Design Semiosis: Synthesis Of Products
In The Design Activity
Lange, Mark W.
Institution: Kungliga Tekniska Hogskolan (
Publication: Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44,
Source: DAI, 63, no. 02C (2001): p. 336
Abstract: Products are designed by someone to be
perceived by someone.
Within the body of this thesis there can be found
the specification of a conceptualization, an ontology, that
reflects the idea engendered by this statement. The specification is built on
the sense that design in general, product design in particular, is an act of
semiosis and hence the title of the thesis, Design Semiosis.
research is built on a tripartite problem area, which is characterized by
linguistic statements about product designs, models of product designs and
designers who transform these statements into models. The identification of
these three aspects has driven the selection of the semiotics of Charles S.
Peirce and the sign theories of Charles W. Morris as the theoretical foundation
for the results presented in the thesis. However, just as product design is
multidisciplinary, this thesis also integrates the additional concepts of
perceptual knowledge and product properties in an effort to develop a means of
speaking about the essence of design, the synthesis of products.
design research focuses on the analytical acts in design, which reflect
syntactic and semantic aspects of communication. In contrast to this, Design
Semiosis specifically considers the act of synthesis in design and explicitly
retains a pragmatic aspect in a communication act; the designer who executes
the design of a product that is to be perceived. The motivation for this approach
is the need to describe to student engineers "what design is",
remembering that these students will someday participate in the commercial
development and design of physical products.
results presented are based on two semiotic concepts, the description of a
generic design-sign (the semiotic) and the synthesis of these design signs (the
semiosis). The semiotic of a design sign is its triadic construction containing
a vehicle for the sign, a meaning for the sign and a sign engendered in the
mind of a designer. The semiosis is the creation of the relationships with the triadic
sign as symbols, indexes and icons. Based on these two concepts a sign space
can be derived that contains a spectrum of 10 semiotic levels of communication.
Using this specification, a number of explications of product design are
presented that clarify the ability of Design Semiosis to speak about the nature
of synthesis in design.
outcome of this thesis is a designer-centered perspective of the design
activity where it is an individual who has a perception of a product that shall
be created. The act of creation, performed by this individual is supported by a
variety of different means of objectification, depending on the nature of the
property in the product that is of interest.
Descriptor: ENGINEERING, MECHANICAL