Our approach

The Institute of Positive Design initiates and stimulates the development of knowledge that supports designers in their attempts to design for human flourishing.

Positive psychology
Social scientists have recently started to develop a body of knowledge on the positive spectrum of human affect and cognition. Researchers working in the ‘positive psychology paradigm’ have explored questions such as: what are the conditions for humans to flourish?; what are the determinants of well-being?; what are the effects of different emotions on well-being?; how can people increase their happiness?; what are the effects of well-being on health and behavior? We will use resulting knowledge, clarifying principles of positive emotion and well-being, as a general source of inspiration for designers, and as the basis for developing systematic approaches to design for human flourishing.

Our approach is to explore how this available knowledge can be implemented in design processes. We aim to develop applied knowledge, tools, and techniques that enable and support design practitioners in well-being-driven design. In addition, these results will be used to develop design education; to increase the abilities of design students to actively pursue the goal of contributing to the flourishing of their products’ users.
Our approach combines scientific values with design values: we aim to uncover universal human principles in the relationship between design and human flourishing, using positivist methods, in a way that supports and inspires (rather than confuses and limits) designers. We do not claim to have the ability to ‘unravel the magic of design’ but believe in the inspirational value of studying this magic, the aim provides structure and a clear direction for our research activities.

The Institute of Positive Design will conduct the following activities to initiate and stimulate the development of knowledge that supports designers in their attempts to design for human flourishing:

– Initiate and conduct scientific research that aims to understand the (possible) effects of design on positive emotions, rich experiences, well-being, and human flourishing
– Develop and test educational programs that teach design students to ‘design for well-being’
– Disseminate knowledge and educational programs through (scientific) publications
– Create a network of partners, involving academia, design industry, and industry that develops and markets (product and service) design. Stimulate cooperations and knowledge sharing within this network.
– Initiate and support design oriented research projects that explore the possibilities of well-being-driven design
– Stimulate similar research initiatives and general discussion by organizing events such as seminars, workshops, and conferences.
– Facilitate international guest (scientific and/or design) researchers