Designing Objects That Improve With Use

DS 58-7: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 7, Design for X / Design to X, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Helms, Michael Ray; Leifer, Larry
Series: ICED
Section: Design for X, Design to X
Page(s): 311-320


A new design methodology called "agathonic design" is proposed; one that specifies the intentional design of objects so they improve with use. Individual and/or group interactions with an agathonic design object result in an increase in functionality, as perceived by the user. The materials, geometry, kinematics, stress and user interactions of design objects are anticipated and considered. An object's functionality can increase with use as a result of directed wear. A theoretical analysis of the concept is discussed, as many design objects embody the unique characteristic of "improving with use". Agathonic objects are improved by lasting user generated changes in two distinct regions: (I) at the user interface, and (II) anywhere within the object. Definitions and distinctions are made to establish the classes of objects described by agathonic design theory. Applications of agathonic design theory to consumer products are detailed, along with thoughts on extending the theory to non-physical (virtual) designs.

Keywords: Design theory, interactions, entropy, functionality, adaptive systems


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