Aesthetic Pleasure in Design









The beauty of balance - An empirical integration of the Unified Model of Aesthetics for product design

Michaël Berghman, Paul Hekkert

TU Delft, the Netherlands

Keywords: design aesthetics; Unified Model of Aesthetics; safety and accomplishment needs; aesthetic principles


The Unified Model of Aesthetics provides a comprehensive theory on aesthetics of product design. It posits that aesthetic appreciation derives from the reconciliation of the needs for safety and accomplishment, which manifests itself through the principles of unity-in-variety, most-advanced-yet-acceptable and autonomous-yet-connected. The present study considers the empirical integration of these principles, using a survey that scrutinizes aesthetic preferences of 300 respondents for 20 products. The principles are scrutinized separately, after which we conduct an integrated test to examine their combined effect and relative importance for aesthetic appreciation. We find that the perceptual qualities of unity and variety strongly affect aesthetic appreciation, but the typicality of a design becomes of little importance when taking into account perceptual and social measures.

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Michaël Berghman, M. and Hekkert, P. (2016). The Beauty of Balance - An Empirical Integration of the Unified Model of Aesthetics for Product Design. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

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