Joyful Design 06


The choice of color is a powerful practice, if we want to evoke specific emotions. Colors are rich in symbolic and cultural meanings and the expectations and emotions created by colors highly affect consumers experiences and therefore choices.

In addition to cultural specific meanings, color can also trigger responses that deeply come from our human psyche—color creates a sensory impression that reflects mood and emotion. Such as the experience of color climates can differ from clean and bright to muted and dark. The experience of color can be described as a combination of cultural context, narrative context and psychological effects. [1]

Psychological Effect Example: Wine Tasting
In a wine tasting study, participants used to describe the aromas of white wine by referring to pale or yellowish objects—lemon, grapefruit, melon, butter, pear… But, if the exactly same wine was colored red, participants described it mostly with terms referring to dark or red objects—hickory, cherry, tobacco, musk… [2] This example perfectly states, how color can directly manipulate our perception.

Cultural Context Example: Red [3]
Western Fairy Tales: Love, Sexual, Maturity; Greek Mythology: Mars, God of War; China and Japan: Love, Luck, Happiness; Shinto Religion: Life; Revolutionary Russia: Socialist State; United States: Republican Party; China, India, Nepal: Bridal Wear; National Flags: Blood; Germany, Poland, Russia: Fear, Jealousy; Korea: Love, Adventure, Good Taste; Worldwide Connotations: Fire, Coca Cola, Stop—do not enter (ISO Standards)

Colors can affect us regardless of their cultural connotations—however, if we want to design cultural universal we have to keep in mind that different colors can evoke different connotations/emotions and cultural background is one factor to consider.

The color of Joy

Due to this graphic, the color of joy, could be described as yellow [4]

The color of Happiness

However, the connotation of the feeling of happiness in regard to colors slightly differs between different cultural backgrounds. Western/American: Yellow; Hindu: Green; Asian/Chinese: Red; Native American: White

Even if color has different cultural meaning, scientific research suggests that in the absence of other cues, many responses are universal or widely shared amongst people.

As example: Orange, yellow and red make us feel alive and alert. Blue calms us down—this reactions may be rooted in our species quest for survive (this knowledge in turn connects to our joyful experience of rural landscapes—landscapes that where livable and therefore crucial environments for our survival). Also, we instinctively experience yellow as a happy or joyful color, because it is the color of sunshine and waking life. Whereas blue is connected with peacefulness and rest. [5]

Color Palettes

In a study where music, color and emotions where linked, researches provided different color palettes for the participants. The participants had to link whole palletes of color hues to different emotions and passages of music. The findings: Participants tended to link happy music and upbeat emotions with lighter, brighter, warmer colors, while linking sadder music and lower emotions with duller, darker, cooler tones. [6]


[1] Lupton, Ellen: Design is Storytelling. New York: Cooper Hewitt 2017, p. 104

[2] Lupton, Ellen: Design is Storytelling. New York: Cooper Hewitt 2017, p. 151

[3] Finlay, Victoria: Color: A Natural History of the Palette. New York: Random House 2002

[4] Colors in Culture. URL:

[5] Lupton, Ellen: Design is Storytelling. New York: Cooper Hewitt 2017, p. 108

[6] Lupton, Ellen: Design is Storytelling. New York: Cooper Hewitt 2017, p. 108p. 109

Ars Electronica Science Center

Science Centers strategies around multisensorial design for better learning capabilities

Introduction :

In this blog, I will explore the topic around Science Centers and their “hands-on” approaches and integration of the multisensory aspect of interaction. I am convinced of the importance of the senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) and emotions in the perception and memorization of interactive experiences. In this way, multisensorial design and hands-on approaches could help in the educational field, and that’s a strategy that many Sciences Centers are using nowadays. Through this blog, I wish to explore the relation between multisensorial design and exhibition design with this example of the Science Centers ; to explore how these senses work and how to integreate them into experiences could help to find the more adapted ways to create successful and adapted learning experiences for the general public and people with sensory or other impairments.

Questions this topic raises :

  • Which strategies are the best for public implication and a better learning ?
  • What are the basics of exhibition design ?
  • How to create funny but educational experiences ?
  • Why is multisense particularly interesting for exhibition design and learning ?
  • What are the strategies used to incorpore the disable people into those experiences ?
  • Is the haptic interaction an essential approach of exhibition design ?
  • What are the learning strategies during those pandemic times whereas those haptic feedbacks are impossible ?

Why design for 5 senses is crucial :

In this TED Talk, Jinsop Lee explains why designing for all the senses is important to enrich design experiences and avoiding design incogruities.

It is particularly important to ask ourselves those questions [1] :

  1. Why: what is the desired effect of your design?
  2. How: what is the desired experience?
  3. Sampling: what objects/materials elicit that experience?
  4. Analysis: what are the sensory properties of the samples?
  5. Integration: what is the sensory experience going to be?
  6. Design: translating the findings in a coherent design!

What is exactly a Science Center ?

Sciences Center or Museum are educational facility that uses particular methods to teach science, technology, mathematics, engineering etc. It generally uses of interactive displays, events and activities but also new technologies and media to help teaching and learning. Their main mission is to make science accessible and encourage excitement of discovery. They outstand from “classical science teaching “ in school because they imply direct curiosity and interaction with the public which involves its whole body through the experience [2].

A few great Science Centers that I expore in further details :

Ars Electronica

The Art Electronica Center is a Science Center based in Linz and founded in 1979. It focuses on the interlinkages between art, technology and society. It runs and annual festival and manages a multidisciplinary media arts R&D facility know as the Futurelab [3].

Ars Electronica Science Center

ART+COM Studios

The ART+COM studio is a german company which realises media installations and spaces that convey complex content in a targeted way and make information tangible. They design for exhibitions, museums and brand spaces [4].

The Exploratorium

The exploratorium is a museum of science, technology and arts based in San Francisco. It is known as one of the famous museum of SF especially for its « hands-on » approach and science of learning. It offers visitors a variety of ways to explore the museum through exhibitions but also webcasts, websites and events [5,6].

Sources :







Design Activism

A movement for a better world

The current social and political debates are reflected in design and art. Design activism is a movement that takes it upon itself to use its responsibility as a designer to create a better world. It is not about inciting isolated events, but rather using design in all its forms to create a sustainable platform for change – the fundamental problem must be understood and interpreted in order to explore the path to a common solution and publicly call for change. One does not rely on the mechanisms of politics, but uses one’s professional, creative skills for the commitment to a better world. As a designer, you have the responsibility to intervene in current social and socio-political processes in order to actively and globally shape the future society and to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. It is about taking a visionary and provocative position in order to help shape or even initiate social developments. Design activism has a healthy potential for dealing with contemporary societal issues. 

“Design Activism” or “Design” and “Activism”

Both, “design” and “activism”, are connected to our mind. They express our diverse ways of thinking. For design there isn’t only one definition, because it’s not that easy to limit the meaning of something that expresses our inner thoughts, which become to action and art. Design always have to be seen in a cultural context because it is tied to cultural perceptions that are contemporary and yet very personal. Design is about communication, where cultural, political and societal are put into a form of perception, and it seems to be everywhere. 

Design crosses a diverse range of subject fields and disciplinary borders giving design a unique reach among the creative disciplines, while simultaneously adding more complexity and blurring the discursive space. Design is something that is important in all facets of contemporary life. 

As in the discipline of design as well as in the discipline of activism there is a dualism. There are professional and trained designers, who offer expertise, yet design is executed by unknown, anonymous and non-intentional designers, who gain their expertise from outside the design professionals’ world. This also can be applied to the field of activism. The different origins of the designers and activists, whether professional or anonymous, leads to design and activism that makes an important contribution to contemporary issues, social developments and environmental stability.


“We have the opportunity to decide whether we will simply do good design or we will do good with design.” -David Berman

There are many actors, agents and stakeholders in this activist landscape that intentionally or unintentionally usedesign, design thinking and other design processes to deliver their activism.
So not only famous and well-known designers have the possibility and the responsibility to use their creative knowledge to draw attention to important societal and political topics that may not be given enough importance. 

I will ask what media design can do to create an effect for a better world and analyze illustrative media concepts for this purpose. 

The question that arises for me is how such design-activist concepts are received and what influence they have on the recipients. What success does design activism have in this? And how can this success be measured? What are the economic and commercial aspects of design activism?   


Scalin, Noah/ Taute, Michelle (2012): The Design Activist’s Handbook: How to Change the World (Or at Least Your Part of It) with Socially Conscious Design. Simon and Schuster.
Fuad-Luke, Alastair (2009): Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World. Earthscan.
Bieling, Tom (2019): Design (&) Activism. Perspectives on Design as Activism and Activism as Design. Mimesis International.
Banz, Claudia (Hg.) (2016): Social Design. Gestalten für die Transformation der Gesellschaft. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.