A person using a laptop.

How should designers incorporate peoples’ psychological needs into the design process?

Research Project Name

The Designer's Toolkit for Psychological Well-Being

What We Did

We developed a toolkit to help designers, strategists, and clients understand and prioritize psychological well-being throughout the design process. This toolkit — comprised of collaborative activities, worksheets, and multisensory prompts — builds on three years of joint research with the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. We partnered with RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design to understand how employees can have better and more productive experiences in their workplaces.

This project occurred in three phases. In phase one, we conducted an extensive literature review and interviewed employees at four newly modified offices in and around London. In phase two, we guided an organization through a Participatory Design Project and evaluated how employees’ participation in the design of their workplace influenced their well-being. The findings from the first two phases enabled us to develop a “workplace well-being conceptual model” that demonstrates the need to balance an individual’s functional and psychological needs.

In phase three of the project, we identified six emotional states that are key components of psychological well-being: serenity, awe, recognition, influence, belonging, and stimulation. Because well-being is so subjective, with no standard formula that works for all, we set out to build a toolkit that would help designers and clients quickly understand and reflect upon those emotional states in relation to live projects.

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Phillip Tidd, Zsuzsi Nagy, Namrata Krishna, Emer Lynam

Year Completed