Sensory Perception in Materials Selection for Industrial/Product Design

By Anthony David Hope, Mark Jones and Hengfeng Zuo.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A major concern of designers of consumer products is how their products will be perceived in the market place. The materials used in the manufacture of these products become the media by which the interface between the consumer and the designed product is perceived. The consumer perception of these products will be strongly influenced by their sensory interaction with the materials through both visual and non-visual means. Hence, the selection of a material for a manufactured product is influenced not only by the physical properties but also by the user’s perception of the material based on sensory properties such as colour, texture, smell and taste. In addition to addressing material perception within the sensory domain, this research project also focuses on the cultural domain, including understanding the relationships between sensory responses and culture. An interdisciplinary research approach has been adopted which draws on expertise from design and engineering, social science, and arts and humanities. This combines a study of cultural memory, as well as associative values attached to materials and objects, perception and physical properties of materials. This paper discusses the initial results of controlled experimental tests undertaken in both Southampton and Beijing using specially prepared samples of leather. Participants were asked to perceive the texture of the samples via senses such as vision, touch, or a combination of both vision and touch. This was followed by completing a questionnaire, consisting of both quantitative and qualitative questions. Two additional tests were also included, a blindfold and sighted smell test and a visual colour assessment. Statistical software was used to analyse the correlations between the subjective data obtained.

Keywords: Design, Materials, Sensory Perception, Aesthetics

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.17-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 783.269KB).

Prof. Anthony David Hope

Professor of Automation and Control, Faculty of Technology, Southampton Solent University, Southampton, Hampshire, UK

Tony Hope is a Professor in the Creative Industries Research Group, Faculty of Technology, Southampton Solent University, UK. He has many years research experience in materials related topics and has published many papers in refereed international journals and conferences. His current research is concerned with sensory perception of materials, particularly via vision and touch, and the influence of this on the selection of appropriate materials in the design of consumer products. He and his colleague at Southampton, Mark Jones, are collaborating on this work with researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Mark Jones

Programme Group Leader, Animation Arts and Product Design, Faculty of Creative Industries and Society, Southampton Solent University, Southampton, Hampshire, UK

Mark Jones is the Programme Group Leader for Animation Arts and Product Design, Faculty of Creative Industries and Society, Southampton Solent University, UK. He has over 25 years' experience as a design consultant, as well as lecturing in the area of product design. He established the research programme at Solent in 2004 to investigate the sensory properties of materials and to explore the influence of culture within the design aesthetic. He has published many papers and products that integrate this research into his practice.

Hengfeng Zuo

Associate Professor, Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Hengfeng Zuo is Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Apart from design teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, he is currently leading the research in the area of colour, materials and surface finish (CMF) for Art and Design, with a special emphasis on material sensory perception and material selection resources and tools. Hengfeng is a partner of Piccinato Design (Italian design consultancy), a member of Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3, UK) and a member of Desgn Research Society. He is also a Visiting Fellow at Southampton Solent University, UK.