This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Design Guidelines for the Application of Product Semantics




Johnson, Trevor

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Industrial and Graphic Design


This paper features a comprehensive review of the concepts and procedures of product semantics, as well as a historical account of how this field of study has evolved, from an observation of signs and symbols to a larger study of how meaning relates to man-made objects. Product semantics is the “study of the symbolic qualities of forms in the context of their use and the application of this knowledge to industrial design” (Krippendorff, 1984, p. 4). This paper will discuss the concepts and ideas of product semantics and will review other related knowledge and procedures that fall within the realm of this field of study. This paper shows that current procedures for the application of product semantics in industrial design is lacking and requires a synthesis of ideas and methods to create a more simplified and effective design tool for designers. This thesis features a combination and reorder of product semantics, as well as additions through observation and understanding of this field. The guidelines presented are then illustrated through the use of a design project in order to show its application as a design tool.