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Contour Bias Design Principle

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Grace Kang

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of Contour Bias Design Principle

What is Contour Bias?
Contour bias is a tendency to favor contoured objects overs sharp angled or pointed objects. When we look at the natural world around us we see many contours and curves such as the surrounding environment around us, including our own appearances.
It's a natural process!

Contour bias is something that
we naturally recognize and use everyday but usually unconsciously

For instance, when parents see their child playing with scissors it is their natural reaction to take it away because the pointed edges could harm the child. As humans, we have an innate tendency to favor contoured objects, which is why we need to understand how to create designs that the audience will prefer and respond more positively to.
While most chairs are designed in an upright position at a 90-degree angle, this egg chair has been customized so that we can isolate themselves in a sofa-like home theater sound experience.
Take A Look At This
It's Our Instinct!
Look At This Egg Chair
Contour Bias Principle
It All Hardboils
Down To This
Ultimately, the design of the chair promotes comfort and tranquility. This effective design is appealing because the curved structure is more inviting than sitting in a regular chair. It is important we recognize how the contoured design is able to bring us comfort and stimulate a state of relaxation, something we do not often associate with an ordinary chair.
It's aMAZEing What You Can Do!
More importantly, this land artwork embodies the reason why people favor contoured designs because it gives us a sense of comfort and ease. The labyrinth invites its walkers to appreciate nature while relieving their stresses of daily life. All of this is achieved not only by creating the trail as a part of the environment but also by strategically designing the trail to appeal to our natural senses. It's a clever design!
Sharp and pointed objects can be used to cut, leading to a subconscious processing of fear because these objects can be potential threats to us physically. Softer curves are not seen as a threat so they are preferred. As designers,
we have to consider how we can utilize our designs to cater to the target audience.

But WHY?
Contour bias is not limited to product designs but can be incorporated in landscape or architectural designs. This trail implements contours in the landscape design but also highlights the purpose behind a labyrinth, a walking meditation path used to calm the mind and relax the body.
Think of road signs; they are designed to inform us. The diamond-like design is intended to warn us of potential danger that could occur. Road signs are designed to instantly grab our attention; thus, utilizing an angular design is practical and beneficial in this case.
On the other hand, this does not mean designers should make everything rounded; in fact, angular and pointy objects can be used to provoke thought and capture our attention.
As designers, it is important to learn about the ideas of contour bias in order to influence the audience through your design. When we are creating an object or a website sharp edges can work, but we must consider the fact that viewers prefer natural looking rounded corners because it softens the design and becomes more visually appealing. Rounded features can enhance your design!

Why Care?
Lets take a look at Apple products. Everything they design has curved contours on the hardware and the software. Seeing that users prefer and respond more positively to contoured objects, Apple is guaranteeing we feel comfortable when using their products.
Apple Is Doing It Right!
It's Not All About Contours!
We can implement this principle to consider using contoured forms that make positive impressions and convey a friendly and positive tone. Conversely, we can recognize when it might be more appropriate to use angular and sharp shapes to attract attention or to provoke an instant reaction. It all depends on the purpose/message and audience!
It Just Feels Right!
Overall, these ideas can be applied to all kinds of design, whether graphic design, product design or architectural design. It is important that we understand how we want to create and direct our designs to the audience so we can help them receive the appropriate message and in a visually appealing manner.

Sometimes it is just about making something feel right.
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