Product Design - Aesthetics
Article Index
Product Design
Layout and Appearance
Materials and Manufacturing
Selecting and mounting input and output devices
Fitting the PCB to the product, and the product to the PCB
Adapting bought-in housings
Joining electronics to other materials
Developing a user guide
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“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

proddes7Aesthetics is the human perception of beauty, including sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and movement – not just visual appeal.

Occasionally the complex electronic contents of an electronic product have their own aesthetic appeal to (perhaps more technical) users and this can sometimes be exploited.

But in general, the designer’s main attention is on the visual appeal of the ‘product’ – the casing.

The image on the right shows a GCSE 'dice' project.


proddes8Aesthetics is the aspect of design and technology which most closely relates to art and design, and issues of colour, shape, texture, contrast, form, balance, cultural references and emotional response are common to both areas.

Like the artist, the design and technologist makes use of creativity and imagination, divergent thinking, personal interests, inspiration from design movements and from nature.

proddes9And like the artist, the design and technologist will usually make use of sketches in the early stages of developing a design.


Below is an early sketch of Dyson's first cylinder Dual Cyclone™ vacuum cleaner.


Where design and technology diverges from art and design is that its aim is to produce a product which is both useful and attractive. And so design and technology involves the challenge of holding together the values of practical utility and aesthetic appeal.

Below is a production version of Dyson's Dual Cyclone™ vacuum cleaner.


proddes9cPeople like to own products that they perceive as being attractive.  At its worst this can lead to 'designer' products where the 'attraction' is a large designer label backed by trendy advertising of the brand.

But at its best good industrial design leads to products that are genuinely appealing and involve an authentic synthesis of function and form.


Brief Case Study

proddes9dRowan Todd, Jenny Dein and Alan Barnes (Centre for Design & Technology Education, Sheffield Hallam University) with support from TEP have developed ideas for an attractive ‘spinning project’ (such as a Frisbee).

proddes9eThe idea is a fun project that pupils will want to take it home.

It makes use of vacuum forming and introduces a range of manipulative skills.

The pupils are able to choose the material colours and design their own ‘dome’ images using an art package.

proddes9fDye sublimation – a process that can provide visually dynamic results – can be used to transfer the image to the dome.

As an extension task, pupils are able to decorate the main body of the Frisbee.

proddes9gThe PCB has been designed to fit the housing and to place the LEDs symmetrically.

Details of vacuum forming and dye sublimation are given in the subsection on ‘Materials and manufacturing processes’.

Details of designing a suitable PCB are in ‘Fitting the PCB to the product, and the product to the PCB’.

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