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Syllabus for

Academic year
DAT155 - Aesthetics of interaction
Syllabus adopted 2010-02-24 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPIDE
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Computer Science and Engineering, Information Technology

Teaching language: English

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course
0108 Project 7,5c Grading: TH   7,5c    

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Univ lektor  Olof Torgersson

Course evaluation:

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For single subject courses within Chalmers programmes the same eligibility requirements apply, as to the programme(s) that the course is part of.

Course specific prerequisites

The courses TDA491 Graphical interfaces 7,5 hec, TDA496 Interaction design methodology 7,5 hec and TDA501 Interaction design project 15 hec or equivalent.
PhD students from disciplines related to Interaction Design are welcome.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

When we say "aesthetics of interaction" we are not referring to visual appearance only. Aesthetics of interaction is about all aspects of an artifact; not only how it looks but also how it behaves, interacts, feels, sounds etc.
Within interaction design there are a number of different aesthetic ideals. Many claim usability as their aesthetic ideal, but there are others too; some say that we should design for pleasure, others that we should design for play, others yet design to criticize whereas others advocate tangible interaction, or interaction that engages all senses. In this course we will look closer at the abovementioned ideals and discuss and practice how to design for them. After the course you should know the following:
- Be familiar with some aesthetic ideals and how they are applied in interaction design: Functionalism and Usability; Provocation and Criticism; Pragmatism and tangible experiences; Pleasure and Emotions; Playfulness, intrigue and challenge.
- Have a good knowledge of the qualities of interaction per se. e.g. interaction properties and different ways to view and denote interaction.
- Be able to consider and apply temporal aspects in a design.
- Be aware of how the interplay of expressions, interactions, functions and behaviors cooperate to create the gestalt of an artifact.
- Be able to analyze an interactive system or object and formulate its aesthetic characteristics.
- Be able to design an interactive system or object according to a certain aesthetic ideal.
- Be trained in basing your design decisions on an underlying aesthetic ideal, hereby also being able to discuss and motivate them.
- Be trained in giving and receiving constructive feedback on design of interaction aesthetics.
- Be familiar with the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk.
- Have formulated and motivated a first draft of your own aesthetic ideal.

To summarize: After the course you should have a clear idea of some aesthetic ideals and how to design according to them, giving a valid design rationale. You should also have formulated a first draft of your own aesthetic ideal. 


Content includes, but is not limited to:
- Overview of the history of aesthetics and industrial design
- Common aesthetic ideals within interaction design
- Different ways to describe interaction
- Gestalt, expressions and expression logic
- Interactive artifacts as Gesamtkunstwerke
- Temporal aspects of interaction design
- Analysis of various aesthetic aspects of an interactive system or object
- The connection between design objectives, design rationale and aesthetic design decisions


The course features both practical and theoretical parts, as well as work in groups and individual work. Lectures, literature and literature seminars give a theoretical foundation, which is immediately put into practice in a series of small exercises and one larger project. Focus is upon turning analysis and reflection into practical action. Focus is also on exchange of thoughts, feedback, designs and ideas. The course requires active participation; apart from work with the final project, participants will spend most of their study time at school, working in pairs or groups.


Probably a compendium, but see course home page to make sure.


The course is examined by means of exercises (pass only) and literature seminars (pass only), and an indivdidual design project + report (graded). Some of these parts are carried out individually, some in groups of varying sizes.

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.