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Master Proposal | Implementing Customisation Techniques as a Method of Creating Emotionally Valuable and Sustainable Products

Master Proposal | Implementing Customisation Techniques as a Method of Creating Emotionally Valuable and Sustainable Products


Sat. 29.05.2021 | 11:30

Student: Therry Goldgabe

Supervisors: Prof. Dominik Schumacher
                      Dr. Sandra Maria Geschke

Zoom: Meeting-ID: 873-9286-3094


As recent developments have shown, we are currently living through an incredibly challenging period of history. 
After only a few centuries of industrialisation, the planet is undergoing rapid changes, which in turn are leading to unimaginable damages to the entire ecosystem. Each scenario of the future seems hopeless and filled with uncertainties, leading to ever rising depression and anxiety within our society (Bunz, 2016, 35).

And while a change in awareness of our personal environmental impact has taken place, living within a consumerist society entails a constant craving for newer, better and more exciting products.
 Under these circumstances, acting sustainable oftentimes feels like a tiresome chore, in which creating long lasting improvements in our own personal behaviour is neither rewarding nor motivating.

However, to succeed in becoming more environmentally conscious as a society it is crucial to create a rewarding and motivating experience. As positive emotions generally lead to better decision making and a higher willingness to help altruistic causes (Lewis et al. 2008, 558), it is an important phenomenon to take info account in terms of sustainable behaviour.

One approach that can be taken towards sustainability is creating and encouraging the emotional bond that occurs between humans and inanimate objects. These bonds form naturally trough several different mechanisms and can be adopted to rethink our need for consumption in a positive manner.

Lead Question

How can an emotional bond towards objects create long lasting improvements in sustainable behaviour?

Interpreting the research question stated above necessitates looking into several key aspects. Primarily, gaining an understanding how and why humans form emotional bonds with objects is essential to use the phenomenon effectively. This includes the negative aspects of it to ensure to be aware of how to avoid them. As there is an additional key focus on longevity, techniques to induce this also need to be explored further, both for the emotional bond between human and object and in the design process itself. Getting a deeper insight into sustainability and specifically the impact of designers is unquestionably another aspect of further inquiry, prior to formulating the goal and upcoming stages of the thesis.



The name “Shikake” was coined by author and designer Matsumura (2020) and can roughly be translated into “to produce something in line with a goal”. As a design method it is focused around result-based, human-centred approaches and combining several key aspects of other design principles. By breaking down large scale problems into many personal choices that can be made by an individual, Shikake is inherently positive in its implementation and the design results are often enjoyable and motivating. Shikake can be broken down to three basic fundamentals: fairness, attractiveness and duality of purpose. Fairness describes one the key values, as Shikake ought not to be used to disadvantage any user. Attractiveness is the principle that action of the user should be by their own motivation, neither forced or completed unwillingly. Lastly, duality of purpose formulates that the designer of the Shikake, by trying to solve a certain problem, follows a different goal than the user, who’s reason action can be manifold.

There’s multiple ways of approaching design with shikake, categorised in the two main groups of psychological and physical triggers each with their own subcategories.


To continuously evaluate the process, further development will deviate between creative and analytical phases regularly.

Currently, preliminary studies are being conducted with a wide target group, investigating specific preferences and aversions in terms of sustainability and customisation. Furthermore field experts in psychology and sustainability are interviewed and integrated into the course of the development, to ensure the theoretical validity as well as practical success. In correspondence to this, concepts will be generated and tested in real life scenarios to integrate users and receive instant assessment. After proportionate iterative loops the end result will be finalised and implemented in the appropriate environment. To ensure long term success of the project, reevaluation and consistent communication with the user will be maintained after completion.


Ein Projekt von


Master Interaktion Design

Art des Projekts



Prof. Dominik Schumacher Dr. Sandra Maria Geschke

Zugehöriger Workspace

MID: Master Colloquium I MA Thesis


SoSe 21 – WiSe 21 / 22


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