A comparison of function- and affordance-based design

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Function-based design is the traditional approach in engineering design theory, proving useful and practical in many cases but showing limitations in others. Affordance-based design is an alternative approach that attempts to address some of function theory's limitations by focusing attention on the interactions between systems. This paper compares function-based design with affordance-based design by examining their philosophies, tools, abilities, and suitability along a number of dimensions. We conclude that the approaches are compatible and suggest future work to realize their integration. Copyright © 2013 by ASME.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference