In week 4 of my Sustainable Journey, we further explored empathic design in regards to sustainability. For this week’s discussion and class activities, I was asked to read Niimimaki and Koskinen’s article entitled I Love this Dress, It Makes Me Feel Beautiful! Empathic Knowledge in Sustainable Design as well as the article Design Probes by Tuuli Mattelmaki. While I was reading, I noticed a large theme that was interconnected between the articles and our class activities: emotion. Emotion is a large driving force for empathic design and it allows users to place attachment to certain products. The degree in which emotion is placed on a product is a determining factor of whether or not that product will be durable according to the user. In Niimimaki and Koskinen’s study on empathic design, emotional value is seen as crucial to users in response to the products that they place value on. Attachment to clothing is also driven by emotions, and one of the ideas that came from the study was that clothing in and of itself has a strong impact on our emotions.
I personally found Niimimaki and Koskinen’s study on empathic design extremely interesting, especially when I read about the reasons why one feels attachment to garments. Not only are we attached to garments because of the way that they look, but we are also attached to garments because of the “beauty experiences” that develop over time in our life experiences. After I read over this, it had finally hit me that I understood the reason why I am so emotionally attached to some of the items in my closet, such as the black lace dress that I wore to my sorority’s initiation ceremony, and not others. One of the reasons that I am so attached to some garments and not others is based on the positive experiences that I had with specific garments.
I really felt the importance of emotional value in products when I had done the Design Probes packages this week for class. According to Mattelmaki, a probe is an automatic recording instrument sent out to capture signals and samples from places that where human researchers can’t go and the package can be used to document thoughts, attitudes, dreams, and moods of a person. For a portion of the package, I was asked to document my mood when I woke up for each of the two days that I had decided to do the package during the week. After I reviewed my probes package, I had realized that my outfit choices for both days were reflected upon my mood when I woke up for that particular day. From this, I believe that emotions have a large impact on our garment choices.
I really enjoyed learning more about empathic design this week and I think that I am the most excited to learn about how empathic design can be used in the production of garments in order to increase their product life.