Design Semiosis; Synthesis of Products in the Design Activity
Abstract: Products are designed by someone to be perceived by someone.Within the body of this thesis there can be found thespecification of a conceptualization, an ontology, thatreflects the idea engendered by this statement. Thespecification is built on the sense that design in general,product design in particular, is an act of semiosis and hencethe title of the thesis, Design Semiosis.The research is built on a tripartite problem area, whichis characterized by linguistic statementsaboutproduct designs, modelsofproduct designs and designers whotransform these statements into models. Theidentification of these three aspects has driven the selectionof the semiotics of Charles S. Peirce and the sign theories ofCharles W. Morris as the theoretical foundation for the resultspresented in the thesis. However, just as product design ismultidisciplinary, this thesis also integrates the additionalconcepts of perceptual knowledge and product properties in aneffort to develop a means ofspeakingabout the essence of design, the synthesis ofproducts.Traditional design research focuses on the analyticalacts in design, which reflect syntactic and semantic aspects ofcommunication. In contrast to this, Design Semoisisspecifically considers the act of synthesis in design andexplicitly retains a pragmatic aspect in a communication act;the designer who executes the design of a product that is to beperceived. The motivation for this approach is the need todescribe to student engineers "what design is", rememberingthat these students will someday participate in the commercialdevelopment and design of physical products.The results presented are based on two semiotic concepts,the description of a generic design-sign (the semiotic) and thesynthesis of these design signs (the semiosis). The semiotic ofa design sign is its triadic construction containing a vehiclefor the sign, a meaning for the sign and a sign engendered inthe mind of a designer. The semiosis is the creation of therelationships with the triadic sign as symbols, indexes andicons. Based on these two concepts a sign space can be derivedthat contains a spectrum of 10 semiotic levels ofcommunication. Using this specification, a number ofexplications of product design are presented that clarify theability of Design Semiosis to speak about the nature ofsynthesis in design.The outcome of this thesis is a designer-centeredperspective of the design activity where it is anindividualwho has aperceptionof aproductthat shall be created. The act ofcreation, performed by this individual is supported by avariety of different means ofobjectification,depending on the nature of thepropertyin theproductthat is of interest.Keywords:Synthesis, Product Design, QualityCreation, Semiotics, Perceptual Knowledge, Problem Solving,Designer
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