10 thoughts to consider

minutes read
June 26, 2024

Designing For Love
10 thoughts to consider

These suggestions are offered as a supplement to theexpertise a designer will already possess, when they want to think explicitlyabout designing for love. Similarly, whilst design has long been about whatpeople fall in love with, these thoughts are aimed at expanding an awareness ofhow love can be activated by design – because designing for love is about whena design tips from enabling interactions to improving relationships. Further,the thoughts invite the designer to reflect on themselves as well as on thosefor whom they design. Designing for love is, also, therefore to embark on ajourney of self-awareness, even self-transformation.


1. Be midwives of love
Think of design for love as about aiding the manifestation of a love thatis already present. The design does not have to make or manufacture love, andprobably cannot, but rather to resonate with love. This kind of design invitesus into spaces in which love becomes more possible.
To put it differently, love is an energy within which humans live, move andhave their being. The question is how skilfully that energy is navigated and nurtured,and design can enhance that skilfulness. Relatedly, be in the service of love, forthen love will energise you.

2. Love can be magical
Love isn’t wholly about feelings or emotion, though they will likely bepresent. Neither is love without reason and thought. Indeed, love becomesmagical and transformative when it bridges head and heart. Then, the wholeperson is engaged and that is enormously empowering.
You see that power when, for example, a design has enabled today’s beneficiaryof love to become tomorrow’s exemplar of love. Designs for love that canrelease that virtuous spiral of spirit might incorporate the dynamics of gift,or moments of ecstasy, or a shift of attention, or feelings of camaraderie, ora gentle sense of challenge.

3. Learn about love
The word “love” in English covers numerous types of loving, which is why inother languages there isn’t a single, generic word. The many manifestations oflove will be acknowledged by different words for friendship, family love, loveof nature, self-giving love, needy love, unconditional love, romantic love,self-love, love of God, spiritual love and more.
This matters because different loves work in different ways. For example, alove that is about knowing another personally, such as friendship, will not bethe kind of love that can integrate people across cultures and societies, whichwill have more to do with the love that wishes others well. So being clearabout the kind of love you are trying to foster is fundamental.
Further, people may well respond to a design that invites them to learn aboutlove, as well. Conversation cards that “skip the small talk”, or apps that fostera move from falling in love to standing in love, may come as a welcome relief.

4. Discuss what difference you feel love can make
Designing for love is aided by a developed, articulated sense of how designand love together can make a difference, and why they are needed now. Forexample, many designs focus on utility or aesthetics or understanding orease-of-use, all of which are important. But how is quality of connection aidedby the design? Or how are wider kinds of love fostered by it – not onlyinterpersonal, say, but interspecies, or a love of the inanimate world, or aspiritual love? When love is baked into a design, it can catalyse everexpanding circles of love.

5. Ask what attitudes your design is fostering
Love flourishes when people feel freed rather than manipulated; when lifeis felt to be an abundant resource, not a scarce commodity; when there isconfidence that pain or difficulty is not a fundamental threat to connection;when the response invited is characterised by gentleness, curiosity, oropenness, not harshness, certainty, or defensiveness.
These are the kind of attitudes embedded in designs, which profoundly effecttheir impact upon the world. So what attitudes need to be embedded to fosterlove?

6. Think about what you seek from your users
Are you designing to support an unthinking engagement with others, whichmight well be appropriate in some circumstances, or are you designing to promptreflection, even moments of revelation? Are you designing to encourage habitualpractices, or so as to invite users to consider their intentions? Is yourdesign about facilitating a moment of contemplation, or inviting people tochange the way in which they attend to the world?
Again, both may be right and loving, depending on the matter in hand. But beingconscious of design intentions matters, particularly when it comes to designingfor love with this interest in designing to improve relationships, not merelyenable interactions.

7. Measure what you treasure
When thinking about the impact a piece of design may make, even seekingempirically to assess its efficacy, ensure that the measurements you make capturequalities of love.
For example, think about how an artefact or process is not only liked by anindividual user but about the manner in which it enables them to connect withanother. Similarly, ask how you might measure the quality of an engagement,rather than just the ease of transaction.

8. Loving invites vulnerability and often involvessuffering
Love is readily sentimentalised and, sometimes, there is nothing wrong withthat. But for love to make a difference, the risks as well as the rewards ofloving will be engaged. So, when it comes to designing for love, questions toask might be, how does this design help or hinder the challenging aspects ofhuman relationships? How can it help; how can it not help and shouldn’t try to?
Alternatively, how does this design hold tender feelings, from yearning toloss? Love can make people feel defensive, and can even be triggering, so howdoes this design consider people’s vulnerabilities?
Additional questions to consider will include whether guidelines or implicitrules are baked into the design, or whether a challenging issue can be aided bya ritual or pathway?

9. Reflect on how you experience and what you make oflove
To be involved in design is to be involved with some measure of self-disclosure.The character and personality, background culture and personal history of thedesigner will, indirectly, become part of what’s designed. Their convictionsabout love and why it matters will perhaps be particularly part of designingfor love. Asking how love is operative in your life may seem almost anon-question, until the question is, in fact, asked.

10. Let the designer’s love of design be an activeprinciple in the work
Love is one of those remarkable facets of human exchange that not onlycommunicates a message but is the message. A smile, say, or a piece of music,not only tells you about love but is itself an act of love.
Similarly, something designed for love can not only convey love can itself be loving.Which is why the designer’s own loving participation in the work matters. Ifthe design process itself is shaped by love, then love will likely fill what thatprocess produces.


Mark Vernon

As a creative agency, we believe in the power of imagination and innovation. We are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and strive to create work that is not only beautiful and effective, but also meaningful and impactful.

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