Designing positive experience for wellbeing

Establishing a product development process based on current trends in science, strategy and society.

Author Henning Köhler

Society is going through a refreshing change. Where once was a culture of automation and consumption, we see a shift: From material possesions to positive experiences. We are embracing this change. In fact, we saw it coming. We have been making this evolution the touchstone of our product development process, by developing future-focused methods and solutions that are aligned with an emerging new ‘experience economy’. We call this new approach “Design for wellbeing”.

It is fuelled by an appreciation and desire for products and services which improve wellbeing. We all strive for wellbeing in some way; we want to feel close to those people and things that are important to us, to wield our abilities and engage with the world around us in more meaningful ways.

As designers, we want to facilitate this societal change, address it creatively and make it economically viable in order to sustainably increase wellbeing. So we asked ourselves how we could embody and capture these values. What parameters influence wellbeing? Can designers tap into these parameters to address them? How does this impact the design process? Are our existing methods, such as design thinking and user-centred design, able to accommodate this shifting paradigm?

Wellbeing as a starting point for design. Renewing the design thinking approach

Part of the solution was recognising that we couldn’t do this alone. We joined forces with the University of Siegen, the Happiness Research Organisation, and ixdp., a digital design agency. We presented our project to Leitmarkt Medien und Kreativwirtschaft NRW, an initiative to support creative industries in NRW (our region) and successfully launched a three-year project (

Through this Design for Wellbeing project, we will be leveraging research from our partners, including findings from the field of positive psychology, design and creative business. Using real-life case studies, we can begin to develop a positive-experience innovation process with wellbeing as the design goal. We will also be able to look at the economic advantages of wellbeing – translating these findings into sustainable business models to enhance the value proposition of products and services for start-ups and established organisations.

The result? We want to prepare creatives and companies to navigate the challenges and harness the opportunities of an experience economy. For designers like us, that means establishing a design process for the development of sustainable, positive experience innovation. For companies? With our Design for Wellbeing philosophy as a foundation, our capabilities as a creative design agency offer brands and organisations a competitive advantage that will help their products and services to enrich lives, wherever possible.