Scratching the Surface. "Appearance" as a Bridging Concept between Design Ontology and Design Aesthetics

Schneller, Annina (2018). Scratching the Surface. "Appearance" as a Bridging Concept between Design Ontology and Design Aesthetics In: Vermaas, Pieter E.; Vial, Stéphane (eds.) Advancements in the Philosophy of Design (pp. 33-49). Berlin: Springer

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What is design? Definitions range from design as a product or process of thinking, modelling or problem solving, to all-encompassing visions of design as the transformation of social environments. Some definitions of design stress the aspect of function, others the similarity with art. Even if we try to break down the definition to design objects in the sense of designed material artefacts such as chairs, books or buildings, defining their essential properties proves difficult. What is the special ingredient that makes an artefact a design object? Based on the philosophical method of conceptual analysis, the present chapter asserts that any definition of design objects necessarily includes their appearance. Since the creation of appearance and aesthetic experience is an essential task of design, the study of aesthetics should consider design among its paramount subjects. This argumentation leads to an astonishing conclusion for traditional philosophy: The philosophical divide between ontology and aesthetics is bridged when it comes to design objects.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research
Bern Academy of the Arts > HKB Continuing Education


Schneller, Annina;
Vermaas, Pieter E. and
Vial, Stéphane






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Date Deposited:

18 Dec 2019 08:35

Last Modified:

30 Nov 2020 15:38

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Design definition Design ontology Design aesthetics Appearance


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