¶ Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism describes the creation of an object or design that contains elements that hearken back to attributes or structures of some other material or technique.

Some examples include:

  • An electric light fashioned to look like a candle holder, with light bulbs that resemble candle flames
  • A plastic container stylized or painted to look like it is made of a natural material, like wood
  • A digital music app with an interface designed to look like an analog stereo system
  • A computer's desktop and folder structure, modeled after a physical desk and filing cabinet

Skeuomorphism can help create affordances that help us learn about or understand how to interact with or use a novel object. However, skeuomorphism can also constrain our understanding of the possibilities afforded to us by new technologies.



Norman, Donald. “Affordances and Design.” Jnd.Org (blog), November 17, 2008. https://jnd.org/affordances_and_design/.