VOL: 8  NO: 2  103-121  2011-2


Product semantics meets the user: A design workshop with a fresh look to an old paradigm



Hümanur BAĞLI

Istanbul Technical University Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul, TURKEY


Received: December 2010         Final Acceptance: June 2011



The article is about how Product Semantics, as an old paradigm of design, can be reevaluated to have a broader look to include a user-centered approach. In this attempt, a workshop held in ITU, Department of Industrial Design was taken to exemplify the potentials of this new approach.

The main focus of this paper is to test the possible extensions of the seven semantic categorization of Burnette (1995) and see how “useful” it is in order first to analyze the users’ connection with their material world; and second, ideate the data gained from this analysis into more concrete design concepts. This was tested in an educational exercise as a controlled practice.

This paper presents a small workshop performed together with graduate students of Industrial Design in Istanbul Technical University to see how those possible extensions of methods or approaches can reach the desires, wants, and perspectives of user by using only the main categories that Burnette presented years ago. This exercise tries to transfer an old paradigm of design, Product Semantics, into a new and fresh one with a new look to the users, how they see their material world and how a designer can extract new clues about design with an approach similar to design ethnography.


Keywords:  Design, product semantics, user-centered design, design education.


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