Posts Tagged ‘enjoyability factor

The Fun Theory: Reassessment

24, نوفمبر 2010

The Fun Theory: Piano Staircase

by teamWill


Incentive and Social Change:

In the past, companies relied on penalties and extra costs to keep customers behaving in a way that is beneficial to the company. This method of thinking created a a chasm and disconnection between people and organizations. As a result, when companies attempted to inspire change for the better – for the environment, society, or individual – the citizens they hoped to inspire ignored them. People adopted the mindset that big companies were out to squeeze every cent from their bank accounts, and were very reluctant to trust these companies if they had a genuine concern. In reaction to this, companies have recently started to give incentives for good behavior instead of penalties for bad behavior. As an example, All State and several other car insurance companies currently offer incentives for not being in a car accident over a specified time. This simple change in approaching the customer has made customers much more willing to trust these companies. As this trust has built, some companies have jumped from encouraging behavior benefitting the company to encouraging behaviors benefitting society. In the Tin Drum Asian Café located in Tech Square, consumers get a discount for choosing a healthier meal option. The unique aspect about the Fun Theory experiment is the seemingly idealistic nature of the project. Each new experiment in the contest has no connection with buying Volkswagon, which is a completely new way of approaching advertisement and social obligation.

Cost and Functionality:

Often a deciding factor in business ventures, the relationship between cost and functionality is a delicate one. If the costs outweigh the benefits of the pursuit, then the idea is often dropped. For decades, cost-cutting in the area of environmental responsibility led to today’s environmentally degraded situation. Often, the benefits of a good idea are unforeseen and unexpected, and this unanticipated aspect of life is not accounted for in the design process of new businesses, products, and ideas. Perhaps part of the beauty in the Fun Theory is its facilitation of a more unassuming mindset. Though not purely philanthropic, the Fun Theory is also not purely business focused. The ideas constructed through the Fun Theory challenge seemed to overlook cost, at least initially, to bring about change.


Activist Design:

This experiment is taking an active role in changing our world. The idea behind the Fun Theory is that fun can inspire change. The Piano Staircase seeks to surprise people who do not expect to see a staircase that they use everyday turned into a functional piano. This will cause the everyday commuters to be thrown off their daily routine of a quiet, faceless commute into something exciting. Curious, the people will want to walk up the piano stairs instead of the escalator, which most of them ride every day.

Community Design:

The concept of the Piano Staircase was conceived out of concern for the community. The community’s issue of choosing easier routes over healthier ones that required exercise was decided as an easily fixed and potentially very beneficial project idea. From start to finish, the design was made for and relied on the community.

Enjoyability Factor:

For the Piano Staircase project to have the desired effect on the community, it had to be enjoyable. Without the factor of enjoyability or fun, no change would have occurred. Travelers would have looked at the stairs and seen a change, but would not have been inspired to change their own actions. The success of this project relied on the enjoyability factor.

Incentive-driven Change:

In Government, there are two main lines of thinking about change. Change can come from the stick method or the carrot method. The stick method pushes citizens to change through fear, force, and punishments. This is very effective, but once the coercion is removed, people rarely continue doing what they were forced to do: they had seen it as a burden for so long. The carrot method gives citizens benefits for good behavior. This method can lead to results even after the incentives have been removed, because the people associated the action with reward. The Piano Staircase takes the carrot approach. By offering the incentive of a fun experience, the Staircase may make people think twice every time they look at stairs, giving the desired effect.

Social Philanthropy:

In the Piano Staircase, no benefit can be seen for the workers and funders of the project. There is no money that seems to be flowing back to them for their investment. Their work, though, overflowed with social repercussions and benefits. This project was basically an outpouring of money for the social good, improving the local community and inspiring others to do the same.

The Fun Theory: The Piano Staircase

16, نوفمبر 2010

The Fun Theory: The Piano Staircase

by teamWill

We make choices every day. Whether the decision is about ourselves, others, or the environment, each is important. Often we blindly choose the option that is most harmful simply because it requires the least amount of energy and contains the least amount of resistance or effort. The Volkswagen Company launched a contest opened to everyone in which changing habits are inspired by fun. This is the Fun Theory.

Hoping to inspire innovative ideas and encourage people to implement their own fun theories, Volkswagen carried out many experiments for the Fun Theory. These experiments follow the habits of everyday people in different situations in order to create helpful design to change our sometimes unhealthy choices. These innovative and fun ways help to positively enforce a better habit within a part of society.

The piano staircase is an especially interesting case. It is an experiment conducted in Sweden aimed to change the lazy habits of routine 21st century society by changing the perspective and view point of the ordinary staircase. Though the invention of escalators definitely aided the design of buildings and has altered the way people travel through buildings, it has created some very lazy tendencies. Many people will wait in line to ride up an escalator, even if the stairs located right next to the escalator are open. As we all know, this kind of behavior leads to health problems later on in life. By turning seemingly ordinary stairs into a working piano, the Volkswagen Company sparks interest in physically going up the stairs and encourage more widespread use of the stairs instead of using the escalator.

Watch the results of the piano staircase here. —-> Musical Stairs

This video is taken by a subway customer simply observing people interacting with the stairs. This is very interesting because the film is not edited for dramatic and emphatic purposes. The video simply shows how people react. It starts with a woman who is testing out each step, finding a little joy in this surprising addition to the station. As she carefully steps on each step, another woman walks hurriedly down the stairs. This woman seems to find nothing interesting about the musical staircase. Another woman walks down, with earphones in, not willing to replace her recorded music with her own creation. A man begins to walk up the staircase in a normal, uninterrupted fashion, but turns around to experiment with the first woman. The last woman waits at the top with her two children, turning the stairs into a kind of game. She then proceeds to walk down each step, her children synchronizing steps with their mom. The personal interactions that people have with this little interruption from everyday life hold the power behind this design.

By changing the ordinary stairs into interactive musical keys, the traffic on the staircase increased by 66%! As the video showed, people enjoyed playing and listening to the notes played as they walked up the staircase. What is most important is that people chose to climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator. What awesome results!

This truly shows how important the “enjoyability factor” is an essential element in design for customer satisfaction and usability.


Incentive and social change

Out-of-the-ordinary and fascination

Routine and change

Laughter and world issues

Inspiration and distraction

Cost and functionality