Message in a Bottle: The use of intermediary objects to convey future emotional intentions during a multi-disciplinary design project

Arno Verhoeven, Claudia Eckert

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In this paper we describe a recent design research investigation, highlighting
ways in which a designer attempts to communicate to others their intentions regarding users’ emotional responses to future artefacts through the use of intermediary objects during design activity. We follow the interactions of a jewellery designer engaged in a project in partnership with an electrical engineer, a software developer, and museum curators. The overall design goal is to create an aesthetically desirable electronic object for use in a specific museum context, allowing the generation of personalized labels. This paper embraces an ethnomethodological approach to uncover ways the jewellery designer attempts to translate an intended emotional state (appeal and desire) towards the designed artefact in the future context, through intermediary objects, which are interpreted differently by different people across the trajectory of design activity. The use of intermediary objects
during sociotechnical interactions in engineering design activity is well documented (Vinck and Jeantet, 1995, Boujut and Blanco, 2003, Eckert and Boujut, 2003) but our research suggests more work is required to understand the role that these types of devices play in intending and interpreting future emotional content, which is seen as a significant goal within product design disciplines. We discuss the concept of difference, and how it is managed during design activity involving various actors and actants, leading towards a better understanding of intention and interpretation during design.
Keywords: design activity, design process, affective design, design intention, designer
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2014
EventKEER 2014 - University of Linkoping, Linkoping, Sweden
Duration: 11 Jun 201413 Jun 2014


ConferenceKEER 2014


  • design process
  • affective design
  • design activity
  • design interaction
  • design intention


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  • KEER 2014

    Arno Verhoeven (Participant)

    13 Jun 2014

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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