About Design for Wellbeing

Desired state of being = wellbeing

In the spirit of other user-centered initiatives — such as Universal Design, Design for All and Inclusive Design — the Design for Wellbeing framework aims to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. However, the framework also offers an extension to the existing initiatives in the way that it does not merely focus on ”fixing” people by diminishing disabilities through the design of assistive, universal or inclusive technologies. Design for Wellbeing is a perspective on life quality and wellbeing that goes beyond the traditional scope of assistive technology in the sense that it aims to help people make a transformation from an actual state of being to a desired state of being — regardless of their ability level. Furthermore, companies working with product development will find that the Design for Wellbeing framework offers low-risk exploration of design concepts, carried out with youthful energy under expert guidance. The projects will help companies identify best practices in their processes, and compare these against best practices in other companies and industries. These practices are also folded into teaching at the partner universities, so that we better can train the next generation of designers/employees. Also, all participants are exposed to technologies supporting distributed collaborative design — providing crucial experiences in light of a global economy.

What is Design for Wellbeing?

  • Designing innovative products for increased wellbeing
  • Shaping the future of globally distributed collaboration
  • Educating the product designers of tomorrow

The main objective of the Design for Wellbeing initiative is to enhance the wellbeing of persons by using their descriptions of needs in relation to assistive devices, technology, or services, as a starting point for product development. We aim to give users an active role in developing their own solutions by allowing people from various disciplines to work with them in a product development team, all with the focus of improved wellbeing.

Design for Wellbeing redirects the focus of product development from technology-based development, via needs-based development, to participative product development and innovation.

Design for Wellbeing is carried out in the form of research projects, application studies and student projects, building on experiences from research and education projects. The courses are project-based and team-structured, and students work closely with corporate partners on real-world innovation projects. Design for Wellbeing is an ideal framework for collaboration across distance, disciplines and disabilities.

Designing innovative products for increased wellbeing.

Design for Wellbeing is a multidisciplinary project where several scientifi c disciplines are united in a common objective — to design innovative products that increase the wellbeing of persons regardless of ability level. The point of departure for the project is that we do not see a disability as a characteristic of a person; it is merely a description of the relationship between the person and the surrounding environment. In this context, society must be adapted to improve the wellbeing of individuals with impairments. Fundamentally, the concept of wellbeing involves increased participation in working life, sports, culture, leisure, recreation and entertainment – aspects of daily living and quality of life that too often are out of reach for people with disabilities. The engineering disciplines contribute with the expertise and knowledge needed to develop innovative products, while participants from health sciences, human work sciences and teacher education bring extensive knowledge about what it is like to live with a disability, how people with disabilities perceive and use their assistive devices, and what kind of learning processes that are involved in the introduction of new assistive devices. Design for Wellbeing gives users of assistive devices an opportunity to participate not only in needs analysis studies and prototype testing but also in conceptual phases and assessment of products in daily use in a long-term perspective.

Collaboration across distance, disciplines and disabilities

Design for Wellbeing is carried out in the form of student projects, building on experiences from creative project courses in engineering curricula at Stanford University, Luleå University of Technology, and Royal Institute of Technology. The courses are project-based and team-structured, and students work closely with corporate partners on real-world innovation projects. In Design for Wellbeing, the successful concept of these courses is redesigned to facilitate the participation of students and researchers from other disciplines than engineering and to achieve an active involvement of persons with disabilities. The projects are carried out both locally and globally since the Design for Wellbeing partnership includes organizations from Sweden, USA and Japan. Apart from the goal of increasing the wellbeing of persons with disabilities, the wellbeing projects aim to prepare participating students for innovative teamwork on a global arena, but also to provide researchers from various disciplines with a testbed within which new perspectives on product development, education and healthcare can emerge and be studied. The project provides an example of activities where students from different educational areas collaborate with researchers and external partners in multidisciplinary projects. Design for Wellbeing is an ideal project for collaboration across distance, disciplines and disabilities.