Reflecting over my What I’ve Got posts along the course of the semester, I can see an unintentional but clear pattern. In the first couple of weeks, I focused my attention on tangible products. However, I didn’t maintain this focus for long, slowly shifting my attention to brands and platforms, and ultimately arriving at typography and typeface. What brought this trend to my attention were the three main categories Desmet and Hekkart engage in their Framework Product Experience: (1) the aesthetic experience, (2) the experience of meaning, and (3) the emotional experience. The abstraction of the experience in the two categories following the aesthetic experience mirror the gradual abstraction of my own posts. In this reflection, I will compare how my What I’ve Got posts fit into Desmet and Hekkert’s model of experience and what I, as a budding designer, can learn from this.
First we have the aesthetic experience. According to Desmet and Hekkert, this experience revolves around the “product’s capacity to delight one or more of our sensory modalities” (57). Looking back at my first three posts, I looked at an app with a colorful design and sleek lines, a style of notebooks with warm colored paper and rustic binding, and an innovative collapsable standing desk in a variety of wood options. These products left a strong aesthetic impression on me, inspiring to post about them. Now, what might that say about my taste? It would appear that I am attracted to warm-colored products, with rounded edges, curving lines, and an inherent simplicity — a product that speaks for itself but in a few words.
In my next batch of posts, I gradually departed from the concrete object and turned to the question of desirability in brand platforms, transitioning from focusing on what Desmet and Hekkert identify as the aesthetic experience and into the experience of meaning. According to Desmet and Hekkert, this level of experience focuses on our ability “to assess the personal or symbolic significance of products” (57). This approach mirrors the question that guided my exploration of Mike’s Hard Lemonade anti-drunk driving platform and Patagonia’s environmental platform, looking to answer, “What makes these brands desirable?” In these posts, I was interested in ‘brand identity’ and how it might work to attract customers. Ultimately, I believe customer attraction to brands begins (or can be strengthened) through the messages the brand promotes, which individuals want to align themselves with, and through exclusivity.
After first focusing on the product and then the brand liberated from all concrete products, I took another step toward abstraction, removing the words from their context and looking at typography. More specifically, I was interested in how decisions on typeface and hierarchy affect user experience. Due to my focus on the user’s reaction, the focus of these posts aligns with Desmet and Hekkert’s third level of experience, the emotional experience (61). I was interested in analyzing why certain decisions may fail (such as the typographical disaster at the Oscars this year) while others may succeed (like the typographical decisions that make the Neverending Story such an entertaining and immersive children’s book). I abstracted this a step further, looking at fonts more specifically, with one example of a revolutionary font (Futuracha Pro) and one example of quite the infamous font (Comic Sans).
In summary, I began by focusing on my own aesthetic experience, but figured out my aesthetic preference pretty quickly. I then transitioned into focusing on the “experience of meaning” and the “emotional experience,” my own but also considering the experience of other customers. I see these transitions as an evolutionary process into higher levels of abstraction. Connecting back to Desmet and Hekkert’s work, I enjoy thinking about the third of the Human-Product Interactions most: “non-physical interactions” an example of which is “to anticipate interaction (…) or to fantasize about interaction” or about a possible consequence of the interactions (58). I am interested in the aspects of design that many would overlook — a font, a layout, a message — untouchable aspects of design in the most literal sense which affect user experience on a fundamental level. My design perspective is perhaps less about answers and more about questions such as “why is this brand successful?” or “what is the effect of this typeface?” My emerging design ‘point of view’ is one which considers the details as seriously as the product itself. A product is only as good as its presentation, whether through brand, platform, or even typography. I end with a word to the teaching staff, I am curious to know if you have suggestions as to how I can extrude this interest from the two-dimensional designs we’ve been producing into the third-dimension and how it can be tied together to inform a collection such as the portfolio we’ll be composing.
Desmet, Pieter and Paul Hekkert. “Framework of Product Experience.” International Journal of Design 1, no.1 (2007): 57-66.