Object attachments

Most of the research I’ve done in my career has been focused on removing problems or finding opportunities for increasing usefulness. Much less has been focused on intensifying desirability and long-term attachment, except as a side-effect of function. I’d like to focus more on designing for desirability in the next decade.

I would also like to think more about what desirability is. It is not only visual aesthetics. Nor is it only a matter of personality or identity projection. Since early childhood I have always formed unusually strong attachments to objects, and these attachments are deep, intense and inward. They are never one thing, but a mix of aesthetics, use quality and symbol — and occasionally they are social as well.


I keep returning to my triad of What/How/Why (aka Is/Can/Ought) which started as an obsession with the meaning of the I Ching trigram yaos back in the early 2000s, and which is still a live problem for me and in the form of a venn trefoil is one of my most enduring geometric meditations (along with three other diagrams: wheel, star and spiral).

(For me, these shapes are intuitive springs and no matter how hard I try to finally explicitly nail down what they mean, they are never even close to exhausted. I’ve written about each of them extensively, in prose and verse, but it all seems so pompous that I get embarrassed and I don’t want to expose it. I should probably just get it all out of my head onto ink on paper and into boxes in a storage area and just move on. And if it is not obvious, I have a powerful object-attachment to my unpublished magical pamphlet.)

For the moment, I want to connect this with Liz Sander’s design trinity of Useful/Usable/Desirable.

I am tempted to view Usefulness as the overlap of How/Why; Usability of How/Is; and Desirable as the overlap of Why/Is.


I might need to explore attachment theory.

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