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Use the “Gradation Method” to Design Architecture for True Happiness

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

‍Image Credit: © Open ClipArt-Vectors | Pixabay

BEYOND “ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL”

When designing environments, do you adhere to a “one-size-fits-all” approach? Or do you try to personalize your environments for individual building occupants? Many designers use technology to help with the personalization of a design; yet, there is also another approach to consider that, when coupled with technology, can strengthen your design even further. This approach is what I call the “Gradation Method”.

In the TED talk entitled Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce, Malcolm Gladwell explains how by grouping clusters of preferences it becomes possible to make 78% of people happy. (1)

Here is how Gladwell explains the concept:

“If I were to ask all of you to try and come up with a brand of coffee -- a type of coffee, a brew -- that made all of you happy, and then I asked you to rate that coffee, the average score in this room for coffee would be about 60 on a scale of 0 to 100. If, however, you allowed me to break you into coffee clusters, maybe three or four coffee clusters, and I could make coffee just for each of those individual clusters, your scores would go from 60 to 75 or 78. The difference between coffee at 60 and coffee at 78 is a difference between coffee that makes you wince, and coffee that makes you deliriously happy.” (1)

DESIGN PERSONALIZATION LEADS TO HAPPINESS

This all leads us to the following question and design conclusion:

Within your designed architectural environment, how many people do you make truly happy? Is it 50%, 60%, 78%? And how can you raise this percentage?

By using emerging architectural technologies with the “Gradation Method”, it becomes possible to surpass a “one-size-fits-all” design application by creating clusters of preferences. For example, instead of offering only one kind of lighting condition within a restaurant, it is more beneficial to create gradations of light that meet clustered group preferences. In this case, some people may like a brighter light while dining to create a vibrant atmosphere while others may like a dimmer light while dining to create a more intimate atmosphere. Just imagine a restaurant with lighting sections that appeal to different groups of people. This restaurant would raise their happiness score so they are making a higher amount of patrons truly happy with their dining experience.

APPLYING THE “GRADATION METHOD” CONCEPT

I now invite you to think about how you can use the “Gradation Method” to better personalize your environmental designs. What clusters can you use to ensure that your design will make a higher percentage of occupants happier? (Be sure to think beyond lighting.) All of this will help your occupants to ultimately feel that the environment is even more personalized and beneficial for them. And these are the stepping stones to designing for increased happiness.

Reference:

(1) Gladwell, Malcolm. (2004) Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce. TED Talk. [Accessed on: July 25, 2018] https://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce

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what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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