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: