We believe that human health should be the guiding principle for the design of spaces, objects and services. In practice, this means working in a scientifically sound and user-centered manner. To achieve this, we want to understand contexts, identify needs, and develop and evaluate solutions. Scientific and creative methods from different disciplines are our tools. Users lead the way. This is how we create what we stand for: healthy design.

The journey to the Design Institute

In 2015, Dr. Jonas Rehn-Groenendijk founded the blog "Gesunde Gestaltung" (Healthy Design) as an advertising-free and independent platform for communicating and reflecting on topics related to health-promoting design. Here he addressed and deepened aspects of his own research and practice in particular. At the beginning of 2022, building on this concept, he launched the podcast "Gesunde Gestaltung" (Healthy Design), in which guests from research and practice, among others, have their say and contribute their expertise.

From this thematic condensation, it became clear that there is enormous potential and an immediate need to transfer the diverse approaches and scientific findings more strongly into practice. The communication of these topics continues to be of importance. At the same time, the direct exchange with physicians, therapists, designers and scientists led to a pathbreaking insight: a closer integration of scientific research methods and an evidence-based design approach that not only addresses sub-areas but sees the big picture in the context of health promotion is crucial.

Together with the psychologist Dr. Helena Müller, the concept of a design institute was developed, which deals with the triad of research, design and communication in an interdisciplinary way and consistently involves users. In January 2023, the Design Institute for Healthy Design was founded. In addition to Dr. Müller and Dr. Rehn-Groenendijk, the Design Institute incorporates the expertise of a network of physicians, psychotherapists, architects, sports scientists and others, depending on the project requirements.

Head of institute

Dr. Jonas Rehn-Groenendijk holds a doctorate in design research and industrial design. His research and teaching focus on the relationship between design, behavior and experience in the context of health promotion and sustainable development. He has teaching experience in Germany, Switzerland and the UK, is a reviewer and referee, and an active member of the German Society for Public Health. As host of the podcast "Gesunde Gestaltung" he wants to introduce and present people and approaches of health promoting design.
Contact: jrg@gesunde-gestaltung.de

Schenten, Julian; Rehn, Jonas (2021): A Theory of Change (ToC) supporting the visioning of a sustainable supply chain. Beitrag im Portal „SCNAT wissen – Methoden und Werkzeuge für die Koproduktion von Wissen“. Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz Netzwerk für transdisziplinäre Forschung (td-net). Online verfügbar unter https://naturwissenschaften.ch/co-producing-knowledge-explained/practical_experiences/theory_of_change, zuletzt geprüft am 22.03.2021.

Rehn, J.; Chrysikou, E. (2020): Developing concepts for early mental health prevention and treatment using the built environment. In: European Journal of Public Health 30 (Supplement_5). DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckaa165.977 .

Chrysikou, E.; Rehn, J.; Savvopoulou, E.; Petelos, E. (2020): Ecopsychosocial environments for health and mental health. In: European Journal of Public Health 30 (Supplement_5). DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckaa165.974 .

Rehn, Jonas (2020): Das Unbekannte als Lösungsstrategie. Designmethodologische Betrachtung von Prozessen in Richtung einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung. sofia-Diskussionsbeiträge zur Institutionenanalyse Nr. 20-3, Darmstadt 2020. ISBN: 978-3-941627-80-2 <>

Rehn, Jonas (2020): System Innovations in Design for Aging. A Research-Driven Multi-Stakeholder Framework for Transforming Health Systems. In: International Academic Forum (Hg.): The European Conference on Aging & Gerontology 2019. Official Conference Proceedings. EGen 2019. University College London, 08.12.2019. Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, S. 13-20.

Rehn, Jonas (2019): Gesunde Gestaltung. Priming- und Placebo-Effekte als gesundheitsverhaltenswirksame empiriegestützte Gestaltungsmethodik. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden.

Rehn, Jonas (2018): Design model for health behaviour change. In: Christer Kirsty, Claire Craig und Dan Wolstenholme (Hg.): Proceedings of the 5th European International Conference on Design4Health. Sheffield, UK, 4th – 6th September 2018: Sheffield Hallam University. <>

Schuster, Kai; Rehn, Jonas (2018): Gesunde Landschaften. In: Stefanie Hennecke, Harald Kegler, Kirsten Klaczynski und Daniel Münderlein (Hg.): Diedrich Bruns wird gelehrt haben. Eine Festschrift. Kassel, Hess: Kassel University Press, S. 103-112.

Rehn, Jonas (2018): Design für Körper und Geist. In: form 61 (279), S. 60-66.

Rehn, Jonas und Schuster, Kai (2017): Clinic Design as Placebo – Using Design to Promote Healing and Support Treatments. In: Behavioral Sciences. Nov. DOI10.3390/bs7040077  <>

Rehn, Jonas (2017): Quantified Health. In: form 60 (275), S. 46-51.

Rehn, Jonas (2017): Designer Quo Vadis? The Specialised Holist. In: form feature. Revisitng the Past.Special Issue (2), S. 142-148,

Rehn, Jonas (2017): Design Quo Vadis? Future Visions. In: form 60 (274), S. 83-98.

Rehn, Jonas (2017): Material wirkt. In: form 60 (271), S. 112.

Rehn, Jonas (2015): Gesundheit gestalten. In: form (261), S. 35-45.

Rehn, Jonas (2015): Design Education Meets Health – Architectur. Interview mit Roger Ulrich. In: form 58 (261), S. 47.
Rehn, Jonas (2015): Designer am Forschungsinstitut. In: form 58 (258), S. 78-83.

Rehn, Jonas (2014): Industriedesignausbildung – The Dutch style. In: form 57 (252), S. 66-73.

Rehn, Jonas (2014): Design braucht Wissenschaft. In: form 57 (251), S. 72-75.

Dr. Helena Müller holds a doctorate in psychology. Her research is dedicated to the relationship between people and their environments, with a particular focus on housing, aging, mental health, and sustainable development. She has professional experience in the field of environmental and architectural psychology in Germany and the Netherlands. She is a member of the International Association People-Environment Studies, the Initiative Psychologie im Umweltschutz, and the German Society for Gerontology and Geriatrics.
Contact: hm@gesunde-gestaltung.de

Müller, H., Rehn-Groenendijk, J. & Wasmer, A. (2023). Small-scale urban design interventions: A framework for deploying cities as resource for mental health and mental health literacy. Frontiers in Environmental Psychology, 14, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1112209.

Rehn-Groenendijk, J., Chrysikou, E. & Müller, H. (2022). Everyday Objects as therapeutic elements in psychiatric wards – A theoretical design framework to strengthen patients’ valorization and control. Design for Health, DOI: 10.1080/24735132.2022.2143157.

Müller, H., Rehn-Groenendijk, J. & Wasmer, A. (2022). Risk factors and potentials for fostering mental health and wellbeing in urban space. European Journal of Public Health, 32 (Supplement_3), ckac129.395. DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckac129.395

Freutel-Funke, T. & Müller, H. (2022). How spatial sensitivity enriches understanding transitions in childhood and later life. In A. Walther, B. Stauber, & R. Settersten (Hrsg.), Doing transitions – On the emergence of transitions in the life course (pp. 219-232). Cham: Springer Nature.

Müller, H. (2021b). On the psychological importance of control and valorisation in psychiatric environments. European Journal of Public Health, 31, (Supplement_3). DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckab164.872.

Müller, H. (2021a). Umzüge älterer Menschen in gemeinschaftliche Mehrgenerationen-Wohnprojekte. Opladen: Barbara Budrich.

Müller, H. & Oswald, F. (2020). An Intergenerational Approach to Perceived Housing, Journal of Aging and Environment, 34(3), 270–290. DOI: 10.1080/02763893.2019.1680129

Müller, H., Wanka, A. & Oswald, F. (2018). Wohnen und Wohnveränderungen im Lebenslauf. In F. Kolland, R. Rohner, S. Hopf, & V. Gallistl (Hrsg.), Wohnmonitor Altern 2018 (S. 51–62). Innsbruck, Wien, Bozen: Studien Verlag.

Expanded team

The Design Institute also uses an extensive interdisciplinary network of experts. These include medical specialists, nursing staff, sports scientists, architects and web developers. Depending on the project phase, they are actively involved or consulted as an expert advisory board for more in-depth knowledge.