Loughborough University
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Exploring art therapy techniques within service design as a means to greater home life happiness

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posted on 2018-05-08, 15:39 authored by Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh
This thesis presents new theories and creative techniques for exploring ‘designing for home happiness’. Set in the context of a primarily unsustainable and unhappy world, home is understood as a facilitator of current lifestyle practices that could also support long-term happiness activities, shown to promote more sustainable behaviour. It has yet to be examined extensively from a happiness perspective and many homes lack opportunities for meaningful endeavours. Service Design, an approach that supports positive interactions, shows potential in facilitating ‘designing for home happiness’ but its tools are generally employed for visualising new systems/services or issues within existing ones instead of exploring related subjectivity. Art therapy techniques, historically used for expressing felt experiences, present applicable methods for investigating such subjective moments and shaping design opportunities for home happiness but have yet to be trialled in a design research context. This thesis therefore explores how Art Therapy and Service Design can be used successfully for ‘designing for home happiness’. A first study proposes photo elicitation as a creative method to explore, with participants from UK family households, several significant home happiness needs. Subsequently, art therapy techniques are proposed in Study 2 through two bespoke Happy-Home Workshops. This gives way to the Home Happiness Theory and Designing for Home Happiness Theory, which enable designers to design for home happiness. The Designing for Home Happiness Framework emerges from these studies proposing a new design creative method delivered through a workshop with specialised design tools and accompanying process for creating home happiness designs (i.e. services, product-service-systems). Through two Main Studies the framework is tested and validated with design experts in two different contexts, Loughborough (UK) and Limerick (Ireland), confirming its suitability and transferability in ‘designing for home happiness’. Resulting concepts support collective home happiness and social innovations by facilitating appropriate social contexts for their development. Overall, this research is the first to combine art therapy techniques with service design methods, offering original theories and approaches for ‘designing for home happiness’ within Service Design and for social innovation. Collectively, this research delivers new creative methods for service designers, social innovators and designers more generally to investigate and support happier experiences within and outside the home for a more sustainable future.


Loughborough University, Service Design Mini-Centre for Doctoral Training.



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© Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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