State of Happiness

A Systems Thinking led Design Inquiry

classroom project at NID / 2017

Working backward from the statement “Industrial Designers create value in people’s lives to make them happier”, the aim was to understand the meaning of ‘value’ and how to design for it. Perception, Happiness, and Human Emotion are topics often taken up by Psychologists and Behavioural Economists. This project was an attempt to explore how Design canlearn and contribute to this intangible and complex field.

Tools of qualitative data collection (interviews, focus group discussions, action research, observations were largely employed. Some were adapted from theories of Design for Behaviour Change, like Nudges, Cognitive Shocks, Provocations. Others were original experiments (use of Humour, Satire, Thrill, Introspection) in tool development.

People were the most crucial raw material! People coupled with context provided with the primary material of the project:- insights, experiences, and stories.

Experiments were conducted on ourselves as well as participants to understand their reactions to different tools. Each tool was put to test in the form of ourselves signing up for/ curating for someone else, a new experience. As a result we tried a plethora of controlled/ uncontrolled activities for eg. Meditation, Paying Forward/ Seva, Zorbing, Music performance/ recitals to investigate our hypotheses.

Our Methodology
The project was approached as an experiment so the methodology was not pre-set, it rather evolved over time. It was an experiential research project where the researchers took turn being participating/ non-participating observers and discoverers.

Primary Research through participatory experiences

Experiments in communication and meditation 
above, below- paper texting

The outputs of the project belonged to two main categories:
For Day to Day Application:
The SFH Toolkit

Aim: Providing nudges for action

This was a culmination of our research into a traditional designed output. The SFH Toolkit is a set of simple prompts to do activities that will help the user find their own happiness.
For Day to Day Implications:

Noah, a perspective providing device

Aim: Provoking thought and discussion
This was an attempt at continuing our research through our output.

Noah is a speculative product that functions on the unit thoughts. It collects data on how it’s user emotes and behaves in various situations and identifies patterns. It then talks to the user in stressful events, prompting the user to see the situation from different perspectives and tackle it calmly.

The Perception Glasses are artifacts, physical metaphors of the word ‘Perception’. The experience of wearing them is in itself reflective, and provokes the user to think if they’ve been wearing any kind of invisible glasses for
too long.

This map represents our understanding of how Perception is formed

This map interprets how our perception influences our happiness. That map uses the Buddhist metaphor of the mind being the elephant and the rider.

In conclusion, the project inferred that happiness is largely based on one’s own perception of the world.

Designers would have to help people seek their own happiness,
and not just ‘Happiness’.

made by Harshali Paralikar ©2020

harshali [dot] para [at] gmail [dot]com

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Bangalore/ Mumbai, India