Carnegie Mellon University
Designing with Animism.pdf (29.13 MB)

Designing with Animism

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posted on 2017-05-01, 00:00 authored by Jiyoung Ko

As technology becomes increasingly intelligent and pervasive in the physical context of daily life, it is crucial to consider the design of technological artifacts to develop new interaction paradigms that can expand technological capabilities, shape behaviors, establish new practices, and broaden our worldview. This thesis proposes using principles of animism to inform the design of interactive objects as a way to encourage people to reflect on their relationships with the world around them, and to perceive objects beyond their roles as mere tools or ephemeral fashion products. Animism, as a design metaphor, can be powerful in creating expressive, affective, and empathetic interactions with interactive objects. Through the use of behavioral, physical, and social metaphors, an animistic object can communicate in a more nuanced way with its changing form and behavior within a given context. An animistic object can connect in multi-sensorial ways to provide an individual and idiosyncratic experience, which can afford one to construct new meanings with their surrounding objects and re-form their relationship with them. Animistic objects aim to create a poetic dialogue between themselves and their humans, fostering a deeper relationship that surpasses their utilitarian and aesthetic value. The goal of this thesis is to define animism in the context of industrial and interaction design, examine dimensions of animistic qualities, and evaluate implications of animistic objects in building rapport between human and artifacts.




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Design

Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Mark Baskinger

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