When  designing a PSS, designers try to find a balance between flexibility and control to create effective and socially responsible value for users and other stakeholders.
GRIP was about how designers achieve a balance between flexibility and control when designing PSS, leading to the creation of effective and socially responsible value for users and other stakeholders. When designing from a system perspective, the creative control of design is structurally lower than in product design. The designers have to deal with complex, dynamic environments and need to negotiate decisions with a range of stakeholders. The PSS development process is less formalized and is characterized by a high level of co-creation and co-production. This raises questions like how tight should  the designer's grip on the processes and outcomes of design be, when working together with end-users and other partners in PSS development?

What questions were being answered?
Teams from 3 universities and Industry partners were working together to answer the question: How do designers strike a balance between flexibility versus control when designing PSS, leading to the creation of effective and socially responsible value for users and other stakeholders?

What have the teams achieved?
Using generalised cases, the team has monitored and measured work related stress in the office environment in order to gain a broader understanding of the problems of the issues of flexibility and control. This helped to create the methodological support needed for the design of effective and commercially viable PSS with a high societal value.

Timeframe and communication:
Grip started in 2011 and finished in 2015. Throughout the project, we have published in a range of professional journals, including the development of manuals for the effective design of healthcare and service industry PSS. Progress was published via this website and explored in workshops.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Industry partner: Philips Design.

Project leaders
dr. Evelien van de Garde, Delft University of Technology
Dr. Dirk Snelders, Eindhoven University of Technology 


  • Job Stress: From taboo to business Van de Garde, E., Thompson, M., Geurts, L., Ullerup, H. & Perez, M. Workshop for Service Design Network Conference 2011 in San Francisco, October 2011. Download
  • Positive design interventions to address stress at work. Van de Garde Perik, E., Snelders, D., & Geurts, L The GRIP project explored the potential of design to positively support people in balancing job demands and resources, or work and relaxation. Download

Adaptive Relaxation Space

Philips has teamed up with a dynamic group of academics and experts in mental health to co-create an adaptive relaxation space aimed at healing workplace stress. The experience prototype adapts itself to the user by changing spaces and soundscapes depending on where they stand, and encourages paced breathing with light patterns created by the company’s Hue system. The unique innovation, which is initially geared to reducing workplace stress for overstretched professions like teachers and healthcare workers, could be adapted to create new calming ambient experiences in hospitals, mental healthcare facilities or in airports to help reduce the stress of busy travelers.

Why this innovation matters
Stress at work is on the rise. Studies show that people face increasing demands on their time and resources. The effect this has on individuals, the businesses they work for and the healthcare systems that care for them for is huge. At least half of all lost working days are related to stress, yet many employers report not knowing how to help the people who work for them.

How does it work?
The relaxation space is designed to offer the user intuitive control over their surroundings in order to alleviate stress and promote mindfulness. As they move around, they intuitively create their own individual space. An ambient soundscape becomes complex or simple in tone depending on where the person stands. The soundscape is generative and nothing is prerecorded, as the sounds are created by the people in the room at the time. To help them pace their breathing - a technique used by mindfulness trainers - dynamic Hue lights in the ceiling create soothing colors that glow slowly brighter then dimmer. The space can be used by one person, but is big enough for up to four people to use it comfortably together, and can be used to trigger separate or shared experiences.