Bonding Framework

a framework for building a relationship between the people you work with and a new design

What is it for?

When a physical change is introduced into an office or a school, for instance, it takes time for people to build a new relationship with it and adopt it. This Bonding Framework is a conversation and worksheet used to accompany a new design installed with the intention to shift energy in the space or contribute to the culture in the space. It allows the people you work with to acknowledge this change and be open to being affected by it.

Emotion-Centered Design


This framework allows the people you work with to acknowledge and adopt a new design or environment as well as the change it requires. By reflecting on their experience with the new design, they begin to create a bond with it.

What does it look like?

The community designer or space manager outlines the key elements and attributes of the change they want to introduce and maintain. After a formal introduction to the new design is made and the purpose of it being there is clarified, participants complete the Bonding Framework. The worksheet asks them to connect physical aspects of the objects (heavy, bright, open, etc.) with ways of relating to the space, culture, and other people (heavy: “I want the mood to feel grounded a focused,” bright: “We will feel optimistic,” and open: “We will have open communication and be transparent.” etc.)

Participants’ State of Mind

open, curious, mindful

Level of Complexity (1–5)


Time for Participation

10 to 30 min

Use Cases

  1. Community design project for NEW INC: Cultural Incubator
Image Description: Participant uses a bonding worksheet with three open spaces for them to name three physical attributes and describe how that attribute relates to their experience. The worksheet lists physical attributes for participants to pick from including color, texture, weight, transparency, luster, size, material, age, temperature, and depth.

2. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy at Child Mind Institute.
Adapted to Matter–Mind Studio from Myriam Diatta’s research with parents and clinicians who practice Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

Image Description: A parent completes a bonding worksheet before they bring home their therapy object designed to remind them to practice specific therapy skills. In this case, the skill is ‘Labeled Praise.’ The worksheet has three spaces for a participant to name a color, shape, and attribute of their choosing that connects to their experience practicing the skill.

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