing process, the PPE framework is
still considered a useful tool for establishing familiarity, understanding quality characteristics
and nature of the product and finally determining meanings and assessing values of form
elements.
This suggests that within the context of incremental design development (morphing),
which is prevalent in the car design industry, a tool to support evaluation and generation of
early design concepts may be developed based upon the PPE framework. The tool could be
a tool box in a CAD software like “representational sofwares” that support qualitative
elements through Recognition (of Type), Comprehension (of Characteristics), and
Association (of Values) specifically conceived for car design development phases.
Furthermore, these findings could open new research paths – e.g., new guidelines to be
applied in sketching phases or questionnaires/pictures to be proposed to producers,
customers and users.
Once such a tool can be realised within an extended framework of product experience,
the business concept of “Value Creation” and “Design-driven Innovation” can then be better
understood in relation to the significance of form elements and how these form elements
support the communication of brand attributes.
Acknowledgments
This research was financially supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia; and
the Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. This support is gratefully acknowledged.
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