Artefactual emptiness – On appropriation in kansei design

Lévy, P. (2020). Artefactual emptiness - On appropriation in kansei design. Proceedings of Kansei Engineering and Emotion Research International Conference 2020, KEER2020. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Society of Kansei Engineering.

Appropriation is the phenomenon by which an artefact is adapted for a specific use, distinct from the original design intention. By essence, it cannot be planned by design. However, it is a major aspect in the experience one may have in interaction with an artefact, as it leads to the feelings of ownership and to the effective situatedness of the artefact. It is therefore significantly contributing to designing for sustainability and for the everyday. This paper intends to address how design can consider the possibility of appropriation. Taking a kansei design approach, inspired from the nishidian philosophy on perception, we introduce the notion of artefactual emptiness as a space provided by design and left to the user to adapt the artefact for its integration in the habitability of the world. This space is made accessible and inviting by involving irregularities, suggested by Yanagi Soetsu as a means towards beauty, and implemented in design through micro-considerations and micro-frictions. Artefactual emptiness leads to beauty in experience, expected from a kansei perspective and made possible by kansei design. This work on appropriation through kansei design also leads to question the attention appropriation should have in other domains of kansei research, especially kansei evaluation. It calls for finding ways in kansei research to evaluate over time the kansei effect of appropriation on experience.