The Unified Model of Aesthetics provides a comprehensive theory on aesthetics of product design. It posits that aesthetic appreciation derives from the reconciliation of the needs for safety and accomplishment, which manifests itself through the principles of unity-­‐in-­‐variety, most-­‐advanced-­‐yet-­‐acceptable and autonomous-­‐yet-­‐connected. The present study considers the empirical integration of these principles, using a survey that scrutinizes aesthetic preferences of 300 respondents for 20 products. The principles are scrutinized separately, after which we conduct an integrated test to examine their combined effect and relative importance for aesthetic appreciation. We find that the perceptual qualities of unity and variety strongly affect aesthetic appreciation, but the typicality of a design becomes of little importance when taking into account perceptual and social measures.

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Design Research Society – 50th Anniversary Conference
Delft University of Technology

Berghman, M.J, & Hekkert, P.P.M. (2016). The beauty of balance – an empirical integration of the unified model of aesthetics for product design. Presented at the Design Research Society – 50th Anniversary Conference. Retrieved from