Brain_manufacturing: design based on brain activity

January, 20 2014 10:00

Posted inInner Ideas

What is the perfect design? According to Merel Bekking, a research-based designer who graduated in 2011 from Utrecht School of Arts, our brains are likely to prefer the material plastic, the colour red and closed organic shapes.


How does she know? By analysing the brain activity with an MRI scan.


It all started with the question: “If you let a group of non-designers make choices [on shapes, colour, materials], will you end up with the perfect design? If you ask people directly versus letting their brains give the answer, will there be a difference?”





With the help of The Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging in Amsterdam, Bekking was able to create a method to search for people’s preferences and dislikes by looking at the results of the MRI scans.


20 individuals were shown various images and of shapes, colours and materials while in the MRI scanner, and the resulting preferences were quite a surprise.


“The results of the scans were that people preferred the material plastic, the colour red and a closed organic shape,” Merel Bekking says. “It is surprising to see that the individuals gave different answers on paper than what the scans showed – they said they liked the material wood, the colour blue, and open, round shapes. This clearly shows that what individuals think they prefer doesn’t match the preferences of their brains.”





With these results, Merel Bekking will create a series of perfect everyday objects that will be presented at Fuorsialone during Milan Design Week in 8-13 April 2014.