Emotional Design with Purpose: Bridging Theories of Product Experience


Emotional Design is a known topic of discussion and research in the field of Product Design. It derives from the study of the experience of emotion and of product experience. This exploratory paper aims to establish a bridge between the experience of emotion as described by Donald. A. Norman, and the Golden Circle theory as proposed by Simon Sinek. The three Emotional Design Levels which Norman identifies as the levels on which people develop emotions with an object, are: Visceral (first perceptions), Behavioral (practical and functional aspects) and Reflective (the user’s overal perception and reflections of use of a product). The Golden Circle theory of ‘Start with Why’ as proposed by Simon Sinek, explains the What (what is it you design or present), the How (how was it made or produced), and the Why (the motivation behind what you do, by analysing how organisations or leaders inspire action (literally or for the impulse of buying a product). Sinek explores these three dimensions by looking at how leaders and companies present their products and way of working to prospective users. It is our perception that the two approaches could meet on common ground, strengthening and supporting one another. Other authors’s standpoints regarding emotional design will be reviewed, to broaden our research. The purpose of this analysis and review is the creation of a relatable framework on which designers could rely when first responding to a brief or at the onset of a project.


Cristina Lousada Soares
Professor, Design Department, Polytechnic of Porto - ESMAD (Escola Superior de Media Artes e Design), Porto, Portugal

Marta Fernandes
Adjunct Professor at the Superior School of Media Arts and Design, Polytechnic of Oporto, Design Department, ESMAD - P.Porto, Portugal


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Emotional Design, Product Experience, Product Design, User Experience, Golden Circle

Digital Media

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