Lovers' box: Designing for reflection within romantic relationships

Anja Thieme, Jayne Wallace, James Thomas, Ko Le Chen, Nicole Krämer, Patrick Olivier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    We present the Lovers box, a digital artefact designed to engage romantic couples in reflections on their relationship. By adopting perspectives from social psychology and interaction design, the work examines the role of reflection through the use of a non-traditional digital artefact that acts as a site for enduring attachments of personal emotional significance. To this end, we respond to previous research work on reflection through design, in the development of four Lovers boxes whose purposes and meanings are completed through reflections both by romantic couples and their integration in everyday lives. A field study was conducted involving five couples in new relationships who were asked to exchange video messages (co-created with a digital media artist) using the Lovers box over a period of five weeks. Our findings demonstrated: (1) that the creation, exchange and display of messages embedded in the digital artefact served as both mirrors and sources for reflection concerning couples relationships; (2) the rich manner in which the Lovers box became meaningful to participants, as they perceived it as keepsake or digital storybook of their meaningful experiences, experienced it as an enjoyable shared hobby with their partner and saw it as providing them a snapshot into the beloved persons mind and thoughts; and (3) how the potential for new castings of digital artefacts might support our personal and emotional lives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-297
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


    • Emotion and affective UI
    • Interaction design
    • Intimacy
    • Materiality
    • Reflection on experience
    • Reflective design

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