Pieter Desmet, Anna Pohlmeyer, and Jodi Forlizzi (Carnegie Mellon University) are acting as guest editors of a special issue on “Designing for Subjective Wellbeing” in the International Journal of Design. Full papers are due March 1st 2013.
Wellbeing, someone’s enduring life appreciation, is emerging as a prominent guiding principle for purposeful design. More and more designers find inspiration in the idea that they have the ability to wilfully transform conditions to stimulate the wellbeing of the people who engage with their designs. This growing interest can be observed in the lively discussions on topics such as empathic design, value-centred design, socially responsive design, meaningful design, positive design, and happiness-driven design. Although the variety of initiatives differs in approach and theoretical underpinnings, they all express an aspiration to explore how design can consciously contribute to the quality of life of individuals and communities.
The interest in wellbeing is certainly not new: reflections on the responsibility of designers to contribute to human flourishing can be found throughout the history of design discourse. However, the topic has regained urgency now that design has recently been embraced in several other disciplines as a golden opportunity for dealing with major societal challenges that require novel approaches. This development underlines a growing need for an optimistic and possibility-driven yet pragmatic and realistic perspective on the responsibility of designers. Therefore, we believe it is an ideal time to examine the relationship between design and subjective wellbeing.
Our focus is on the practical, scientific, economic, and ethical questions involved in wellbeing-driven design. For example: should we, and can we indeed generate the resources for people to interact with products, services, systems, and environments with the key intention to improve their wellbeing? If so, how? What knowledge of people and users is required, how can this knowledge be acquired, and how can it inspire and direct creative processes? What opportunities can be identified, and what are the main challenges? How can we assess the wellbeing impact of existing designs and new concepts? What business models are required to foster wellbeing-driven design? Our aim is to provide a platform to initiate and structure the dialogue on wellbeing-driven design. The overarching intention is to cultivate and encourage wellbeing-driven design and design research. We are seeking original papers that address both theoretical and/or practical issues of wellbeing-driven design.
Possible themes include, but are not limited to:
• Theory, principles, and frameworks for wellbeing-driven design;
• Tools, methods, approaches to wellbeing-driven design and the assessment of wellbeing impact of design;
• Ethical, social, cultural, and commercial implications of wellbeing-driven design.
Besides long papers, we also invite short papers presenting original design cases that illustrate opportunities and challenges of wellbeing-driven design.