Name, first nameJohannes BreuerYear of birth1993UniversityECALField of Interest / research fieldProduct / Object DesignTitle of projectFigures Of Speech - A manual for details in product designAbstractFigures of Speech - A manual for details in product design and ways to read them.

Abstract of the Preface

Products speak.

They are able to do it without talking, moving or actively doing anything which sets them apart from the digital world of software and interfaces.
But still they can transmit something - just by the way they have been designed.
They have their own analog, visual language.
Designing products that have the power to communicate something useful and positive to whoever is using them is the goal that makes this profession so
charmingly
challenging for me.

But what can products tell us through their design?
In many cases they can inform us what we can use them for and how to do it, what they are made of and how they have been produced, where they come from, wether they are expensive or cheap, wether they are new or old, hot or cold, rough or smooth, heavy or light etc. Products communicate something through the way the light reflects on their surfaces, through transparency and opaqueness, through signage and the use of color but most importantly : through their shape and
general appearance.
Even the slightest, most subtle change in the visual components of a product can completely flip the way we perceive it and what we might associate with it
on a meta-level.
Objects can also express many seemingly abstract things at the same time which in total make us like or resent them. I would like to define certain visual ingredients that can influence our perception as well as our opinion of a product.

Why do certain objects make us want to touch them; lift them up, feel their
surfaces and shapes with our hands? Is it solely something to indicate how they should be used or is there something more to it? There are certain visual details that immediately trigger feelings of e.g. stability or high value and others that make the user assume completely the opposite. Interesting to look at is wether all of these assumptions and associations are entirely subjective and which scientific findings could be applied to support these vague observations.

For instance I strongly believe that there is a link between e.g. the way we articulate - so write and speak - and the way products are designed. As people have investigated before in the fields of photography, advertising and graphic design I would like to unfold certain parallels between rhetoric principles of written or
spoken language and visual rhetoric principles of product design.
But this is only one way of many of trying to grasp the visual details of products and trying to decode their intention as well as their perception.
Certainly, the field of semantics and semiotics in product design is no blank page and has been widely investigated.
But this has often been done from a rather strictly scientific point of view.
Since I am not a psychologist or art-historian, nor a curator, critic or editor but a
Designer what I wanted to achieve with my work is to firstly analyze my own personal observations, feelings, associations and images related to the appearance of products, then compile them, find categories, find examples, describe what they communicate through their appearance and try to back my assumptions up with cold hard facts if I can.
But not everything that I show in this book will be scientifically proven or trying to be valid for everyone. I divide my observations in five different chapters, which will each have multiple sub-categories within and several product-examples with
pictures to make it understandable in a visual way:

I) INDICATORS (fig. 1)
II) BIRTHMARKS (fig. 2)
III) METAPHORS & SYMBOLS (fig. 3)
IV) EXPRESSION (fig. 4)
V) SPACE FOR INTERPRETATION (fig. 5)

The different chapters and categories also share connections and grey areas in between. One example can show details that are exhibiting observations for multiple chapters or categories.
The overall goal of this book is to summarize and categorize visual details in the details of objects while trying to decode what they communicate, how and why.
All of this written from my personal product designers point of view.
This can hopefully serve as an interesting impulse and as a source for inspiration for seeing, reading, questioning, understanding and maybe eventually even making shapes.
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