What we do

Can we deliberately design products and services that increase the well-being of individuals and communities?
This question fuels our institute. We strongly believe that it is our responsibility as design researchers to generate knowledge that enables designers to formulate effective strategies in contributing to the happiness of people. This knowledge should not only help designers in their attempts to deliberately design for meaningful product-user relationships but ultimately also to design products that contribute to a healthy society: to make the world a better place. That is why the DIOPD was established in 2011.

“To initiate and stimulate the development of knowledge that supports designers in their attempts to design for happiness, for human flourishing.”

Why we do this

Since the industrial revolution, all of our society – our workplaces, homes, transportation, and communication, have increasingly become infused with design. This impressive boost in material wealth did, however, not seem to result in an equal increase in subjective well-being. Research has shown that our dishwashers, computers, radios, cars, and other products we are surrounded with, do not make us particularly happy. This observation is, however, in strong contrast with the aspirations of many designers and design students: to make a positive contribution with their designs to the individual user, and to society in general.

Positive Design Manifest

Positive design is an umbrella term for all forms of design, design research, and design intention that pay explicit attention to the impact of design on the subjective well-being of individuals and communities.

Positive Design …

  • Creates possibilities
    Positive Design envisions and realizes optimistic futures. Rather than merely reducing people’s problems, it offers them opportunities to improve their well-being.
  • Fosters human flourishing
    Positive Design elevates people. It enables and inspires them to develop their talents, to deepen their relationships, and to contribute to their communities.
  • Enables meaningful activities
    Positive Design encourages people to balance pleasure and virtue. It stimulates people to engage in meaningful activities that express personal and social values.
  • Embraces human complexity
    Positive Design values the complete palette of human experiences. It acknowledges that both positive and negative emotions are part of a rich and profound life.
  • Accepts responsibility
    Positive Design explores its own goals and values. It takes responsibility for its short- and long-term impact on individuals, communities, and society.
  • Supports all stakeholders
    Positive Design considers the well-being of all stakeholders in the design process. It develops lasting conditions that support the flourishing of all members of a community.