Companions for life – an exploration to the emotional dimensions of inanimate objects by Laura Meriluoto
This Master’s Thesis “Companions for life – an exploration to the emotional dimensions of inanimate objects” is a theory-driven study that consists of a written part and an artistic production.
The study revolves around my personal endeavour of finding a way to work in the creative field in a manner that would encourage people to live and consume more sustainably. Based on my studies in Aalto, I have come to realize that despite us humans being bio-psycho-social creatures, our education focuses mainly on fulfilling the physical requirements of human beings, in the process of designing objects. I have found this to be problematic, since I feel that one reason why people consume in an accelerating pace is the lack of emotional engagement they experience with the products they use. With this thesis, I seek to find ways to design objects so that people become emotionally attached to them, and consequently use them longer.
The thesis begins with a literature review that introduces theories behind human psychology and behavioral science to acknowledge the scientific factors that cause us to grow fond of inanimate objects. Through the examination of different theories, I seek to find answers on how I could more consciously consider the decisions that I make in my own creative process in order to create objects that do not only fulfill the user’s physical requirements, but also their emotional needs.
Based on the findings of the literature review, a set of engagement adding attributes is established. These attributes encapsulate and describe the aspects that affect the formation of emotional engagement that people experience with objects, and they are used as a framework in the production part of this thesis. Through the production of three different artifacts, I explore and demonstrate concrete ways in which the discovered attributes can be implemented into one’s own creative process.
The study shows how research on the formation of emotional attachment supports the design of long lasting human-product relationships. Furthermore, it aims to demonstrate how information from the fields of human psychology and behavioral science can be utilized in practice, when we want to design objects that evoke feelings of attachment. Above all, I wish that this thesis works as a source of inspiration for other designers to seek new ways for slowing down the cycles of consumption through design.