Aesthetic pleasure in interaction

Products are not (only) designed to be passively admired; we physically interact with them to make them work for us. At times, these interactions feel ‘just right’. Take for example the waveboard: the user is required to shift her weight forward to propel the board. While performing this action, the product responds and provides many forms of feedback. Since her movements, positions, and interactions make the user feel safe and in control, plus facilitate new learning, the use of a waveboard is quite pleasurable.

Within the context of a particular task and with a particular goal in mind, the physical action may be experienced as pleasurable in and of itself. Together with Marc Hassenzahl and his team at Folkwang University (Essen, Germany), we strive to understand what principles govern this type of aesthetic pleasure. What role does the design’s aim play in appreciating the way we interact with it? Does an aesthetically pleasing interaction (also) involve a balance between control and challenge? With the increasing number of so-called interactive products in our daily lives, investigating this type of kinaesthetic aesthetic response has great relevance for the field of interaction design, where a related (but different) phenomenon has been coined the “aesthetics of interaction”.

                                                                                                                                      (With: Marc Hassenzahl and Paul Hekkert)


Cila, N., M. Rozendaal, M. Berghman & P. Hekkert (2015). Searching for balance in aesthetic pleasure in interaction. DeSForM 2015, Milan, Politecnico di Milano, October 13-17.

Hassenzahl, M., Lenz, E., Diefenbach, S., & Teck, N. G. K. (2015). The delicacy of handshakes: Reflections on the aesthetics of interaction. In Proceedings of DeSForM 2015, Dynamic, Multisensory, Wise (pp. 206-214).

Lenz, E., Diefenbach, S., & Hassenzahl, M. (2014). Aesthetics of interaction: a literature synthesis. In Proceedings of the 8th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Fun, Fast, Foundational (pp. 628-637). ACM.