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Brief Published: 20 Jan 2014

MRI Scans Create ‘Perfect’ Designs


Brain_Manufacturing is a project that creates designs based on brain activity. Dutch research-based designer Merel Bekking is using results from an MRI scanner (a medical imaging device used to investigate the body) to scientifically determine the “perfect” design.

Instead of designing a product first and using an MRI scanner to gauge user response (as done in neuromarketing), the scanner here is used as a design tool. A group of 20 men and women were shown various shapes, colours and materials while lying in an MRI scanner to pinpoint their preferences ­– with unexpected results.

“The results [showed] that people preferred the material plastic, the colour red, and a closed organic shape,” said Bekking. However, this contradicted the preferences expressed on paper. “They said they liked the material wood, the colour blue, and open, round shapes,” Bekking explained. “This clearly shows that what individuals think they prefer doesn’t match the preferences of their brains.”

Bekking will use the MRI results to create a range of ‘perfect’ everyday objects. These will be unveiled at the FuoriSalone at Milan Design Week, which runs from April 8-13.

For more innovative examples of brainwave-based design, see our NeuroDesign report.