User-Material-Product Interrelationships in Attributing Meanings
Elvin Karana, Paul Hekkert


In selecting a material to create an intended product meaning, several factors, such as the material’s sensorial and technical properties, the product in which the material is embodied, and who the user is, may need to be taken into consideration. Each factor consists of a number of aspects (e.g., user covers aspects including gender, expertise, culture, etc.) with each playing a different role in attributing meaning to a particular material. The role that two product aspects (shape and function) and two user aspects (gender and culture) plays in attributing meaning to two materials, plastics and metal, is studied. The study demonstrates the contention that meanings of materials in a particular context are shaped by interactions of materials with aspects of products and users. On the other hand, the effect of a certain aspect (e.g., shape) may change depending on the meaning (e.g., feminine) aimed to be expressed. The results of the study, main effects and interactions are thoroughly discussed in this paper.

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