Chains to Constellations

Build Your Appointment

A tool to be used in a medical surgery waiting room that encourages and helps patients to prepare for their consultation- reducing stress, enhancing doctor to patient communication, reducing confusion and supporting good health literacy. The scroll of cards prompt patients to quickly write down and highlight information that will assist them in discussing health concerns with their doctor.

‘Make the most of your time in the waiting room by preparing for your appointment. Take a strip of appointment cards from below and fill them out while you wait to be called. Please feel free to write notes on the reverse side of the cards and take them home with you.’


Daisy Ginsberg

Daisy Ginsberg, Royal College of Art
Monday, 5th June, 3.30-5.00pm
1.06 Old Surgeons’ Hall
Designers often advocate that design makes things better. In promising a better future, they are not alone: engineers, marketers, politicians and scientists also invoke the imaginary of better, creating dreams that have very material effects. In some of these visions, “better” will be delivered by science and technology; in others, the consumption of designed things will better us or the world. “Better” itself has become a sociotechnical imaginary; progress, without the philosophical baggage. But better is not a universal good or a verified measure: better is imbued with politics and values. And better will not be delivered equally, if at all. “What is better?” and “Who gets to decide?” are questions with great implications for the way we live and hope to live. This seminar explores how critical design can be used to address these questions, while considering critical design’s complicated relationship to bettering, as a critical yet optimistic practice. Drawing on my experiences working amongst the architects of synthetic biology’s powerful dreams of better, I consider how critical design can question better, opening up the possibility of alternative dreams.

Further details:

This event is part of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Seminar Series

Chains to Constellations Projects

Design in the Age of Xanax

As much as there is a difference between a benign growth, and a vicious cancer – there is a difference between a simple grief, and a deep depression. People think of depression as being just sadness. It’s much, too much sadness and much, too much grief at far too slight a cause. Alprazolam, a sedative more commonly referred to as Xanax, is the most commonly prescribed drug in the developed world. It is addictive, unreliable and outrageously over-prescribed. A 2010 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that anti-depressants relieved symptoms in fewer than 25 percent of all patients, (seeing relapse in more than 70).

The reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, except that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication is preventative or symptom-suppressive, rather than curative – they aim to rebalance hormones within the brain, rather than specifically “heal” a portion of the body. Mental health treatments also have a greater effectiveness over more severe cases, for reasons relevant within psychiatry. The introduction of Xanax to the US market in 1981 was without fanfare, party-hats and shame. It was a lower-cost alternative to Valium, the then-most popular anxiety drug, holding the title for the past ten years.

It’s distributor, Upjohn (now Pfizer), had chosen to test the drug as a treatment for panic attacks alongside anxiety. Xanax became the first commercial drug to offer treatment for panic attacks, during a period when panic attacks changed in the public eye from an affliction once thought to be rare, to something nervous mothers joked about.
During the 1990s, Prozac did for depression what Valium had done for anxiety: de-stigmatising a mood disorder into a treatable illness that might be dealt with using a single pill. It is alien to think that in 1993, “Listening To Prozac”, a book riding the wave in popularising a fallacy that Prozac could “cure” depressed individuals, spent four months on the New York Times best-sellers list. Fictional novel “Prozac Nation” also succeeded in fetishising the stereotype of a young, damaged individual reliant on prescription anti-depressants as an achievable and healthy aesthetic.

Three decades later, and America is still a Xanax nation – it remains the most popular psychiatric drug, topping more recent contenders like the sleeping pill Ambien, and the anti-depressant Lexapro. Conversation around over-prescription, particularly for ADHD, has been recently popularised; but lacks solid alternatives to disparage the majority from turning to medication before thinking.

Most psyciatrists, including those at the NHS, have a ten-point list for dealing with acute feelings of anxiety or stress. At the most basic and initial level, the two are considered interchangable with feelings of guilt, worry, and symptoms of cyclic depression. In constructing a constellation for those within a social system of diagnosing and addressing mental health, we can better understand the powers and choices that play to effect positive change in the lives of individuals.

What the sets of interviews show are that within social spheres, there can be a great abundance of support in the form of friends and family – but that often, those affected don’t speak out in fear of being misjudged, or to have the situation escalated beyond their physical control. Those seeing problems develop in friends, on the other hand, are often afraid to speak out in-case they upset their friend or are concerned that they’re not equipped to deal with mental health.

Under a stressed health-service, individual users are encouraged to take their healthcare into further extremes of responsibility – and with resources now only used on the most urgent of cases, departments addressing non-physical injuries have felt the largest shortfall. Mental health wards had already had one of the lowest resource funds, behind only learning difficulty departments; even if anxiety and depression are considered the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

It is as Grahame Cumming, strategic Lead for Innovation at NHS Lothian, describes; “our patients have to get far higher up the Triangle of Care before we can justify intervention”. And in removing immediate healthcare for non-emergency situations, basic and preventable illnesses will often snowball into more dangerous and more costly problems for future healthcare professionals. And so in designing a solution to empower those feeling under anxiety, growing stress, and depression, we can in turn reduce stress on key areas of the NHS whilst also raising awareness and legitimising the importance of telling others if they feel they may have a mood disorder.

If we embed technology into an object that can help us regulate our breathing, we can effectively help those that suffer from panic attacks, and calm those suffering from anxiety or stress. I’ve found often that holding onto an object; a chair, an arm, the walls as they meet the floor, is often enough to give stability in the moments when I find myself losing lucidity. It can be reassuring, however, to know that an object can actively help through haptic feedback; and more importantly for the health practise, recommend whether an individual is needing specialist help.

Grasp is a tool for facing adversity, gaining acceptance, and starting recovery. It provides a platform from which you can take power over your anxiety and control your breathing in times of need.

Mental health issues are the single largest cause of burden worldwide. Almost half of all adults within the UK will have a diagnosable mental health illness, and of those undiagnosed, survey has found that almost 40% will turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol.

The prescription of Xanax, Prozac, and other hormone balancers has been shown to be unreliable with lower-risk patients; and under our current culture of health that emphasises efficiency and diagnosis, almost half of all mental health disorders are left untreated and unnoticed; often leading to a dangerous build-up of higher-risk cases several years into the illness.

Utilising Grasp, you are invited to reach out and have help in guiding yourself back to a place of present mind during difficult times. We might not always have people to reach out to, or feel it necessary to do so; and Grasp offers an object in which you can release anxieties without letting stress compound.

Grasp is designed to monitor heart-rate and breathing and through visual and haptic feedback, guide your senses back to a comfortable space. Sensors will also flag up any potential medical concerns that can be seen by a doctor; such as an irregular pulse and breathing, often caused by stress, or high heart-rates.

New Making

Kakukei, An Orchid’s Pot

Kakukei reveals in use the image of a floating world with an elegant lightness of being. An orchid, framed oblivious, by the eight crisp planes that define its form. A conversation in textures, materialities, and translucencies; the glass arrangement suspends a layer of water to provide an osmose reservoir for its carer. Whether drowned in moonlight or sun-basking as a fleck of mauve on a windowsill, the orchid spins gold from hard life, moving forth and toward the grand sky.

The project of New Making hasn’t been an exploration of orchids, but rather that of iterative styles; digital craft, and product assemblage. First inspired by the jumbling and complex iterative repair of Ernesto Oroza’s Objects of Necessity, and taking the collage-esque method by which his chairs were constructed into task to house an orchid; I quickly became fascinated with the applications of emerging manufacturing methods in aiding the removal of ornament and craft effort, and in elevating existing objects through new materialities.

Through Kakukei, I refine and give purpose to the sculptural forms of gone era; the octagonal vase a tradition within eastern Chinese and Japanese pottery, now re-birthed without ornament or the physical effort required in craft, for more individuals to experience. Through utilising 3D-printed forms for mould-making, I was able to iterate rapidly in cast glass; a process traditionally very labour-intensive and heavily crafted now re-appropriated for an age of modern consumer culture.

From the onset, and as a quirk of the Cuban-inspired prototyping method of assemblage, the final object is constructed of very few materials. The glass reservoir is constructed from a single piece of solid glass, and the internal chamber of only two pieces. The hydrochomic coating is bonded to the outer surface of the Polylactide plastic pot. This streamlining of materials makes the object aesthetically minimalist, and easy to mass-produce.

Throughout the project I had made 10 iterative prototypes, one each week; and have displayed them below.

If we were to look forward and attempt to make Kakukei more efficient for mass production, it would require re-thinking some of the finer details of the product.  The current iteration utilises solid cast glass to achieve the frosted body of the pot, which is an incredibly labour-intensive process, even with the allowances of rapid prototyping to help in form-making. In exploring multiple material options, I feel that injection-moulded acrylic would provide the closest and most cost-efficient replacement to the cast glass; with a slight frosted texture. Acrylic is more hygienic than the cast glass, without any imperfections or air pockets that could harbour bacteria.


Projects Social Narratives

La Moment

Video Link:


Author:Yifu Liu

Social Narratives

Modern Surveillance


Surveillance has changed and become an almost integral art of our lives – from monitoring all our bodily functions with fitbits to having smart appliances in our houses, the art of surveillance has subtly shifted. It’s now all about the data. But not just any data, Metadata; data of data, the seemingly harmless information which we’re continually reassured that ‘those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear’. Though the evidence seems to point elsewhere; the former director of the CIA and NSA has stated that ‘We kill people based on Metadata’ with evidence to support that.

Data is at the heart of it all, so how can I make data meaningless? I thought of means of blocking it, but reasoned that would simply result in an increase in its value. Eradicating a need for data, having everything out in the open is simply unfeasible and removing yourself to a cabin unknown to anyone in the middle of nowhere isn’t an appealing option. So I thought of muddying the waters – maintain what data is there but pollute it with other data so as you know it’s corrupt, but can’t distinguish it. Collecting your data and but exchanging it with someone else to no longer make it relevant to yourself.

The infeasibility of this soon became apparent – metadata is a two way process, we cannot tamper or change it as its not only on our side, but on the side of the network providers, website owners, etc. which have the information that their site was visited. Like a phone call; deleting it from your call log doesn’t remove it from theirs. So how could I make it more tangible? Well cookies are small data files which track our online activities and even location, which can easily be found on a mobile/computer. So I can up with something that captures your cookies, physically showing them for you to then exchange with someone else when you’ve collected enough. The Cookie Jar.

The idea is simple really; a phone case with removable ‘Jar’ which stores cookies. An app comes with it, synchronising your device to the case. The more you browse, the more cookies you collect, then simply exchange them with someone else.

This video roughly demonstrates how the Cookie Jar works.


Social Narratives

Cultural Tourism & Globalisation

Globalisation is the process of the world becoming more interconnected as a result to the increase in cultural exchange and trade between different countries.

From globalisation as the starting point of this project, it branches off to the many aspects of cultural diversity, eventually leading to my topic, Cultural Tourism.

Within cultural tourism, I have explored several issues in regards to the relationship between the host countries/ communities and the tourists themselves.

(Brainstorms Using Post-It Notes)

(Visualise the thought process through using mind map)

But What is cultural tourism?

According to Melanie Smith (2010:30), cultural tourism can be defined as a type of tourism that focuses on cultural attractions, activities and practices, allowing the exchange of different cultures and gaining cultural experiences, hence celebrate cultural diversity. Which are the major motivating factors for cultural tourists to travel. There are also sub-sectors within cultural tourism, including the heritage tourism, arts tourism and indigenous tourism.

All the research leads up to my own narrative on cultural tourism. Cultural tourism is already the trend in the travel industry which leads to longer stay. Long stay leads to increase in quantity of tourists, whilst lowering the quality of their travel experiences not to mention the decrease in quality of life/ community in host countries.

In this design project, I intend to create a design where it recreates that time and space constraint resulting in lowering the damages done to the host community and the improvement in travelling quality.

My initial idea was to visualise time to recreate the time constraints. However, this is not sufficient enough to express my narrative, which leads to my final design.

The finalised idea is a wearable/ attachable device where it tracks the users’ (which will be tourists) time and location, using instant feedback collected from the local community to determine the flow/ amount of tourists.

The main functions of Watcher are:

a) Visualises Time – Provides an alternative method to create time constraint

b) Visualises Crowd/ Flow – Provides real-time feedbacks on how congested the area is to creates space-constraint

Social Narratives

Humanity in space – The fate of the new frontier.

In a world plagued by pollution and greed, humanity begins its search for a new home and new possibilities in space.

Yale Universities Environmental Performance Index ( is a system that awards countries a score based on factors that include climate, energy, biodiversity and agriculture. Countries that rank higher on the index are awarded larger and more valuable portions of Mars. This is an incentive to make conscious environmental decisions on Earth and an assurance that the future of Mars will be well protected by those with good environmental intentions.

Ice is recognised as a vital asset in the development of humanity in space. The globe shows accurate geographical representations of both surface and subterranean ice. This is considered in the allocation of land in conjunction with Yale universities ‘EPI’ statistics.

New Making Projects


Billy Dixon, Joseph Revans and Joanna Spreadbury

The Soundbox is an accessible mp3 player made in collaboration with the Golden Group at Cherry Road Resource Centre. Our clients were a group of older service users at the centre, who live with early onset dementia in addition to multiple physical and cognitive disabilities. From our time spent getting to know the Golden Group, we discovered the importance of music to their lives. However, all of the devices used to select music for the group utilised touch screens, which were inaccessible to them.

In response to this need, and after extensive development, we produced an accessible interface for media selection, to bring greater agency to the service users. The device uses a deck of RFID “Soundcards”, which when tapped on the Soundbox trigger a specific song or sound to play from an integrated mp3 player.

Although this was a 4 week project, as a group we are planning to continue working on this project, to bring further functionality and malleability to the final artefact.

Thanks to Cherry Road Resource Centre, Artlink, Fixperts and Dave Murray-Rust.