Plural noun

  1. A set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty.
    1. The branch of philosophy which deals with questions of beauty and artistic taste.

Aesthetics is important to all design research projects at Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE), whether as an objective in itself, or as an aspect of a project that is open to questioning or criticism. Aesthetics is a system dealing with notions of beauty, taste, order and impact – it operates as a language. Something can be considered, and interpreted, as beautiful. Rather than beauty being an inherent aspect of the thing under consideration, such a judgement is determined inter-subjectively. Aesthetics is often a matter of cultural agreement between individuals belonging to a larger or smaller group. This agreement is not pre-determined, but rather, comes about over time between people sharing the same lifestyle or (professional) taste. At the same time, aesthetics may also be connected to classical ordering principles, such as the golden rule or the Fibonacci sequence – systems that produce outcomes which are perceived as aesthetically harmonious.

Aesthetics may be associated with beauty or high culture by many, but these are neither its origin, and nor its only domain. When the term aesthetics emerged, at the end of the 18th century, in the writing of German philosopher, Alexander Baumgarten, it was intended to give, “philosophical and scientific attention to sensory, corporeal experience,” which could well mean the very stuff of the everyday experience. (Highmore, 2002, p. 20).

At DAE, this sensory notion of aesthetics is addressed both as part of the design process and as part of the outcome of that process. The aesthetic experience is present in each design process and begins with observation – looking, touching, listening, smelling, and generally paying attention to things. No matter what the starting point or question concerned entails, if the succession of acts occurring during the design process has an inner logic, according to which the relation between content, context and form is taken into account, the outcome of the process will be aesthetic. The process takes time and concentration (a flow), whereas the aesthetics of the outcome could be experienced immediately.

DAE Examples

  • Hannah van Lutterveld, Playing with weapons, Graduationproject Man and Leisure, 2016

  • Merel Witteman, Aversive Aesthetics, Graduationproject Man and Leisure, 2013


  • Greif, M. (2017). Against everything. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Highmore, B. (Ed.). (2002). The Everyday Life Reader. London: Routledge.
  • Kant, I. (2008). Critique of Judgement (Translated by J. Creed Meredith). Oxford: Oxford University Press.