Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

Part-Worth Utilities of Gestalt Principles for Product Esthetics: A Case Study of a Bottle Silhouette

[+] Author and Article Information
Ambrosio Valencia-Romero

Human Centered Design Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez Campus,
Mayagüez, PR 00681-9000
e-mail: ambrosiode.valencia@upr.edu

José E. Lugo

Human Centered Design Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez Campus,
Mayagüez, PR 00681-9000
e-mail: jose.lugo2@upr.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received March 14, 2016; final manuscript received May 17, 2016; published online June 20, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Harrison M. Kim.

J. Mech. Des 138(8), 081102 (Jun 20, 2016) (9 pages) Paper No: MD-16-1207; doi: 10.1115/1.4033664 History: Received March 14, 2016; Revised May 17, 2016

Reaching a balance between product form and function is one of the main challenges of design teams. When users make choices among products with similar functionality and price, esthetics becomes a decisive factor, and understanding how they are perceived through the product form can allow designers to create new designs with more appealing shapes. Gestalt principles explain how subjects group elements of a shape and devise them as a whole, and recent research has proposed their quantification for evaluation of esthetics. This work examines a previous methodology to quantify Gestalt principles of 2D product representations, in particular, expressions to measure the principles of symmetry, parallelism, and continuity are applied to parameterized forms, with a generic bottle silhouette as case study. First, the representation is divided into key atomistic elements, which are generated through cubic Bézier curves. Then, the quantifications of symmetry, parallelism, and continuity, in conjunction with gradient-based optimization, are used on these forms to generate bottle silhouettes with combinations of high and low levels of each principle. The resulting designs were submitted to a discrete choice study in which respondents selected the bottle silhouettes they found more appealing. The preference data were analyzed with both fixed and random coefficients multinomial logistic regression (mixed logit) to determine the part-worth utility of each Gestalt principle over esthetic preferences. In conclusion, the results show differences in the utility estimates of symmetry, parallelism, and continuity, and implications for designers are discussed.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Quantification of Gestalt principles of symmetry, parallelism, and continuity in 2D (a) Symmetry (Eq. (1)), (b) parallelism (Eq. (2)), (c) continuity (knots, Eq. (3)), and (d) continuity (curve, Eq. (4))

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Cubic Bézier curve with control (anchor and handle) points and convex hull

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Generic bottle silhouette constructed with cubic Bézier curves

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Quantification of symmetry, parallelism, and continuity of a bottle silhouette

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Generation of bottle silhouettes with different levels of Gestalt

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

High and low levels of Gestalt of the final bottle silhouettes

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Sample page of the esthetic preference survey




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