+ equals - -

June 17, 2013
Pieterdesmetposdesign news
Written by: Freya Ruijs

+ = - -

Many engineers will recognize this formula and state it as a mathematical law; something positive equals a double negative. Pretty straightforward and sound if you ask me. For me as a design engineer that would translate into taking away something negative, to create a positive design; which is also known as problem solving. An approach that is common in a lot of design education. But at the positive design day, they took a different point of view. They stated what I've known intuitively for a while now:

+ is not --

In other words, designing something positive does not necessarily have to solve a problem. It is much bigger. And here's why. When you think of words associated with positivity and happiness, you will probably think of something along the lines of empowerment, health, engaging, passion, family, friends, experiences, making & creating or contributing to something meaningful. It is here that products can make the biggest impact on a person. And part of that may be problem solving, but it is by no means a large part. So if all this could be supported & enabled by designers, why then do designers choose to take problems as a starting point for their designs?

Well, it is much easier. It is much easier  to design for a common problem than to design for happiness, which differs per person. With everyone reacting differently, emotionally, how can you shape the design space in which your design should fit?

Guiding Principles

According to Prof. Pieter Desmet, it is more simple than you might think. He says that emotional responses might differ per person, but follow universal principles. And though you cannot predict personal behavior, you can predict the lines along which the behavior will be. One of those universal principles is that emotions are almost always about someone or something.They are directed at i.e a person or an experience and do not exist on their own. If you know the situation, the person and the context, you can reverse engineer towards a design for emotion. And use your product design as an enabler to create an emotional and rich experience.

It is in this vision on design, where products are enablers for personal well-being that I see the services of JAM visual thinking.They are empowering, engaging and full of passion. And together we keep on working towards personal well-being; that of our clients and our own.

For the full seminar and inaugural lecture of Pieter Desmet, follow the link below.



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