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“My ambition as a designer is to make people happy.”

I want to make tangible spaces and experiences people love and care about. I appreciated how the framework discussed the patterns that exist that designers can use to deliberately influence experience, and more carefully calculate where most users will end up on the Figure 1. Circumplex model of core affect with product relevant emotions graph. My goal is to learn how to collect people’s needs, through observation, experience, and awareness, and create design solutions that keep them in the right hand realm of the spectrum.

The framework makes a statement that substantiates a few of my “what I’ve got” choices but also is at odds with others: “Govers and Mugge (2004) indicated that people become more attached to products with a personality that is similar to their own personality than to products with a dissimilar personality.” My “what I’ve got” choices certainly deal with personality, but I’d describe it as identity, and more specifically, the illusion of an ideal identity.

My first “what I’ve got” was a Tiffany engagement ring, which is a luxury item, and as mentioned in the framework, luxury items are associated with high quality, and also exclusivity. People desire a Tiffany ring so that their symbol of eternal love also is a symbol of their high quality personality. The engagement ring is interesting in relation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because the meaning of the ring may be in the Love/Belonging and even the Safety or Physiological tiers. However, consider the definition of self-actualization in “A primer on organizational behavior” by Bowditch, Buono, and Stewart: “Self-Actualization: once one’s ego needs become fully satisfied, the ideal of self-actualization essentially means that the individual focuses more on the needs and wellbeing of others rather than him or herself.” With this in mind, maybe the ring can be seen as a symbol of caring more about your partner’s life than your own. If this ring is at once a luxury item and fulfills every tier of the Maslow hierarchy, it is not surprising that it is desirable. However, as the framework mentions, it still depends on the relative emotions of the user—if the person proposes repulses you, the ring may not contain all of the identity and symbolically fulfill your needs like it would for a couple in love.

Going back to the idea of matching products to personality, or to an ideal identity, my “what I’ve got” choice of Whole Foods creates an organic, healthy identity that you can purchase and make your own. The framework brought up the following important point: “We all know from experience that an inherently pleasant product can block goal achievement, since something pleasant (like chocolate cake) can obstruct us in reaching a goal (trying to lose weight). The resulting experience combines both pleasant and unpleasant responses.” Whole foods recognizes the dual desire, or conflicting concern, for the chocolate cake and health, so they create desirable food that provides you the identity of health while fulfilling your desire for taste.

Another food related “what I’ve got” that the framework inspired is bread. The framework explains:  “Examples of dispositions are the preference for sweet and aversion for bitter tastes (Rozin & Fallon, 1987) and preferences for particular odours and for particular facial features and expressions. Such dispositions or universal aesthetic preferences have a clear evolutionary logic (see Hekkert & Leder, 2008) and can evolve as a result of interactions with our world. One can thus acquire an individual or culturally-shared taste for wines, particular fashion styles, social activities, etc.” When it comes to something like bread, I wonder what level my desire comes from. Do I desire it because of an evolutionary preference for sweet foods, or because of my culture, or because I’ve been manipulated by the companies that added sugar to the bread and now I’m addicted? It could even be further abstracted and ambiguous because I might associate eating bread with memories of childhood and family.

The SONOS “what I’ve got” is clearer in why it is desirable because there is a distinct “before” and “after” situation where the aesthetic experience increased usability and perceived luxury. The framework points out: “A product example to which many readers may be able to relate is a DVD recorder: a product that typically has many unused functionalities. Exactly what is the use of functionalities that are too complex for an average user to understand and operate?” The SONOS improved their overall desirability by clarifying and simplifying, ultimately increasing usability.

Challenge 0

The desirability in my Challenge 0 demonstrates the relativity that the framework brings up, because it is my being a Canadian that leads me to the cultural tendency of associating red and white with friendly Canada. The collection of Canadian colours induce happiness in me, while others may associate the colours differently, relative to their culture or mood, and have a very different reaction.

Challenge ½

The blow up mattress screen that converts to a bed and floatation device in Challenge ½ tries to be desirable by fulfilling many experiential needs. Since it does more than one thing, the user might attach more than one meaning, or it may elicit several emotions. It may not be a luxury item but it may become associated with pleasant memories.

Challenge 1

Lola and I wanted Life Story to be desirable to any two people that wanted to share an intimate experience together, whether it were friends, life partners, or strangers. The framework mentions “it is the interpretation of an event (or product), rather than the event itself, which causes the emotion.” This is relevant to our project, since the event, or the experience, is the person you are with, so it is about how you interpret your partner during your time together that determines your feelings, whether happy or sad, when you leave. Lola and I could have manipulated the space in such a way that it contributes to feelings of happiness and love, but this may be too distracting. For instance, the framework says that fascination comes with the tendency to explore, so if the two participants are fascinated by their surroundings, it may facilitate their fascination for one another or it may allow them to avoid the risk of being fascinated with one another and redirect their emotions, leading to an undesirable outcome. It is ultimately about the two people, so the spaces should reiterate that the focus is on the participants.

Challenge 2

Our show The Hardline is desirable because Amal is somebody you want to be, or be with. It is not about Amal trying to be younger, but rather, it is about her success not having to do anything with her age or her gender. Her intelligence, elegance, and sexuality are all desirable. She is exclusive, and if you share a personality trait with her, that gives you a layer of exclusivity as well. Yet you’re able to see Amal struggle with dual-desires, so you might feel better about your own dual desires, ultimately leaving the show happier than you were when you started.

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