Conceptualizing Aesthetics in Design: A Phenomenological Framework

  • Mads Nygaard Folkmann
Part of the Design Research Foundations book series (DERF)


The aim of this chapter is to introduce and discuss aesthetics as an approach to understand how design frames experience. In doing so, the chapter combines two philosophical interests in design, design phenomenology and design aesthetics, in order to promote a framework for discussing the impact of aesthetic meaning construction on experience. First, the chapter raises the phenomenological question of the relationship between design and experience, specifically, how design conditions experience. Second, in looking at aesthetics in terms of (a) the sensual appeal of design, (b) design objects as aesthetic media that frame modes of understanding, and (c) contextual factors, such as media, influencing what is regarded as aesthetic, it is the thesis of the chapter that a reflective concept of design aesthetics can be employed to differentiate between three different ways in which design frame our experience: We can look at sensual, conceptual, and contextual aesthetic dimensions of design and examine their contribution to the framing of experience, that is, how different dimensions of meaning articulation in design offer different framings of the experiences promoted by design objects and solutions. Further, the concept of aestheticization is introduced and discussed as the way in which objects are construed as ‘aesthetic’. A central insight is that the contextual aspect of aestheticization can promote a cultural construction of new conditions and new categories for the way we experience relevant meaning properties of design objects.


Design phenomenology Aesthetics Aestheticization Aesthetic categories 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Design and CommunicationUniversity of Southern DenmarkKoldingDenmark

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