Competitive Advantage through Strategic Design (CASD) was about achieving effective strategic design thinking that enhances the competitive position of Product Service Systems and industrial design providers. Product Service Systems (PSS) can help companies achieve competitive advantage. To realize effective PSS, companies should integrate design thinking in their innovation process.

Design thinking is characterized as a creative, user-centered and vision based approach – rather than being technology or marketing driven. Design thinking becomes strategic if it is adopted in the fuzzy front end of innovation where opportunities are identified and ideas are generated, or when it informs strategic decision making at later stages. Strategic design thinking can help firms to realize (a portfolio of) PSS combinations that are recognizable, legitimate and coherent for customers. 

What questions were being answered?

Teams from 3 universities and industry partners were working together to answer the questions:

How should strategic design thinking be integrated in PSS portfolio management to optimize outcomes?
How should organizations structure and manage their relationships with professional designers when developing new PSS to optimize outcomes?
How to design PSS that are coherent and provide customers with a positive, holistic experience?

What have  the teams achieved?
The results include knowledge, design tools and PSS development methods that will help industrial designers and other suppliers of creative services adopt an effective strategic role in the PSS innovation process.

Timeframe and communication:
Throughout the project, findings have been published via this website, in professional journals, and in academic journals. Findings were also disseminated in workshop and in educational programmes.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Creative and Industry partners: KVD, Fabrique, Flex, NPK Design, Scope, Philips Design, Studio Dumbar, Sky Team, KLM, Oce industries, Zeeno.

Project leader
Giulia Calabretta, Delft University of Technology


  • Run for your life! Using emotion theory in designing for concrete product interactions. Fokkinga, S., Desmet, P. This paper describes a research through design study that investigated the possibility of using emotion theory in the materialization of an interactive product. It is argued that many design for emotion approaches are inspirational and useful in the conceptual phase of a design project, but not in the phase in which concepts are elaborated into final products. The starting points of the study were a design for emotion approach that uses negative emotions to enrich product experiences, and a product that was intended to add engagement to the activity of running by providing users with the experience of being chased. The process of materializing the concept into a prototype, and testing this prototype with participants, was guided by emotion theory. The reflection on this process led to several insights that are interesting for the design of concrete interactions in design for emotion approaches. Download
  • Reversal Theory from a Design Perspective Fokkinga, S., Desmet, P.  
    Designers increasingly make use of psychological theory to understand a product’s user and to support their design efforts. This paper considers how insights from reversal theory have informed and inspired design research and practice. We identify two key benefits of reversal theory over other theories: it offers a dynamic rather than static, and a holistic rather than fragmented model of human functioning. Based on different aspects of reversal theory, six design opportunities were formulated: Products that are inspired by motivational states, products that make use of users’ motivational states, products that reverse motivational states, products that provide a variety of experience through psychodiversity, products that communicate and surprise through cognitive synergies, and products that offer emotionally rich experiences through parapathic emotions. Each of these opportunities is illustrated with examples of existing products and conceptual design.


In most Design for Emotion projects, evoking positive emotions is the goal and endpoint of the design intent. However, psychology literature suggests a potential other role for emotions; as a means to change people’s thought-action tendencies, which comprises among other things people’s perception, attention, attitude, and behavior. As each distinct emotion has a different thought-action tendency, each emotion can be evoked as a distinct design strategy. The two current roles of emotions in design are reviewed, as well as the newly proposed role. The implications of using emotion in design as a means are discussed. An explorative study is reported that was designed to find differentiated effects of five different emotions on a user-product interaction. The five emotions, anger, sadness, fear, amusement, and interest, were evoked by validated movie clips. The task comprised the building of a bridge between two columns with rectangular building blocks. The effects of the five emotions were evaluated. Although the results are yet inconclusive, they show clear differentiated effects for different emotions and yield important insights for future studies.