Explorations on the relationship between happiness and sustainable design

2011-06-08T08:02:34Z (GMT) by M. Carolina Escobar-Tello
Through understanding the way in which design can contribute in a holistic way to sustainability, this thesis investigates and proposes the design methods, and characteristics of sustainable products, services or systems capable of contributing to our happiness, hence shaping and promoting society towards sustainable lifestyles. It presents the first indications of the relationship between Happiness and Sustainable Design. The review of a vast array of phenomena (Happiness, Sustainable Lifestyles/Society, Sustainable Product Design, Consumption Behaviour, and the emerging Role of the Designer), shed light on this relationship, as well as making evident the social gap that represents within sustainable design. This led to the development of an Initial Theory to bridge this gap, which then proposed the development of new design theories and tools and also a radical evolution of the design discipline. Preliminary Testing with sustainable design thinkers validated this theory and pointed out other interesting avenues in order to develop and test it further. Subsequently, through an exploratory and iterative approach, with the Initial Theory at the heart of the research, the Design for Happiness workshop framework emerged and took shape. Two pilot studies and a first study facilitated its planning, development and implementation, which ultimately led to a strong Design Process and Tool-Kit. In addition, two Main Studies confirmed its effectiveness and put forward a robust conceptual design outcome; the trials of which demonstrated its success and high potential to contribute to Happiness and Sustainable Lifestyles. Overall, the results and findings of this research demonstrated that material changes can take place without having to do without social networks which feed our happiness. The Design for Happiness workshop framework is a practical proposal that encourages multidisciplinary groups to reinterpret the relationship between objects and users, hence approaching design from a different perspective that results in innovative conceptual designs. Here, the designer becomes a process facilitator who shares design tools, encouraging participation in the construction of collective and integrated design visions and scenarios. Creativity and Sustainability are pivotal pillars of this proposal and its success is anchored in its capacity to deliver a collection of experiences that contribute to happiness through the way in which they require people to live in general. It also challenges the evolution of the Design discipline and its consequential theoretical development. The relationship between Design, Sustainability and Happiness is new territory. This research is the first on the subject of Sustainable Design and Happiness, therefore offering a groundbreaking opportunity for design, designers, and its practical applications.