The line model of form and emotion: perspectives on Western design

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This paper introduces a new model of form, emotion and semantics through a process of form abstraction utilising lines. Understanding the emotional and semantic value of form is a complex task and many theories have been developed. Analyzing the visual arts through line relationships and interactions is a conceptually novel approach and offers new avenues for advancing studies in form theory, theories of emotion and perception, and design generally. By examining literature in visual perception, form theory, emotion, historically analyzing changes in form through the aesthetic arts and reducing these aesthetic elements into basic linear foundations, we present the Line Model of Form and Emotion. This preliminary model sets out form at its structurally most abstract, simplifying three dimensionally defined shapes into line relationships and visualizing their emotive and semantic associations for human observers. The model also visualizes the historical changes in form and emotional and semantic meaning across time, from the 18th century through to the present day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27—66
Number of pages40
JournalHuman Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2018


  • form theory
  • design emotion
  • aesthetics
  • semantics


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