User’s Affective Response to Furniture Design Based on Public Openness of Space

Illustration ⓒ 2017.  Yein Jo  All rights reserved.

While numerous researchers and current industry of furniture have emphasized functionality when planning and designing a single or a set of furniture, functionality alone cannot cover the entire context of furniture usage. It is important to consider the spatial context of furniture, because furniture greatly influences the overall atmosphere of the space where it is placed, which can be directly linked to users’ emotional aspect. With such significance, we narrowed down our focus on users’ affective responses to furniture design in our study.

Let’s talk about some reasons why we buy a product. Various reasons of purchasing a product. Likewise, when we buy a product, we mainly consider its features(shape, material, texture, color, etc.). However, even the features of the product match one’s standards, sometimes ‘space‘ intercepts one’s purchasing decision. Sometimes ‘space‘ does not allow us to buy a product because, have no enough room and/or break the overall mood. So, how do we approach to understand ‘space‘ in the process of purchasing products?

First, we came up with the idea that some kind of ‘context‘ is molded by various products that are placed in the space.

We can easily notice what these rooms are for. Even the same space can have different context based on the products placed.

People respond to the space/ product based on the spatial context.

This concept is ‘spatial context (Spatial context: covers how a product is in relation to its space.)

Everyone participated throughout the research process. During the research phase, I took charge in conducting expert interview and user interview. After that, I analysed data using a qualitative data analysis approach.

· Conducting expert interview

· Prepared and conducting user interview

· Coded and analyzed user interview data




May 20, 2017 – June 30, 2017

Jo, Y., Yim, J., Park, H., & Kang, Y. (2017, July). Users’ Affective Response to Furniture Design Based on Public Openness.

In International Conference on Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population (pp. 264-274). Springer, Cham.

Exploratory study’s purpose is discovering spatial context.

· Visit Hanssem furniture store

· Observe how users respond to spatial contexts

Factors that influence spatial context & user’s affective responses.

· Total of 4 experts (furniture designer)

· One-on-one expert interview

· Each about 1 hour

“Actually, the top selling item is a sofa, because people place a sofa in their living room, the place where they show to others.” (E02)

From exploratory study, we found ‘public openness’ concept.

Public openness: A level of accessibility of a space to the public.

The public includes friends, neighbors, strangers, and other individuals who are not residing in that space.

How a level of public openness is related to user’s affective response and preference to furniture design.

Main study’s purpose is revealing the relationship between the level of public openness and user’s affective responses to furniture design.

STEP 1. Selecting spaces & furniture items

· Select a bed and a sofa because   we believed that a bed is a relatively private item and a sofa is a relatively public item.

STEP 2. Recruiting participants & Conducting pilot interview

Recruit criteria

· People who have any experience of participating in the purchase process of a bed and a sofa within one year.

· People who clearly separate spaces of their living place regarding where to open and where close to others.

STEP 3. Conducting in-depth interview

· Total of 10 participants (3 males and 7 females).

· Each about 1 hour

All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed later. After all sessions were done, the data were analyzed using a qualitative data analysis approach.

· Transcribe each interview’s audio recording and then coded the transcripts and observations notes.

· Identify major themes and keywords from the text.

· Throughout the coding process, iteratively refine information.

· And then, elaborate on supporting evidence from the data through a deductive approach.

1. User have different perceptions on the level of public openness regarding spaces

→ Each individual defines the level of public openness of a space differently

“I give a tour of my living room to everyone. However, I never show my bedroom to anyone because it is a secret space for just my husband and I.” (P03)

“I show them both my living room and bedroom. I don’t refrain from showing my bedroom to people.” (P09)

→ The degree of public openness could change over time or due to altered environmental factors

“As my wife’s friends frequently visit our home, more and more people viewed and toured our bedroom. Since we opened up various spaces of our home to people, my thoughts on our bedroom being a private room for just my wife and I changed.” (P07)

2. User consider visual aesthetic attributes of furniture items important when placing them into a space with high level of public openness.

“We wanted to emphasize this is who we are! […] Anyone who look at it will think, it looks expensive! That is why we purchased this expensive cowhide couch. It looks luxurious because of the material, […] we chose grey tone because we wanted it to look fancy.” (P02)

“I redesigned my home interior into grand, classical style that shows our couple is still stylish. […] We bought luxurious-looking real leather couch made in Italy.” (P11)

3. Furniture items usually used as one’s self-expression equipment.

→ User use furniture items to present their desirable images to others.

→ Show one’s personal design sense and taste

“I really like antique furniture. […] I customized all wood materials and finishing touches to personalize. […] Neighbors often visit, and whenever they do, they compliment the furniture and ask where I got them from.” (P10)

→ Emphasize one’s social significance and recognition

“My husband is now retired after working as corporate executive, we still cannot lose our style. […] The concept of my living room furniture is luxury.” (P11)

4. When purchasing a furniture item for the space with low level of public openness, users tend to select the item based on its usablility

“Bedroom needs to be a space where I can comfortably rest, not bothered by anyone. […] It was important for the bed in the bedroom to have a comfortable-looking design. […] pastel colors rather than strong vivid colors. […] bed without leg parts.” (P04)

5. Users sometimes purchase furniture items that strongly reflect their personal design taste for a space with low level of public openness

“I slightly have a desire for princess-styled interior. […] When I lived alone, friends used to frequently visit me to keep me company. […] I don’t think anyone knows that I like princess-style. […] I think they might have judged me if I had princess style furniture. […] Recently, while I was preparing for wedding, I purchased a princess style ivory colored bed with long legs, and header with large curves […] I placed it in the biggest bed room for my new home.” (P01)

When it comes to plan and design for furniture items, considering potential spatial context should be followed.

In the process of evaluation and promotion of furniture it will be helpful if one considers its spatial context including the level of public openness.

Based on the level of public openness, practitioners can concrete their target user.

Personalized and tailored furniture design can be developed for users who want to purchase furniture items for spaces where the level of openness is low

3 Main contributions of our research

Found public openness as a novel factor that affects spatial context.

Confirmed that public openness influences user’s affective response to furniture design.

Examined details about how the level of public openness affects user’s affective response and preference to furniture design.