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Applied Aesthetics, on the Visceral Level of Design

Suzanne Arnesen


Vår 2022
Institutt for design

Steinar Westhrin Killi
What is aesthetics, and what are the consequences of an aesthetic impression on the human mind? Do we judge what we find attractive differently? -As a designer I really want to know. 

Through a research by design approach, this Industrial Design diploma explores the concept of aesthetics as a subjective and emotional experience, created by our perception. At the heart of the project is an experiment, based on the hypothesis of that: “A products aesthetic impression affect how we judge its quality and/or functionality”

The workshop experiment was carried out at Teknisk Museum in Oslo. The workshop involved three speakers that acted as probes to test the hypothesis. The speakers were intentionally designed to be perceived as unattractive (speaker A), generic (speaker B) and radical (speaker C). 

40 respondents participated in the workshop. The respondents were asked to user test three seemingly different speakers. After listening to music from each of them, the responded rated each of the speaker on aesthetic appeal and sound quality, on a scale from one to three. 

What the users didn’t know, is that the “speakers” were empty models. The music they listen to came from another speaker installed inside of each pedestal. The three pedestals contained the same type of speaker, objectively their sound quality was the same.

The results of the workshop showed correlation between the variables: aesthetic impression and perceived sound quality. The hypothesis was confirmed. The results also demonstrate how, despite of aesthetic being a subjective matter, we agree in our judgement on what we find attractive and unattractive.

Suzanne Arnesensuzanne@sprell.no