Relational Design: a case study of sofa and/or seating design for lifetime use 

Themes such as global warming, sustainability and the circular economy dominate current affairs. Even in the design world, not only young designers, but also big houses are increasingly considering the use of alternative, more sustainable materials and the end-of-life aspect of their products. While that is certainly a step in the right direction, the researchers in this project went even further.

A three-year practice-based academic study focused on the emotional, irrational bond users have with a piece of furniture or object, and how this relationship can be shaped. Based on interviews with supervisor Dirk Van Gogh and the other researchers - artist and fashion designer Marina Yee, interior architect Christophe Sonck, performance artist Helena Dietrich and biochemist María Boto Ordóñez - Elien Haentjens textually compiled the findings in the publication 'Relational design. Shaping an emotional bond as a catalyst for sustainability.' 

More than focusing on the product itself, this book delves deeper into the emotional connection. Based on that, innovative parameters were derived to design furniture that people can and want to use throughout their lives. Relational Design was published in Dutch and English by Academia Press/Lannoo.

Relational Design (Omgangsvormgeving) is een onderzoeksproject van het onderzoekscentrum Futures through Design.

Relational Design

project team
Dirk van Gogh, Christophe Sonck, María Boto Ordoñez, Helena Dietrich, Marina Yee, Stefaan De Smet, Catherine De Vos, Lieve Hoeyberghs, Stefanie Delarue, Tim Wyckstandt, Lieven Dhollander, Jan Mertens
Jos Bekaert
15.01.2017 – 14.01.2020
gefinancierd door
HOGENT PWO-focusprojecten
externe organisaties
Universiteit Antwerpen, Faculteit Ontwerpwetenschappen, Opleiding Productontwikkeling