Archives for the month of: December, 2011

I PICKED AND PLUCKED out preliminary ideas from the 101 sketches that stood out to me, while also taking into account which ones resonated with my co-designers. I redrew them into illustrator for a Pecha Kucha styled presentation.

The general theme was adapting everyday objects to depict something which reflected depressive behaviours.

The cups for instance, appear to be normal until the user picks it up to find the handle is purposely broken (i wanted a possibly for the handle to be attached with magnets or something).

The dishware and utensils are equip with malfunctions to make the use intentionally difficult, as if they would take twice the time to use.

The bed is a reflection of the difficulty of getting out of bed. This branched to furniture which has a disability, like the table that has one leg an inch higher than the rest.

The night lights were suppose to be peculiar creatures that had little purpose, but took up space.

The clocks each represented hours, minutes and seconds passing, respectively. For those who are depressed, there is an obsession with time- either coming and going to quickly or passing too slowly.

The scales were an idea refined from fall 2010 which ask the question, what if you could measure sadness? Would a beaker of tears outweigh a stack of emo poetry?

Recounting this process, it’s strange to think that none of these ideas came into frution. Oh well. That’s the design process for you!

THE CURIOUS CHALLENGE OF THIS PROJECT is to see the unseen by capturing a mental disorder as a manifestation. I constantly ask myself, what does depression physically feel like? What can it look like? I asked my co-designers what their initial thoughts were about their own depression, these quotes helped inform my 100 sketches.

Some of my favourite quotes:

“i’m so small inside this body”
“i’m protecting them by hiding it from them”
“makes me feel like a ghost”

Scroll of 101 Sketches

FROM MY PREVIOUS POST, I described my personal/emotional involvement with the subject of this project. Before I even knew I would be slapped in the face with Depression, I had always been curious about more conceptual themes of design. In third year at Emily Carr University, as I watched my peers wrestle with their graduation projects, I spent time filtering through existing designs which exemplified what I wanted to achieve with my own project.

These are three designs which had the most impact on the direction I would follow:

Non-therapeutic Tools of Grieving • Matt Coombes

When I initially started thinking about themes to consider for my grad project, I looked into grieving rituals. I looked at my family’s traditions as to how we honour those who have passed and began some research when I found this. Single Tear Catcher honours a moment by capturing a tear in a vial; the vial is sealed with a cork and housed in a box with black ribbon with a scroll to write important details of significance. This object was inspired by a solitary tear shed when the designer attended a funeral.

Matt Coombes looks to provoke discourse about grief with a collection based on experiences with grieving. He uses personal narratives as means of informing the objects for the collection. His integration of playfulness for what seen as a hushed subject matter, exudes the power of design.

Carbon Copies • Nadine Jarvis

I stumbled upon this seemingly simple pencil case on NotCot only to discover a cathartic functionality. The graphite in this set of pencils is substituted with cremated remains (the human body can produce 240 of carbon ash) which can be sharpened in the pencil case. As the pencils are sharpened, the remains return to the case, acting as an urn. Only one pencil can be taken at a time, but there are enough to last a lifetime.

Nadine Jarvis‘s work poetically speaks about post mortem rituals and challenges social conventions surrounding death and grieving. Her ability to speak about taboo subjects in a provoking manner has captured my imagination, and enticed the element of engaging discourse within my practice.

Carbon Copies by Nadine Jarvis

Design Fancy • Matt Brown

If you ever graze through Core77’s blog, you may have crossed the hilarity that is Design Fancy, a collection of biographies dedicated to fictional designers and their fictional designs. Perhaps you have read about Thomas Ruby, the controversial designer behind “TuneDrink”, a device which uses particle spectrology to create alcoholic drinks via sound waves. My personal favourite is the entry about Quebecois Cyprien Côté, who expressed his love for all natural things with his designs. His first creation was “Chant de Baleines”, a whalesong radio that can tune in to majestic whales from around the world.

Matt Brown‘s sense of humour and fun compelled me to evaluate the power of narrative. His stories and designs are so convincing and entertaining that it is difficult to believe these are not real. This whimsy and curiosity reminds me why I love design in the first place.

Chant de Baleines by Cyprien Côté (Matt Brown)

THE HEAD VS HEART IS A GRADUATION PROJECT which initially began Fall of 2010 focusing on ways to promote emotional transparencies for those with depression, and how objects can embrace cathartic thought processes as means of healing. I took a risk by investing in a subject very close to my own heart and my own experiences.

As I looked inwards, I knew that it was too vague; this alluded to my floundering level of interest as my personal struggle with depression (having been diagnosed in the spring of 2010 with major depressive disorder) dissolved my abilities to focus and function. I took a leave of absence that fall, leaving the project on hiatus.

Illustration from Red Tree by Shaun Tan

When I returned with a new energy, I came to some clear decisions about what I wanted to do by asking myself why I want to do it. I feared that this was a selfish exploration but quickly learned that my struggles with this disorder only compelled further investigation. It is a difficult task to explain something as abstract emotion. If it were a broken leg, I wouldn’t feel as if I had to justify why I felt discomfort. Not only do I still have a difficult time communicating my internal battles with myself, but with my loved ones. I knew that I could not be the only one who harboured this darkness, this detachment from understanding one’s disability. To expose one’s vulnerability is a feat. I want to help with that process and provide a range of designed objects to speak of those struggles.

In the beginning of the semester, after all the students presented their intentions for their graduation project, the question that drifted over all our heads was, “why do you want to do this?” and I felt a confidence knowing that I knew exactly why.

As the new year is about to sweep us into a weary haze, it appears to be the best time to revise this blog. Please check back as more process about this project is posted in the coming days.

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