Shikake: The Japanese Art of Shaping Behavior Through Design
We are living in a time when behavioral change is necessary for our health and survival. Yet we find it exceedingly difficult to transform our own habits, let alone those of other people. Enter Naohiro Matsumura, whose powerful new design method is as astonishingly simple in its logic as it is sophisticated in its psychology. It allows any of us—from UX designers and marketers to concerned citizens and overworked parents—to address challenges in our homes, our public spaces, and our social interactions.
As Matsumura shows, a shikake―or “device” in Japanese―is a design that exerts influence on us through subtle nudging, rather than direct command; it encourages a particular behavior without telling its (often unwitting) user the primary purpose of that behavior. Examples abound: footprints in a store guide shoppers and keep them socially distant; a basketball hoop placed over a trash can entices children to tidy up their rooms; a symbol of a shrine in a public square encourages respectfulness; and a staircase painted to look like piano keys prompts exercise through play.
Combining traditional Japanese aesthetics with the lessons of behavioral economics, Matsumura reveals how to identify the hidden design cues that already shape our world, and how shikakes can help us confront some of the most pressing challenges of our era, from pandemics to declining civic engagement to climate change and beyond.
Mind-bending yet elegant, Shikake presents a tool kit for anyone who wants to create their own mindful designs, for the delight and betterment of us all.
Designed by David A. Gee
Published by Liveright, 2020
Hardcover, 169 pages, b&w with 42 images, 5.8 × 8.6 inches