Designers talk about wanting to design "intuitive" and "easy-to-use" products, but in many cases a great deal of value can come from designing products that teach new behaviors, or create new mental models. The invention of the QWERTY keyboard, for instance, has enabled the creation of a string of new communications tools in the last century, and has increased the pace and scope of communication. Everyone who remembers struggling through Reader Rabbit tutorials in elementary school will agree that mastering typing was no easy task, but we certainly have expanded our ability to communicate as a result of doing so.

But can you design for health and longevity? Artists/architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins seem to think so. Whereas most of us will take ourselves to the yoga studio or gym to stimulate the muscul0skeletal, vascular, excretory and other physiological systems that keep us healthy, they've designed housing that forces people to move in unusual--and often uncomfortable--ways. The uneven floors, the unconventionally-placed electrical outlets, and other challenging features effectively force your body to exercise strength, flexibility, and balance just to perform daily activities.

This project raises a plethora of questions, not the least of which concern safety, legality, and the cultural construct we call "home." As designers, how do we strike an appropriate balance between user-centered design and behavior-inducing design? What conditions are necessary for one or the other to succeed in the marketplace? In a world that is caught up with terms like "human-centered," "humanistic," "empathic," and "user-friendly," "intuitive" and "easy-to-use" may not always be the most desirable or significant attributes of what we create.