Previous works have suggested that the transition to a new technology lifecycle eventually will force producers to unleash a new wave of aesthetic innovation. However, we find that only some technology lifecycles show such pattern. We offer a theoretical model of aesthetic shifts capable of accounting for this variation. We find that producers pursue new aesthetic manifestations to align the evolutionary trajectory of their product category with recent cultural developments in society. Producers do this through categorical aspirations to other product categories. A technology lifecycle unleashes a wave of aesthetic innovation when new categorical aspirations reside latent within an industry. This occurs when producers realize that current aesthetics have failed to generate the desired market outcomes. However, the sole presence of a categorical aspiration does not lead to an aesthetic shift until technological changes offer producers opportunities to radically alter technological designs. When a technological discontinuity triggers an era of ferment, categorical aspirations are taken from their latency and enacted in aesthetic experimentation.