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What Do You Mean, 'Nice'?

“We say we are tired, moody or scared. When we talk about negative emotions we are very precise. With positive emotions, on the other hand, everything quickly becomes ‘nice’. Clients ask for a ‘nice’ design,” says Jay Yoon. But a designer does not know what to do with ‘nice’. He therefore designed a set of 25 cards with positive emotions. The cards facilitate the communication between designers and clients. What positive emotions does the client want, exactly? Designers can also use the cards for themselves. For example to find inspiration while creating a design that has to evoke one particular positive emotion.

Ingredients for happiness

It’s not the objects themselves that make you happy, it’s what you do with them. This is claimed by an important theory of happiness. So it is not about that pretty bicycle itself, but about the wind rushing through your hair, or beating your cycling buddies. Whoever wants to design for happiness should therefore not design an object but a meaningful activity. And the designer can use the following list of four items that people view as ‘meaningful’:

1. Developing talents and skills
2. Helping others
3. Having fun
4. Strengthening bonds with others

The videos show student projects for which students used the longer version of this short list of ingredients.


Delft Institute of Positive Design
Delft University of Technology
The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)


Delft University of Technology:
Ir. Jay Yoon, PhD researcher
Dr. Ing. A.E. Pohlmeyer, co-promotor
Prof. Dr. Ir. P.M.A. Desmet, promotor

Contact and Information

Jay Yoon
j.yoon [at] tudelft . nl

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