Feeling the pull: using magnetic modeling to understand emotions in form

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Research in design, emotion, and product experience has focused on establishing a connection between the aesthetic qualities of products and emotions. Studies in product expression have demonstrated relevant patterns between

Research in design, emotion, and product experience has focused on establishing a connection between the aesthetic qualities of products and emotions. Studies in product expression have demonstrated relevant patterns between aesthetics and spatial reasoning. In design research, fully understanding latent qualities of consumers assists in developing an immersive product experience which in turn can engender a lasting product relationship. This study evaluates how people interpret the emotionality of form in order to establish a veritable method for interpreting emotional variables in 3D objects.

This research assesses the emotional perception of aesthetic values in 2D and 3D teapots. A teapot image collection and taxonomy was constructed with 101 images of teapots across four centuries. Eighty-four participants completed a card sorting task of twenty randomly distributed teapot images (taken from the total 101 image collection) into Plutchik's eight emotion categories. Individual pieces of the teapots were coded according to the base, handle, lid, or spout that was presented in the image. The coded pieces from the card-sorting task were arranged per frequency in the overall set. Through the use of response data from the card sorting task, a network of the images was developed in Pathfinder. The content of these results were compared to images of models gathered during an interview with an interactive co-creation method referred to as Magnetic Modeling. Magnetic Modeling is a methodological tool that allowed participants to manipulate individualized pieces of 3D printed teapots into proposed emotional labels.

The findings of this research establish prototypical associations in aesthetic traits and teapot piece combinations for each emotion category. Participant responses were categorized into 4 personas representing the types of perceptual bias in the studies' participants. A discussion and comparison of the methods for academic and theoretical practice is provided.