How deep is your love: Deep narratives of ensoulment and heirloom status

Heekyoung Jung, Shaowen Bardzell, Eli Blevis, James Pierce, Erik Stolterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This paper describes our ongoing research about what it takes to design things that can be ensouled or can achieve heirloom status as a matter related to sustainable design. This paper draws on research on fifteen deep narratives that we collected to uncover detailed accounts of relationships between each participant and a single particular loved artifact or collection of a single type. Three themes emerged from our analysis of the narratives: (i) intimacy accumulated as an association with an object over time, (ii) investment of effort to learn and control functionality, and (iii) implicit values related to the patterns of collection of artifacts. In conceptualizing these three themes as an analytical frame, we arrived at two unifying notions that generally apply across many of the narratives and that serve as catalysts to design principles, namely the notion of rarity of an object, and the notion of aficionado-appeal of an object. We conclude by considering how these unifying notions can be used reflectively and judiciously to prompt design principles for interaction designers at least, and possibly as design principles in-and-of-themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Marketing


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