DESIGN DATA MACHINE


Are there any commonalities in the meaning that we perceive in designed objects and how can we collect data about these?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; our individual experiences, tastes and even personalities can affect the way in which we perceive art and design. The DesignData project is a collection of tools and methodologies that can help us understand and quantify these more abstract communicative aspects of the design properties of objects. When attempting to understand these very subjective fields, a lot of data is required. Traditional design user studies are very time intensive, for both the participants and the researchers, and while this method can give us great in-depth qualitative feedback on the design stimuli being tested, it is hard to gather the large amount of data needed to form any generalisable conclusions in this very subjective field of design perception. The DesignData machine is a tool to automate this design perception user study process. Building on research carried out in the EmotiveModeler project that looked into how we could ‘decode’ our emotive perception of forms, the DesignData tool allows researchers to automatically present study participants with A/B comparisons of physical design samples and quickly collect large sets of data about their perception of different design attributes. Accompanying this, Perceptive Personality was an online survey that attempted to understand how our personality traits e.g. Openness to experience, emotional intelligence, learning styles etc, may affect our preferences for different design styles.

METHODS: literature review, tool development, rough prototyping, electro-mechanical prototyping, survey design

TECHNOLOGIES: Arduino, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/PremierPro, laser cutting, CNC machining, electronics development,


Design Data machine working prototype
Design Data machine mechanism
Potential to use the physical reels for forms as well as material samples



A selection of the images with a range of visual modificiations e.g. contrast, sharpness, hue etc, used in the Perceptive Personality survey


A project developed with Bianca Datta at the MIT Media Lab (2015-16)