Together with IKEA of Sweden and IKANO Bostad, Veryday has studied what is emotionally important when living in small spaces. As cities around the globe continue to grow at a fast pace, space becomes a luxury that most people can't afford. Along with denser urban areas come higher housing costs and shrinking living spaces. When people get crammed into small spaces, they lose the flexibility to create a living space that suits them and meets needs such as socializing, preparing meals, personal space, privacy, and storage. Small living spaces present a significant challenge when it comes to building a home that enhances quality of life.
The aim of this project was to create smart and affordable concepts for compact living spaces. Given a future of compact living and the diverse ways people create homes around the world, we wanted to evaluate how environmental design features may contribute to a positive experience of home under spatial constraints.
Fredrik Ericsson, Design Researcher & Human Factors, Veryday
Anna Carell, Industrial Designer, Veryday
Client:Lotta Sjödin, IKANO Bostad
Susanne Thuresson, IKANO Bostad
Eva-Carin Banka Johnson, IKEA of Sweden
Maria Baliova, IKEA of Sweden
In order to gain real insights about every aspect of the experience of living in small spaces, we let the respondents live in an experimental apartment – the Living Lab - equipped with our compact living solutions. The two week stay allowed the respondents to form a good considered opinion and get a sense of a longer term use.
The participants who were chosen qualified by living in the neighbourhood, currently living in a compact apartment and also having a family size that would fit the Living lab apartment. We focused on the individual perception of the home and the concepts. Eight families stayed in the apartment for two weeks each. We opted for two family size categories: large; 1-2 adults and 3-4 kids and small; 1-2 adults and 1-2 kids. Since the audience is international, we wanted 50 % of the families to be of non-Swedish nationality.
Through many years of scientific research and design experience Veryday has developed their own 'Emotional Experience Mapping' method to capture and quantify the human emotional experience. In short, emotional mapping is a tool that maps the emotional journey of customers before, during and after using a service or product. The map provides vital clues on how to add value to a proposition and make our client's offerings more meaningful and attractive to their customers. Capturing emotion in the moment is ideal as emotions are elusive and trickle off quite quickly. Probing emotions helps reveal what the user cares about. Unimportant or insignificant experiences pass by without evoking emotions. When someone has an emotional response, however, we probe into the reasons behind this emotion, which provides insight into the underlying values of the users we interview. That way the emotion becomes a filter that separates what is important to the user. This approach is developed by Veryday in cooperation with Pieter Desmet and Steven Fokkinga in TU Delft for our Innovation lab process. Investigating people's emotions provides important information beyond the usability of products and environments.
Confident that whatever generates emotions is important, we asked the respondents to share the emotions generated from each concept or room in the Living Lab. We also asked them about the strength of the emotion they experienced. Emotion-based questions were asked during two interviews; one entrance interview and one exit interview. The respondent's emotional reactions to the flexible concepts have also been continuously captured through an emotional probe sheet - the REE application - which they also can access easily on an iPad at any point during their stay in the apartment. That way, the respondents can report emotions as they occur during the stay. The participants were also given a task to have guests over and demonstrate the flexible concepts to them, and to film and capture their guest's reactions.
The research aimed to generate a deeper understanding of our compact living concepts and to provide answers to how we best can use the square meters available to create homes that are more flexible and accommodating to people's real lives at home. The concepts we were testing actually corresponded very well to important needs when you live in small spaces. We found that the apartment with its features and design can significantly improve people's lives. This match was even stronger than anticipated. For example we found that flexible space can enhance how families socialize and hide-away spaces help families create boundaries between private and social space. The residents of the Living Lab felt like their personal lives weren't always on display — some things could be tucked away without worrying over the mess.
Thanks to the project, IKEA of Sweden and IKANO Real Bostad have gained useful knowledge about the experience of living in small spaces and what is important. These insights will benefit their everyday business and also influence their product development on a larger scale besides the actual compact living concepts that we have been testing. The knowledge gained from the project will be used for further development of concepts as well as design of future homes and will be used as drivers for improving regulation and city planning to make it more up to date with the needs of the population. The project will be shared with important opinion leaders and politicians in Sweden to highlight the question of forming future accommodation, in pace with greater demands, denser urban areas, higher housing costs and shrinking living spaces.