The theory of affordances has been adapted by the authors into a high-level approach to design known as affordance based design. One of the features that distinguishes the affordance based approach from function based approaches is that affordances are form dependent whereas functions are form independent. While delaying consideration of form can help maintain design freedom, considering the structure of multiple concept solutions early in the design process can preserve design freedom while allowing the designer to manipulate and refine concept structures and make prototypes early in the design process. In this paper we present a tool, the affordance-structure matrix, that aids the designer in mapping artifact structures to positive and negative affordances for the project. The affordance structure matrix can be used as an attention directing tool, focusing on the correlations within an individual concept architecture, or as a concept exploration tool, comparing the affordance-structure linkages across multiple concepts. The use of the affordance structure matrix is demonstrated using a case study examining two concept architectures for a household vacuum cleaner. The features of the affordance structure matrix are also contrasted with other existing matrix based tools for engineering design.

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