The research on the use of virtual reality (VR) in the design domain has been conducted in a fragmentary way so far, and some misalignments have emerged among scholars. In particular, the actual support of VR in early design phases and the diffusion of practices involving VR in creative design stages are argued. In the present paper, we reviewed VR applications in design and categorized each of the collected 86 sources into multiple classes. These range from supported design functions to employed VR technologies and the use of systems complementing VR. The identified design functions include not only design activities traditionally supported by VR, such as 3D modelling, virtual prototyping, and product evaluation, but also co-design and design education beyond the early design phases. The possibility to support early design phases by means of VR is mirrored by the attention on products that involve an emotional dimension beyond functional aspects, which are particularly focused on in virtual assemblies and prototypes. Relevant matches between VR technologies and specific design functions have been individuated, although a clear separation between VR devices and supported design tasks cannot be claimed.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited