The emotional domain in product design

Deana C McDonagh, Cherie Lebbon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consumer products fulfil a variety of needs. Products do not exist to merely perform tasks, they satisfy other functional requirements. These include aspirations, cultural, social and emotional needs. There is currently interest in the emotional relationship between a product and its user. It is important that the designer can empathise with specific user groups in order for their designs to create this emotional relationship.

User-Centred Design is concerned with more than functional issues. Major manufacturing companies such as Sony, Philips and Apple Macintosh are already applying responsive design methods to meet perceived consumer needs. How is design education encouraging prospective designers to engage with User-Centred Design strategies and methodologies? How can such strategies and methodologies be incorporated into the curriculum to help students imbue a new product with qualities that implicitly reflect the emotional needs of the target consumer? This paper discusses soft design, and then examines some of the ways in which the undergraduate product design programmes at Loughborough and Staffordshire Universities are tackling this aspect of design studies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-43
JournalThe Design Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


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