Vici grant for research into positive design for Professor Pieter Desmet

20 February 2017 by Webredactie Communication

Why do some products have a positive and others a negative influence on our mood? How can products and spaces be designed to actively contribute to a positive mood? NWO has awarded a Vici grant worth one and a half million euros to TU Delft professor Pieter Desmet to investigate these questions. The Vici is one of the largest personal scientific grants in the Netherlands. Recipients can spend the coming five years developing their own innovative research line.

Beds that make you happy

Can beds cheer up hospital patients? Can classrooms revitalise children? Can aeroplanes make travellers more relaxed? In general: how can a design support and stimulate a positive mood? This is the central question that drives the research of Professor Pieter Desmet of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft.

This question is very important for designers, because moods have a very strong influence on our physical health and well-being. Whether intentionally or not, all products, technologies and spaces influence our daily mood. ‘Up to now, far too little attention has been paid to the causes of moods in these human-design interactions. This is because design research traditionally focuses on the short-term emotions of the user, while ignoring long-term mood", says Desmet. 

Eight moods

In his Vici research, Desmet will be attempting to unravel the underlying mechanisms of mood experience in human-design interactions. ‘My intention is to develop a theory that explains how design can regulate different moods and how you can use that to increase people's well-being.’

‘Central to the theory is the claim that people can use designs to actively influence their moods. In everyday life we alter our mood by taking part in all kinds of activities, such as seeking distraction. I think that products and spaces can influence moods by facilitating such activities. My theory is the first that describes principles which can influence eight basic moods: in this case stimulating four positive moods (calm, relaxed, cheerful and enthusiastic) and reducing four negative moods (tense, irritated, gloomy and dull).’ 

Desmet predicts that influencing these eight basic moods will require different designs. He will be using three parallel projects to test this prediction (and others) using designs for the 'real world', such as healthcare, offices and aeroplanes.

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