Designing Visceral, Behavioural and Reflective Products

Mersha Aftab, Helen A. Rusli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Designers and manufacturers often see consumption as the primary objective of a product – with implications such as discarded products, obsolete wastes, and ecological degradation. The paper aims to find the answer to the question, how emotional design can adapt the discarded and undesirable products into something valuable in a long term? This paper presents a framework combining Chapman’s theory and Norman’s theory on three levels of emotional design to highlight what long lasting connection with products entails. A design approach is presented combing the Wabi Sabi philosophy that promotes the celebration of decay and damage. This is used as one of the design principles for the experiments conducted on discarded products. Through constant user interaction before, during and after the experiments the evaluation of design as an agent of transformation is done. The user conducted the evaluation based on the Kansei elements of looks, sound, smell, and feel of the product. The experiments confirmed that a long-term value is only achieved through redesigning and reconstructing the perception of people towards products on a reflective level, rather than the visceral and behavioural elements of the product. The research found attachment to the visceral and behavioural elements of a product instead of an emotional one was causing users to discard products faster than required. The research indicated that many people, including designers and manufacturers, are unconsciously focusing on usability (behavioural level) and physical look (visceral level) of a product that are easily replaced, than on a meaningful way (reflective level) to create and maintain long-lasting emotions. The research concluded with a proposition towards digitization of products which could perhaps be an all round solution to make products more appropriate to human emotions. Digitization could give products the ability to capture, store and then communicate the stories, journey and memories back, in order to empower people to understand the value of longer-term use of products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1068
JournalChinese Journal of Mechanical Engineering
Issue number5
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


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