An engineering approach to mapping meanings in products and services

Gregor Waltersdorfer, Kilian Gericke, Pieter Desmet, Lucienne T. M. Blessing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to explore how meanings in products and services can be captured, deconstructed, and finally structured, in order to facilitate the deliberate and intentional creation and conveyance of meanings to users and non-users. These analytical steps for mapping meanings are investigated in an empirical study using a qualitative approach and theoretically grounded in Peirce's triadic model of signs. This new methodology in design research seems promising to obtain a new perspective on meaning in products and services. Through the course of the empirical study, we developed a research method, which is also a design method, called MeaningMap, for organising and tructuring meanings. A first exploratory evaluation of the method with students showed its
comprehensibility and applicability for analysing and structuring meanings within a limited amount of time. We envision that the MeaningMap as a method for design as communication can support designers during task clarification in analysing the voice of customer, defining user group, specifying the intended
meanings, and deriving requirements to the communicative potential of products and services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED17)
Subtitle of host publicationProduct, Services and Systems Design
EditorsA. Maier, S. Škec, H. Kim, M. Kokkolaras, J. Oehmen, G. Fadel, F. Salustri, M. Van der Loos
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherThe Design Society
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-904670-91-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventICED17: 21st International Conference on Engineering Design - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)2220-4342




  • Design methods
  • Product-Service Systems (PSS)
  • User centred design
  • Meaning
  • Semiotics


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