What do YOU think about this car? : perception and meaning of automotive design in New Zealand and Taiwan : a thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Design at College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
This investigation examines the relationship between perception and meaning on automotive exterior designs in New Zealand and Taiwan. The Visual Product Experience framework [Warell, 2007] categorises perception and meaning Impression, Recognition, Appreciation, Association and Comprehension. This study uses the VPE framework to examine the perception and meaning of the specific car models from BMW and Lexus in two markets. It did so through the collection of qualitative data from questionnaires conducted through a semi-structured interview, with a total of 60 participants in automotive-related events in both New Zealand and Taiwan. The background of this project was established through the secondary research that explored a wide range of topics including the theoretical knowledge review, characteristics of the markets and design philosophies of the car brands. Through these researches, the differences in the market characteristics and design focuses of the brand BMW and Lexus are verified. The findings indicate that the BMW 320i has strong visual impression on consumers in both markets with regard to aesthetics and identity. This strong visual impression was attributed by the overall coherent visual composition of the 320i. The design features of the Lexus IS250 were more recognised by Taiwan consumers than New Zealand consumers. The visual features designed to express and describe on both cars were perceived consistently by consumers in both market. Interestingly, the Lexus Arrowhead motif was not recognised as an overall visual appearance, but as individual details. However, the grille of the Lexus as not consistently indicated as a signifier of the Lexus brand. This was in contrast to the BMW 'Kidney Grille', which was consistently recognised as a BMW signifier. The results of this study were consistent with the findings of the literature review. This is evident because the participants from Taiwan strongly associate the cars with their values in society. Between the two markets, differences in interpretation of the design features is apparent, Taiwan consumers appreciates smaller details more than New Zealand consumers. The VPE framework is proven to be a highly comprehensive model in this research project. This is because it allows categorisations and hence an inclusive understanding on the design intents and analysis on the 320i/IS250 both in the secondary and primary research design and analysis.