Function Is More Important Than Aesthetic In Enhancing The Consumer Satisfaction With Chair Design.

Chairs basically are invented as a place to be seated on and support body weight without breaking. In particular, if the chair cannot support person’s weight, as a consequence, it fails to meet its function (Garrett, 2010). In an illustration, Steve Jobs is communally known in believing that design is basically how it works, but not only how it looks and feels like (Gassmann, 2010: 26-27). An example of how essential is providing the basic need, which is having body support, for the purchaser is the contemporary G-chair, shown in figure 1. The merit in being visually appealing and elegant is to function as a sculpture, where in contrast it has limitations to meet the sufficient function due to the slippery material and the diagonal setting base.  Chairs characteristics, in general, are widely known in providing the body support and comfort, especially being adjustable, in order to prevent back strains, which can result from sitting in one position for too long (Wilhide, 2010). Therefore, the consumer’s basic needs can be met with a satisfied chair design. In order to attempt higher levels of the consumer’s need, Lidwell, Holden and Butler in 2010 adapted The Design Hierarchy of Need, as shown in figure 2, which is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of need (Maslow, 1943). The Pyramid’s foundation of the manipulated Hierarchy consists of the products functional feature: how the product needs to perform their intended purpose, where chairs, for example, must be able to function well in priority. However, according to Bradley’s argument (2010), these designs, which only meet basic needs, might have a minor value, nothing special. Therefore, Lidwell, Holden and Butler (2010) assert that the design should be able to fulfil the user’s creative needs; aesthetically pleasing while keeping its function. According to the Hierarchy, Chairs are expected to work consistently and be reliable, easy to understand and use, multifunctional with proficient and expanding the creativity to generate the highest level in the Hierarchy in order to obtain a satisfied design (Bradley, 2010). Designers have to specify and plan the primary needs first, they have to plan with a purpose. It means that considering the human’s ergonomics and basic function before thinking about applying different concepts, materials or colors (Little, 2014). This indicates that the majority of both aesthetic and function, in design is equal.


Figure 1: Contemporary, Aesthetic Chair Furniture G-Chair by Infinity Design Italy (Thau, 2o15: online)


Figure 2: The Design Heirarchy of Need (Lidwell, Holden, and Butler, 2010:online)



A different ethical perspective is suggested by Wikes (2010) which believed in the progression of design from considering functionality as an initial goal to perceiving the objects appearance. It is widely believed that Providing an aesthetically, visually appealing chair structure plays a profound role in influencing the consumer (Spiller,n.d.). Block (1995: 16-29) also believes that aesthetics may attract the consumer and in an association, increase the value and quality of the user’s experience. In agreement, Proaps (2016) found that enhancing the user’s experience is due to the visual appeal. On the contrary, Behrens (2002: 317-325) claims that evaluating and measuring the aesthetics utilized defers in term of “taste”, and it cannot be estimated. Moreover, it varies from the designer, the owner and the purchaser’s point of view. Each of them has different concerns, where the owners evaluate the design concept against the industrial aspects in term of cost. Their interest is based on the outcome, whereas the purchaser believes in the integration of the efficiency, being well appearing and to function based on the purpose and the characteristics (Warell, n.d.).


Elevating the aesthetics in design started from the ancient Greece and Rome, where they have established the principles of balance, harmony, and symmetry. Graceful form and ornamentation are established from the Greek’s furniture (ibid). Moderation use of ornaments can add positively to the piece of furniture in pleasing the appearance. One drawback of this is that intensive decorations and excessive ornaments, as it is shown in figure 3, will deteriorate the aesthetic value and increase the cost.  Ornaments and decorations are both perceived as a secondary factor in implementing the consumer’s satisfaction (Garrett, 2010). This is exemplified throughout the history of chair production, as it is shown in figure 4 below. It is clear that the interest on ornaments and wood carving decreases as the industry emergence in the period of Bauhaus School in the 20th century in Paris (Cahill, 2016). Therefore, exploiting new materials and techniques is discovered, to form the skeleton structure of the chairs. Simplicity, geometry, and functional Characteristics were born since the Bauhaus movement started. This is an indication that whilst in previous, consumers define a good chair design is sustainable reliable and essential, where it lasts forever without being broken, and the discrimination of function increases. Where in recent decades, the consumer satisfaction is represented on the consumer’s preference, to purchase a piece that is associated with features such as having textured material, enhance the desirable of purchasing; especially they desire to alter interior decorations every several years, which results in being aspirated to new ideas and desires. An advocate of that, IKEA’s orientation in polarizing varies kinds of different consumers, results in providing discriminate and embrace a variety of choices for the consumers. Therefore, it ends in achieving customer satisfaction and having an accessible price, design, and quality. As a consequence, from an aesthetic perspective, meeting the consumer’s sensory values and his certain needs arise from considering chairs as a complimentary from us. In other words, consumers, judge the products before purchasing in order to attribute not only the appearance in general but also test its comfort. From an economic perspective, Consumers are positioning themselves within the market price, compatible with the ability to purchase (Aurisicchio, 2011).


Figure 3: Hand Carved Custom Seating (Marr, Luxury beds and linens, 2016: online)


Figure 1: Contemporary, Aesthetic Chair Furniture G-Chair by Infinity Design Italy (Thau, 2o15: online)


The form follows function theory, which has been adapted from the famous architect Louis Sullivan, where it attempts to correct the functional bias towards the descriptive and prescription in beauty. It means that the way an object looks should be determined by its function (Bradley, 2010). Therefore, while sketching and drafting, thinking of the piece as a whole is considered first and then the customer’s needs, after that is applying the small details and finally considering the ergonomics and applying the function.  The Exceptional Chair is a good example of that, where the designer attempts to design an illusion piece wherein cognition it seems that it is unstable, but it functions well, as it is shown in figure 5. Although many writers have criticized this belief, by thinking that functional aspects are less subjective than the aesthetic aspects, and the criteria’s represented more objective than the alternative approaches (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2010: 106-107). A balanced integration between both function and aesthetic is required to serve the purpose of the design itself. Therefore, minimalist designs, where the phrase “less is more” being adopted to convey simple, elegant designs that profound function in priority (Bradley, 2010). In disagreement, Garrett (2010) thinks that complex designs can provide a unique and unusual piece of furniture, where it has to conflict the consumer in order to attract his attention, and because of that the value of the furniture increases. Zaha Hadid’s Serac bench in figure 6 , which was presented at The Officine Della Torneria in Milan 2013 , is a good illustration of how a complex design been constructed to integrate with the surrounding nature, where it forms an elegant piece of furniture. The concept behind it was fluid curve lines, from melting icebergs, which represents a focal point sculpture functions as a chair.

Figure 5: Exceptional Aesthetic Chair Design (Unknown, 2010: online)


Figure 6: Serac Bench By Zaha Hadid for Lab23 (Hadid, 2013: online)


To conclude, it has been demonstrated that there is a growing need to enhance the quality of the chair design industry, based on the consumer’s basic needs and considering a wide variety of consumers rather than perceiving the visual appearance alone. Therefore, although it was evident that aesthetics, through innovative designs, may attract the consumer’s attention to purchase, but on the other hand, they will increase the piece of furniture’s cost. As a reaction of that, complex design movement aims to create a unique piece of furniture which can exemplify as a focal point in the field of the internal spaces. The design hierarchy of need is an advocate of considering the consumer’s basic needs in priority, compared with the form follows function theory where it asserts on the aesthetic pleasant to be manipulated and then performing the intended purpose. The majority to be stylish but also having an affordable ability to purchase implicates on the designer’s consideration between aesthetics and functional aspects as they both play a profound role in enhancing the consumer’s satisfaction, especially with chair design.

Reference List
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Figures List
1.     Thau, J. (2010) Contemporary, Aesthetic Chair Furniture G-Chair by Infiniti Design Italy [Online image] [Accessed 16th August 2016] Available at <;
2.     Lidwell, Holden and Butler (2010) The Design Hierarchy of Need [Online image] [Accessed 16th August 2016] Available at <;
3.     Marr, Luxury beds and linens (2016) Hand carved custom seating [Online image] [Accessed 16th August 2016] Available at <;
4.     Cahill (2016) Furniture Design History Timetable [Online image] [Accessed 20th August 2016] Available at <;
5.     Unknown (2010) Exceptional Aesthetic Chair Design [Online image] [Accessed 16th August 2016] Available at <;
6.     Zaha Hadid (2013) Serac Bench by Zaha Hadid for Lab23 [Online image] [Accessed 20th August 2016] Available at <;




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