The Healing Button Project
Creator | Speculative Design Strategist | Service Design
––In collaboration with Corey Chao & Rachel Murray
How might we use design and 3D fabrication to address trauma?
Our mission in this project was to explore the role of designers in coupling the challenges and enigmatic characteristics of disasters on one side with the potential to expand the capacities of communities through digital fabrication on the other. Our team chose to focus on the role of objects in creating personal resilience to heal from trauma and promote resiliency. For us, resilient people build resilient communities. Trauma, in this case, can be personal trauma, as well as disaster-related traumas.
The promise of digital fabrication for us wasn’t just about creating cheaper, and faster solutions in disasters - but to create local, personal and customizable solutions.
‘The Memory Button project’ is a conceptual service proposal. Our project suggests wedding the designer role together with 3D fabrication technology along with a therapeutic component. This project provides a strategic proposal to allow individuals the opportunity to share their survival story and in return to receive a personal customized 3D button that contains a particular image from their experience as a reminder to their resiliency. There are multiple parts to our proposal, the object, a place, and a communication material; all support each other in turning the designed object into an experience of healing.
Portability: the individual can take the object anywhere. Additionally, with the portability of 3D printers, the designer could take the machine with them to specific communities.
Customization: the object is personalized, and with that comes ownership of a concept.
Responsibility: this speaks to the changing role of the designer - designer as co-creator, facilitator, and listener rather than pure creator and manufacturer of a product, and offers a more direct involvement with the end users.
Dialogue: ultimately this is about healing from trauma, and empowerment of the individual - but as speculative design, perhaps it can open the dialogue about trauma itself.
A part of Corey's storyboard drawings explaining the service process.
Through this project, we raised issues of public/ private space and personal trauma, and the role of objects in it. Personalized memories of a disaster or trauma may be individual, but seeing their universality can be transformative. Perhaps seeing other people’s buttons and stories will help create a dialogue and lead to healing, and eventually resilience. This conversation expands the capacity of the community to respond. Objects serve as a symbol of survival - and perhaps resistance that leads to resilience.
Our process was straightforward:
Created a few hypotheses and areas to explore.
Discussed ideas with ‘domain experts’ - art therapist, psychologist, tattoo artist, people. who’ve experienced trauma.
Conducted secondary research on objects and trauma.
Created paper prototyping.
Ran paper prototype by small group of users.
Did production of artifacts.