Aesthetic of Friction

by Matthias Laschke and Marc Hassenzahl

In short, this aesthetic aims at creating friction (mainly through choice) to highlight and suggest behavioral alternatives to established routines. However, it does so in a light, often naïve, understanding or even ironic way. While Pleasurable Troublemakers know what is good for you, they also understand all those moments, when changing something seems just not possible.

On this website you will find several projects that are labeled as Pleasurable Troublemakers. For instance ReMindThe Never Hungry Caterpillar or The Fifty Fifty Cake and much more. All these objects and projects contribute several facets to an inductively derived aesthetic called "The Aesthetic of Friction". Marc Hassenzahl and I elaborated this aesthetic as part of our research.

However, you will also find other projects beside the topic of designing for change. In my position as a post-doc I am also involved in several projects concerning the the topic of Experience Design and Interaction Design. I would be pleased if you browse through the varying projects.


Troublemakers are situated – they flourish on the intimate understanding and knowledge of a situation and practices at hand. They are part of a story.


Troublemakers offer an alternative in line with an ideal self.


Troublemakers "rescript" moments of choice – they neither simplify nor restrict.


Troublemakers nudge people into meaning-making – the friction creates reflection at least for those, who do not already share the goal.

Each principle creates friction. We believe this friction is necessary to make engage people into reflection. However, it is also likely to create reactance. Therefore we suggest some further design principles to ease the friction.


Troublemakers are not especially smart. They could be regard as a partner. They rather want to be as their user than being smart.


Troublemakers allow for cheating or make cheating even a part of their concept. They embody a better Self, but allow for transgressions. They are partners in crime, mirrors.


Troublemakers never create choice, which requires superhuman powers to behave ideally. They are soft and subversive rather than strict and explicit.