Project UMA

Exploring the aesthetic pleasure that humans derive from designed artifacts

Project UMA seeks to define a Unified Model of Aesthetics. At its core, the model predicts that the aesthetic pleasure we gain from for designed artifacts arises out of a delicate balance between ranges of opposing forces. With key teams in Delft and Melbourne, an international and multidisciplinary team of researchers is devoting five years [2011-2016] to unraveling the mystery of aesthetic enjoyment. The model supports designers and industries that wish to make informed aesthetic decisions.

Project UMA is supported by MAGW VICI grant number 453-10-004 from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), awarded to Prof. Dr. Paul Hekkert. Five PhD candidates and a post-doctoral researcher are supported by grants made by Swinburne University of Technology.


Crossing disciplines to identify and articulate a profound understanding of aesthetic pleasure is a challenging task. The success of our work depends entirely on the collaborative efforts of specialists that come from several universities and a variety of academic backgrounds.


Core team

A  Delft University of Technology – Department of Industrial Design (Delft, the Netherlands)

B  Swinburne University of Technology – School of Design (Melbourne, Australia)

International partners

A  University of Cambridge – Department of Engineering (Cambridge, UK)

B  Folkwang University of the Arts – Department of Industrial Design (Essen, Germany)

C  University of Vienna – Department of Psychological Basic Research (Vienna, Austria)

D  National Taiwan University of Science and Technology – Department of Industrial and Commercial Design (Taipei, Taiwan)

E  Universidad EAFIT – School of Engineering (Medellín, Colombia)