The Japanese term “kansei” consists of two kanji: kan – 感, roughly meaning feeling or affect, and sei – 性, standing for “human faculty”. Together, the formed word kansei is usually translated as “sensitivity” and used for expressing how emotions and affect are involved in our experiences. As a common term in the Japanese language, the word is however multifaceted and applied in very different ways.
In research and industry, kansei describes a way to explore feelings and establishes connections to artefacts and their qualities. These connections can be determined or complex. These artefacts can possess tangible and intangible such as services. A joint purpose for kansei related activities is to offer them additional emotional dimensions. Concretely, Kansei can be used to make commercial products more appealing by designing an intended emotional profile into them, making conscious choices of properties such as colors, textures, forms, or ways of engaging with the product.
Kansei research is structured around different domains with their own applications and purposes. Just to mention a few of them:
Kansei Engineering measures psychological responses customers have towards products (desire, comfort, want-to-have) and turn them to concrete product solutions. By choosing the right combinations of properties, those products then reflect affective values making the product unique and thereby attracting customers. Companies applying Kansei Engineering range from electronic industry, to vehicle manufacturers to food industry.
Kansei Measurement develops and provides tools, models and criteria based on measuring human’s action and psychological and physiological responses, to address human kansei.
Kansei Design is a set of design approaches focusing on kansei-related experiences with products, systems and services. These approaches focus on the designing and the evaluation of either the intrinsic properties of the artefacts or qualities of the artefact in experience, both from a kansei perspective.
Kansei Science is built on psychophysiology and information sciences to inquire kansei-related aspects of the human’s mind and behaviour.