Now work in groups of two and brainstorm products (that exist or you design) that fit into the four 'pleasure type' catagories. Provide images from the internet or that you sketch.
Then read the following and take notes for a discussion:
Aesthetics and ergonomics in product design
"More and more people buy objects for intellectual and spiritual nourishment. People do not buy my coffee makers, kettles and lemon squeezers because they need to make coffee, to boil water, or to squeeze lemons, but for other reasons."
Alberto Alessi, Designer
This quote gives an indication of how the world of product design has changed over the past few decades. An appreciation of pleasure in product use is fast becoming of primary importance to both consumer and the design industry alike. Consumers' expectations have been raised; they no longer simply expect the products they buy to be functional and usable. Consumers demand functionality, expect usability and are seeking products that that elicit other feelings such as pleasure or that strike a certain emotional chord. It likely to be the aesthetics of the product; the way it looks, the feel of the material, the tactile or 'haptic' response of controls or more abstract feelings, such as reflected status, that give pleasure.
Traditionally, product design has been considered to comprise three main elements:
Product Designers need a knowledge of all these elements. In the case of the design of a small or simple product, the designer's responsibility may be for all of these elements. In the case of larger products, such as cars, the designer's responsibility may be for aesthetics only; ergonomists and engineers providing the expertise needed for the other elements.
Conventionally, ergonomics has consisted of usability and functionality, and designing pleasure into the product has been the job of the designer. However, increasingly the boundaries between the two disciplines are disappearing, and ergonomists are taking some responsibility for the aesthetics of the design, using scientific methods to increase understanding of the aesthetics (both pleasurable and displeasurable) and applying this to the design of products.
The best design occurs when all three components are considered together from the start of the design process. Usually, compromises will have to be made, but understanding all the issues involved will help to make the most acceptable compromises. For example, if you are designing a sports car, you will make different compromises from those that you will make if you are designing a family sedan car.
The emphasis is on aesthetics and performance. The car may go very fast, look beautiful and make all the right sort of noises. However, it is likely to be difficult to get in and out of, have little storage space, seat only two people and have limited visibility. The physical and functional ergonomics are not the best but the car is exactly what the consumer is expecting of a sports car. Ergonomics is compromised in order to achieve performance and aesthetics.
Family sedan car
The emphasis is on functionality and usability. The car should first serve the needs of the family, so will have adequate seating and storage space and be suitable for family traveling. It should also have aesthetic appeal but there may be compromises in design in order to provide the required levels of functionality and usability.
Compromises need to be made in different ways depending upon the product.
Where ergonomics and aesthetics meet
Clearly, many aesthetic ideas are easily combined with good ergonomics, for example, chairs that look good and are comfortable too; buttons on your mobile phone that give good feedback. This Alessi corkscrew has obviously been designed to be more than just a corkscrew, but it is extremely functional as well.
Where aesthetics may predominate
There are other products that conflict directly with ergonomics principles. For example, cars that go so fast they thrill you despite (or is it because of?) the risk that you are taking. However, whilst speed limits and traffic calming measures exist to slow fast cars down in dangerous situations, these fast, thrilling objects of desire are still designed and manufactured. Another example of aesthetics having more influence than ergonomics is shoes that are beautiful and very fashionable, but are bad for your feet and your posture, and increase the risk of slipping and hurting yourself. We are all educated as small children about the need to wear well-fitting, flat shoes for healthy feet, but we would complain if all footwear had to be designed by ergonomic principles only.
Where aesthetics must never predominate
Conversely, there are situations where ergonomics principles must override aesthetics, such as products that are used in safety-critical situations. For example, equipment designed for use in operating theatres or by air traffic controllers. There is much legislation concerning the safety of products and designers must work within these constraints of legislation or their products will not be allowed to enter the market place. For more on product safety, see the product evaluation topic.
Where to compromise
Many products are not safety-critical and the designer must take the responsibility for balancing aesthetics and ergonomics appropriately. Miniaturization of products is an example worth considering. When mobile telephones were first designed, technology dictated that they were the size of a small house brick! The displays and controls were easily usable by most people, but they considered the phones to be too large and heavy to be very 'mobile'. Technological advances allowed the production of smaller phones and they became truly 'mobile'; fitting easily into handbags and pockets. However, the control and display sizes were compromised and many have become too small for easy use. The optimum compromise was not recognized.
adapted from: http://www.ergonomics4schools.com/lzone/aesthetics.htm