The aesthetic judgment of an artifact is usually interpreted as an assessment of the artifact's sensory properties. But an artifact can also be appreciated, and still aesthetically, for the way it fulfills its purpose. Existing design theory does not provide the concepts required for describing this aspect of aesthetic appreciation and so cannot fully explain what people mean when they say a product is beautiful. In this paper, we develop an understanding of the aesthetic judgment based on the principle of maximum effect for minimum means. We explain how a means–effect relationship can be established between a product and its purpose or effect, and how the product and the effect can be perceived to be minimal and maximal. We also explain how the appreciation of this relationship depends on a set of assumed alternatives for both the product or means and the effect. Finally, we provide some directions for future research into design aesthetics.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.