“Emotional Design – Why we love or hate everyday things” by Donald Norman

This afternoon, I was looking for a book on animation when I came across my copy of Donald Norman’s book “EMOTIONAL DESIGN –  Why we love or hate everyday things” that I thought was lost or loaned out and not returned.

I cannot tell you how excited I was! I love this book and after spending the afternoon admiring the intersection of art and craft at the annual Smithsonian Craft Show, the book Emotional Design seems a fitting post for this week. Donald Norman in prior books such as the “Design of Everyday Things” examined the usability of designed objects. After receiving the critique that if you followed his principles your design may work well but look terrible, he set out on a new path that examined the role of beauty and emotion in design.

He came to discover the the emotional side to design may be more critical to a product’s success then the practical elements.

Practical elements would include:

  • Choice of Material
  • Manufacturing methods
  • Marketing of Product
  • Ease of use

Emotional elements include:

  • Visceral Design –  Appearance
  • Behavioral Design – pleasure and effective of use
  • Reflective Design – rationalization & intellectualization of product

These 3 elements interweave emotions and cognition and fuse with the design. Here is a great quote from the book.

” Emotions are inseparable from and a necessary part of cognition. Everything that we do, everything we think is tinged with emotion, much of it subconscious.  In turn, our emotions change the way we think and serve as constant guides to appropriate behavior, steering us away from the bad, guiding us toward the good.”

In addition to examining the interconnection between the success of product and it’s emotional side, he delves into the issue that if something looks good, we perceive it to work better than something that doesn’t have an attractive appearance.

This is a great book. If you are a designer or have an interest in design,  I recommend getting it and keeping it in your studio for reflection.

I’ve included a link to a TedTalk by Donald Norman: The three ways that good design can makes you happy

Have a good week!