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Form & Formlessness 

Questioning aesthetic abstractions through  art projects, cross-disciplinary studies and product design education


By Cheryl Akner/Koler

PhD thesis


Form & Formlessness documents experimental research in applied aesthetics in the field of art & design as well as cross-disciplinary projects. This richly illustrated thesis presents a system of aesthetic abstractions, as well methods and models that both support and question the normative concept of beauty. The thesis has high relevance for teaching 3-D formgiving aesthetics and “research by design”-methodologies.


Download the entire thesis: Form_& Formlessness. pdf

Download the Thesis coat pages 1-77.pdf


Part 1: A taxonomy of 3-D form is presented through 98 visualization models. The taxonomy was developed through an educational method   engaging industrial design students in  the development of concepts and terminology.  


Paper I  pages 79-93.pdf

Akner-Koler, Cheryl 

Expanding the boundaries of form theory. Developing the model Evolution of Form. 


Paper II pages 95-165 .pdf

Akner-Koler, Cheryl 

Three dimensional visual analysis. 

Part 2:  The art-based part of the thesis challenges the abstract aesthetic reasoning in part 1 through the author’s own explorative, sculptural work in distortion, transparency and material breakdown as well as through collaborative projects with physicists. An expanded version of the Evolution of Form-model is presented. 


Pp III Twist, blur pr.doc 

Akner-Koler, Cheryl

Twisting, blurring and dissolving the hard edges of constructivism. 

Work/ Paper IV   

Akner-Koler, Cheryl and Bergström, Lars and Yamdagni, Narendra and Hulth, P.O. 

Infinity, exhibition and program. 

Paper V pages 171-185.pdf

Akner-Koler, Cheryl and Bergström, Lars

Complex curvatures in form theory and string theory

VI challenging .pdf 

Akner-Koler, Cheryl 

Challenging and expanding the model Evolution of Form 



Part 3: The cross-disciplinary approach further develops and questions the results of the first two parts. Collaborative experiments on the theme “Complexity and transformation” were conducted by artists, physicists and designers. From these experiments several models were developed dealing with aesthetic expressions of change in materials over time. 


Paper VII .pdf

Akner-Koler, Cheryl 

Unfolding the aesthetics of complexity











Contextualizing aesthetic reasoning through a laboration on dendritic growth. Generating and regenerating aesthetic concepts through cross-disciplinary studies. 



Akner-Koler, Cheryl and Billger, Monica and Dyrssen, Catharina 

Cross-disciplinary study in complexity and transformation: Transforming aesthetics.  


Work/Paper X

Akner-Koler, Cheryl (project leader and producer) and Norberg, Björn (co-producer)



In conclusion the thesis claims the value of combining abstract reasoning with embodied aesthetic practice, within and beyond the fields of art and design. 

PhD. Thesis

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