An Exploration of the Relations between Functionality, Aesthetics and Creativity in Design

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Han, Ji; Forbes, Hannah; Schaefer, Dirk
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Liverpool
Section: Design creativity
DOI number:
ISSN: 2220-4342


Creativity is often said to play a vital role in the product design process, while functionality and aesthetics are considered key factors of actual products. Functionality refers to the performance of a product, and aesthetics represents the visual and ergonomic appeals of the product. However, there appears to be an elusive relation between creativity, functionality and aesthetics. This study explores how functionality, aesthetics and creativity are related to one another in design. Through exploring the definitions and assessments of creativity in design, this study reveals that novelty, usefulness and surprise are the three core elements of design creativity. A case study involving experts evaluating design samples in terms of novelty, usefulness, surprise, functionality, aesthetics and overall creativity is conducted. The results imply that there are no statistically significant relations between creativity, functionality, and aesthetics. Considering the three core elements of design creativity, the results indicate that creativity is only statistically significantly related to novelty. Moreover, our results suggest that creativity and novelty are measuring the same construct.

Keywords: Creativity, Early design phases, New product development, Functionality, Aesthetics


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