Learning Portfolio 1- Question 2: Examples

Q2) Study 3 examples (e.g. products found in everyday surroundings) that meet the aesthetic‐usability effect principle. Provide a reasoned explanation for each item why they meet the design principle.

japan cell phone aesthetic
Typical example of a decorated cell phone (casanooah, 2010).

Especially in Japan, there is a huge cell phone- decoration aesthetic. The cuter it is, the higher the selling point. While simply buying cell phone covers gives that an aesthetic property, they take it to the next level. Sure, it may just by a simple flip phone, which many of us do not use nowadays thanks to touch screen phones, but the whole aesthetic of the decoration with sequins and roses helps to divert your attention from ‘it’s only a flip phone, no one uses these nowadays,’ to something like ‘look how much thought went into decorating this phone!’. And as clearly stated in the article, Aesthetic- Usability Effect (Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J., 2003) the aesthetic elements of the cheerful decorations distracts you from the fact that these particular phones do have a lot of inconveniences.

Stacking Pyrex (Nikki, 2012).

For a lot of people, cooking everyday can seem like a bit of a chore. But what if the cooking utensils suddenly became cute, with many different kinds of happy, cheerful and pastel designs? Obviously this design aesthetic is more aimed at females, but I know for sure that if I owned one of these, I would find cooking—and the thought of having to cook tonight’s dinner—a whole lot more enjoyable. Finding things with good design aesthetic can instantly improve our moods, and at times, can even build a sort of relationship between the item. After all, do you want that boring, plain old metal casserole dish, or the one that has lots of different (and far more attractive on the eye) patterns? Doesn’t the one with the prettier design look so much easier to use? Or is that the design aesthetic playing here…

LEMONADE SIGN (Typo, 2015).

As a student who has more than a dozen textbooks, there’s something about the design aesthetic of textbooks and stationary that is so important to me—and I’m sure many other students will agree. While plain, boring supermarket textbooks may be cheap, the slightly more expensive textbooks have more design aesthetic—and for some reason play a big part in motivation for study, note taking or doing homework and assignments. Plain textbooks may have the same usability; in fact, more often than not they’re the cheaper option, but textbooks with more design aesthetic look a lot nicer to use—if you’ve gotten excitement from a textbook, then that probably means that you’ve been drawn in by its aesthetic.


Casanooah. (2010). Typical example of a decorated cell phone. Retrieved from                    http://casanooah.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/cell-phones.html

LEMONADE SIGN. (2015). Retrieved from http://cottonon.com/AU/p/typo/a4-collegiate-notebook/2013626617987.html#start=97&sz=48

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18‐19). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Stacking Pyrex. (2012). Retrieved from http://pyrexcollective.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/stacking-pyrex.html


Learning portfolio 1- Question 1: Summary

Q1) in your own words, write a summary of the article and provide critical analysis/discussion on the topic of the article.

Many companies use aesthetic as one of their main selling points. For some people, if a particular item doesn’t work even though it looks pretty, it can be forgiven, literally just based on the aesthetic fact. The article, Aesthetic- Usability Effect, asserts that aesthetic designs give off an illusion of convenience, and that the consumers would unconsciously pick an item with aesthetic value over one that doesn’t seem to have any at all. The more aesthetic value an item has, the more it influences a positive behaviour.

Companies use aesthetic as a way to distract consumers from the fact that the item probably does have its own faults. As stated in Aesthetic Experience ( Shusterman & Tomlin, 2008), there exists aesthetic pleasure; an illusion of aesthetic value, aesthetic property; where the item itself has aesthetic value, and aesthetic attitude; where the item has some kind of imagine-based aesthetic value.

Furthermore, as written in The Aesthetic Unconscious, “it designates a mode of thought that develops with respect to things of art…” ( Ranciere & Keates, 2009). Aesthetics may hold an artistic value, which could also influence our perception of preferable design. Aesthetics can not only influence what item you think works better based on a design point of view, it can also simply change our mood from stressed to calm, or unmotivated to inspired.

For example, as established by Garr Reynolds, Zen aesthetic, based in Japan, has numerous different kinds of aesthetic specifically for calming down and de-stressing, all in the form of art and gardening—mostly representing elements like elimination of clutter, naturalness, and tranquillity—all of these as an aesthetic from a Japanese garden (Reynolds, 2009). In fact, aesthetic can even influence and motivate students to learn just by the aesthetic of building design, as Ulla Kjærvang states, “The conception of aesthetic is not only about looking in a specific way but it is also about how the building appeals to senses of the body and our emotional life.”( Kjærvang, 2006). Even adding that if you improve the buildings appeal, problematic things within a school ground such as bullying decrease.

The power of aesthetic is strong, and is constantly influencing our own conscience.


Kjærvang, U. (2006, November 21). Power of Aesthetics to Improve Student Learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.designshare.com/index.php/articles/aesthetics-and-learning/

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic‐Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18‐19). Massachusetts: Rockport. Nikki. (2012).

Ranciere, J. & Swenson, J. (2009). The Aesthetic Unconscious. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Reynolds, G. (2009, September 7). 7 Japanese aesthetic principles to change your thinking [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2009/09/exposing-ourselves-to-traditional-japanese-aesthetic-ideas-notions-that-may-seem-quite-foreign-to-most-of-us-is-a-goo.html

Shusterman, R. & Tomlin, A. (2008). Aesthetic Experience. New York, NY: Routledge. Typo. (2015).