Semiotic Studies on Holistic Order in Product Design
Ahmed, Saleem S
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‘Holistic Order’ is a new term used in this study. In literature, its synonyms such as beauty, order, visual order, and aesthetic order have been in usage for a long time. Historical studies on arts & crafts from philosophical and aesthetic perspectives reveal that the term ‘beauty’ no longer holds the same meaning as it used to for centuries. ‘Holistic Order’ is the new term being proposed in place of ‘beauty’ in product design. It is argued that this term is more appropriate in present day context. Beauty has been a study of interest to philosophers, aestheticians, poets, artists, scientists, and the common man alike for time immemorial. Though the field of industrial design has been in existence since the industrial revolution in the early 20th century, the roots of this field originates from the time of Plato and Aristotle, more than 2400 years ago. In spite of this long history, there has not been a reliable tool / framework available to product designers, which they can rely on in their pursuit to designing products that are holistic i.e. able to please not only to the physical senses but also to the emotional and mental faculties. Studies in the history of arts & crafts and fundamentals of aesthetics from a new perspective have revealed a perceptible gap in the most widely used design approach. This research work is an attempt to fulfil that gap. Using semiotic and communication theory, existence of dichotomy in product design has been established. Based on this and the widely used elements and principles approach in product design, a new integrated conceptual framework for holistic order in product design has been proposed. It is argued that this framework is more suited to designing holistically than any of the available ones. The objective of this framework is to enable better understanding of the different aspects involved in the aesthetics of product design, their relationships, and the resulting attainments. Knowledge of this framework is useful to designers for designing products in a holistic manner. In the process, more attractive, appealing, and meaningful designs are enabled. Also, it is useful to design critics for identifying factors that are responsible for aesthetic qualities and values in product design. All the interdependent nature of relationships among various parts of the framework of holistic order have been explained. ‘Holistic Order Index’ is proposed as a new measure of design qualities in product design. The Framework of Holistic Order and Holistic Order Index have been validated through qualitative and quantitative methods in two studies, one involving 30 designers and another involving 108 subjects representing the society at large. In another study involving 32 subjects, reliability of the methodology has been established. Results of these studies have been discussed in the thesis and the contributions summarized.