Academic journal article International Journal of Design

The Influence of Product Exposure on Trendiness and Aesthetic Appraisal

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

The Influence of Product Exposure on Trendiness and Aesthetic Appraisal

Article excerpt


People often use the product attribute 'trendiness' to describe product designs (Blijlevens, Creusen, & Schoormans, 2009; Creusen & Schoormans, 2005). More importantly, when people perceive a product as trendy, they will aesthetically appraise it more positively (Creusen & Schoormans, 2005; Hsu, Chuang, & Chang, 2000). Thus, in order to create product designs that are positively aesthetically appraised, designers need to know what trendiness means in the eyes of the consumers and what combination of physical properties can be used to make a product design look trendy. Although trendiness is conceptually well defined, it is difficult to define in terms of physical design properties (Hung & Chen, 2012). This research contributes to the literature by investigating why trendiness is difficult to translate into physical properties of product designs. We argue and show that a product design's trendiness is based on people's previous exposure to product designs in the market. Designers should therefore take into account the physical properties of the products on the market within a specific product category and market to design products that are perceived as trendy and thus aesthetically appealing.


Several researchers have investigated the product attribute trendiness from the viewpoint of consumers. Trendiness is often described by people with similar words such as trendy, modern, contemporary, avant-garde, and young (Creusen & Schoormans, 2005; Hsiao & Cheng, 2006). Based on these findings, Hsiao and Cheng (2006) suggested that trendiness might be a result of what is currently in vogue. Clearly, trendiness is closely related to the notion of "prevailing styles and fashion" (Bloch, 1995). Accordingly, we define trendiness as an attribute of product designs that deals with the degree to which the product design follows the up-to-date styles and fashion in the market.

Trendiness is closely related to novelty. However, it should be noted that trendiness and novelty of a product design are not the same constructs. Recent research shows that trendiness (traditional?trendy/modern) is only one of the three dimensions that influence the novelty of a product design. Next to trendiness, the dimensions emotion (rational?emotional) and complexity (simple?complex) also influence novelty (Hung & Chen, 2012). The three dimensions each have their own contribution to the perception of novelty. Trendiness, emotion, and complexity all had linear relationships with novelty. Next to that, a linear relationship between trendiness and aesthetic appraisal was found, whereas novelty had a curvilinear relationship with aesthetic appraisal (Hung & Chen, 2012). People, thus interpret trendiness and novelty as conceptually different. Emotion and complexity both have curvilinear relationships with aesthetic appraisal. This means that when product designs increase in complexity and emotion, they are more aesthetically pleasing, but only up to a certain point, because too much complexity or emotion is less aesthetically pleasing. The contribution of these latter two dimensions to the construct of novelty provides an explanation for why novelty has a curvilinear relationship with aesthetic appraisal. Summarizing, we can thus conclude that trendiness is conceptually and empirically distinct from novelty.

Designing Trendy Products

From the literature, we know how to define trendiness conceptually. However, for designers, attributes, such as trendiness, are more actionable when they know what physical properties of product designs should be changed in order to make a product design look trendy. It is often assumed that designers are highly capable of using their intuition and creative instincts when designing products to convey certain intended product attributes, such as trendiness. However, designers and laymen may in some cases differ in their perception of product designs (Blijlevens et al. …

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