Psycho-Aesthetics: Advanced Design Thinking Methodology

An instructor giving a lecture to students.


RKS is a globally-recognized design and innovation consultancy in California that uses a methodology called Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A) to design products and services that increase brand recognition and customer satisfaction. RKS is famous for products including the Kor Water Bottle and Teddy Ruxpin.

Psycho-Aesthetics brings together key insights from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to provide visual tools for story mapping customer experiences and visualizing the competitive landscape.

SCAD eLearning and RKS partnered to develop a course that taught students how to use Psycho-Aesthetics—the first course developed with an industry partner. As such, the course had to be approved by internal stakeholders, as well as the Chief Executive Officer (who developed P/A) and Chief Design Officer of RKS Design, which increased the complexity of stakeholder management. In addition, the look of the completed course had to align with both the SCAD and RKS brands.

  • Audience: Undergraduate and Graduate Design Students
  • Timeframe: 1 Year
  • Deliverables: 10-unit Master-shell Course (10 Weeks of Instruction)
  • Tools: Microsoft Word, Adobe Premiere, Basecamp, InVision, Sharpie Markers, Lots of Paper
  • My Role: Project Manager, Instructional Designer, Art & Film Director


  • develop a course that articulated the value of using P/A in all design disciplines including graphic, business, industrial, and fashion design
  • leverage video to give students access to insights from RKS’s CEO & CDO
  • align the visual style of all course materials with the RKS brand


This course required extensive collaboration across a cross-functional team including videographers, motion graphic artists, writers, instructional designers, and programmers. I provided direction for video and motion graphics, helping refine 12 hours of footage into 27, 3–5 minute videos that accurately articulated the Psycho-Aesthetics methodology. I ensured that the overall look of the course aligned with RKS-supplied brand guidelines and coordinated the integration of written and video content in the final course.

A laptop with an image on-screen of the word "Empower."

Video Sample: Benefits of Psycho-Aesthetics

Video and Motion Graphics Stills


Overall, the work is simply excellent. It’s a great job by you and the team and not a small undertaking.

Ravi Sawhney, CEO and Founder, RKS Design

PSYO 000 was a major success from a development standpoint as well as aesthetically and pedagogically. The course provided a strong presentation of the Psycho-Aesthetics methodology while aligning with and extending the RKS brand style. The CEO and CDO were thoroughly impressed with the presentation of the Psycho-Aesthetic content and the way it matched the style of their course materials perfectly. Students who took the course for the first time appreciated the thoughtful integration of videos and text and were successful in using the P/A process in their class projects.

Very impressed…gave me goosebumps a couple times.

Scott Clear, Chief Design & Innovation Officer, RKS Design


Through this project, I learned how to manage video production for eLearning course development, and I was challenged to create content in new ways. The complexity of the stakeholders’ needs and the scope of the course made it a rewarding challenge. One of the lasting personal successes from the course is that I gained a new set of design thinking and business strategy tools that I can apply in future projects

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