4th Year Graduating Projects

Design for Longevity

The purpose of my project is to investigate ways to change consumer behaviours and habits to make consumption more mindful.
My project is divided into three layers, 1) Mindless consumption; 2) Saturated market; 3) Sustainability; all of which have the objective to not deplete our planet from its resources.
Overall, the goal is to design for longevity.


Gateway 1:

In the first round of making prototypes, my ideas were fixated on the notion of what is ‘essential’. This initial experiment involved making chair prototypes, exploring their essential or inessential characteristics, ultimately aiming to find their truest form.

Upon executing this exercise, I realised that there is no ‘one’ framework to define what is essential, it will be different for everyone.

Also, due to the fact that there are already so many chairs in the market, these new chairs do not make a distinction with what already exists and does not portray the ‘essential’ in any way. 

In re-thinking this idea about what is ‘essential’, I looked deeper into how and why we consume, learning about our emotional attachment to objects and how that affects our habits as consumers. There is a constant state of desire that will most likely never be satisfied, as one always strives for more. These cyclical loops of desire and yearning for excess often draw the consumer towards objects that have a short life span to satisfy the temptation and brief moments of pleasure.

Gateway 2:

This led me to disentangle words that are affiliated with consumption: desire, renewal, self-identity, newness, excess, status, display, unnecessary, temptation…

Playing with this notion of desire, I began to explore objects of sentimental value that may over time become essential to us. We do not want to discard them, rather it’s these objects that we want to keep for the rest of our lives. Objects that are symbolic of specific moments in our lives, storing mementoes and memorabilia.

I must make a disclaimer that there is irony in this exploration. It is almost promoting consumption and accumulation of things. But I aim to make something that enhances our sentimental value towards those objects that are meaningful to us.

To reach this aim, I interviewed various people, asking them to share with me their collection of sentimental objects. The group of people interviewed varied in age group to have a broad depiction of what could be ‘essential’ to each individual. They described each of the objects’ backstory and why they are emotionally attached to them. With this, I collected a database of what this sentimentality looks like. 

Example of a participant’s collection of sentimental objects
Collections of sentimental objects of different participants.

The following are some of the conclusions I made from these interviews:

– Most objects are not purchased by themselves but rather are gifts from other people; they behave as physical and symbolic representations of these particular people
– Some of the objects are stored away or even hidden in boxes or drawers, rarely used daily
– One of the participants is emotionally attached to the objects she uses for work, meaning she interacts with them daily
– Photos and jewellery are particularly meaningful and the most common objects of sentimental value

I realized that you cannot design something that can become sentimental over time, but rather you can design to heighten its value. Using this data, I made three different prototypes aiming to enhance the objects’ sentimental value.

Prototype 1:

This prototype alludes directly to Wunderkammern (16th-century cabinet of curiosities, that were used for scientific development and also influenced how things are displayed). Using glass jars, the objects of sentimental value were placed inside. I think there is an enhancement of value and each of the objects has more presence.

Prototype 2:

Using the data, I designed an object that is more specific to one of the participant’s collections. The aim was to spotlight each object and in observing the prototype, it looks like a structure used in window shop displays. The corresponding participant agreed that their value was heightened, but it wouldn’t be something that she’d have displayed in her home.

The structure with one of the participant’s collections of objects of sentimental value.

The aim was to see how the value can be enhanced and how the form changes when putting in different objects. This particular prototype only works for a specific collection of objects, so there is something quite personal about producing these structures.

Prototype 3:

Being that the other two prototypes were very specific to two different people, I wanted to make something that was more general and could be applied to a wider audience. This third prototype was made to be configurable so that it can be suited to any user’s needs.

Individual wooden sticks were joined together using magnets, as well as wooden boards to create designated sections where sentimental objects could be displayed on. I think this prototype is the most versatile and the most playful, but also the most impersonal.

If we think about our empty shelves, they too are impersonal, it is only when we fill them with our personal belongings, they begin to feel more customised.

Overall, these three prototypes were not successful in testing this sense of sentimentality. They were not effective in getting a clear resolution as some of the ideas were rushed and did not reach the level of depth I aimed for. However, I was able to get an insight into object-user relationships through the interviews, understanding how people interact and keep their personal items.


In conversation about sentimental objects, there is a key statement I got quite often: “I could get rid of everything I own if I just replace them with new things”. The notion of replacement I think is something that could be interesting to research further in my project.

  • We must replace our unsustainable behaviour towards consumption with conscious and mindful consumers.
  • We must replace unsustainable materials and products.
  • We must find ways to replace the current state of the market with products that will not deplete the earth from its resources.

4th Year Graduating Projects

Digital Communication

For gateway 2 the direction of my project has been digital communication focussing on making it closer resemble face-to-face communication, for both the work from home market and families and friends living apart. The three prototypes targeted different areas of digital communication with the aim of gathering findings from all three that might be useful in creating a more immersive feeling, and therefore more lifelike form of communication.

These three areas were:

+ The addition of short uneditable subtitled videos to work-related messaging apps with the aim of better conveying human emotion.

+ Making use of peripheral vision as a stimulus for those working from home.

+ Using motion control to create a more immersive chatting experience.

These three areas will be explained below in relation to their respective prototypes, and the findings will be discussed at the end of each prototype description.

Prototype 1

The addition of short uneditable subtitled videos to work-related messaging apps with the aim of better conveying human emotion.

From some discussions with people who actively work from home either due to the pandemic or had previously been working at home prior to the pandemic, I was able to highlight some issues that they had found problematic with digital communication. The area that I have chosen to explore is how to better convey tone and human emotion as I found that a lot of people find text-based messages regarding work degrading and lacking in tone, something that they also find difficult to emulate in their own text-based messages.

This prototype would allow individuals to record short video messages and have subtitles added automatically. These messages would then be sent to the receiving party immediately after being recorded and would automatically pop up on the receiver’s screen with the aim of creating a message that better conveys tone and emotion.

Hypothesis: The addition of a video to short work-related messages will feel closer to face-to-face communication that would happen in an office environment and therefore heighten the emotional connection between the two individuals.

To test this prototype I edited a short video that would resemble a working prototype and asked a number of individuals to watch the video and comment on the addition of these short video messages and their feelings after receiving these messages. I have attached this video below.


Many of the participants said that it was nice to hear a voice and see a face, and liked that they didn’t have to click anything for it to pop up, saying that this made it feel closer to real life as in an office people would pop up to them without them having to fully remove themselves from work to listen to them. They also found that the messages sounded less passive-aggressive, and could imaging themselves sending messages and it being easier to convey their tone and would ultimately take less time out of their schedules. One thing that was found though was that it would be annoying if these messages popped up during work calls.


The addition of a physical busy/active button that would allow the user to very easily share whether or not they are free to receive messages. It was also noted that the addition of a log or history of messages would be helpful if you missed messages or if there was lots of information to process.

Prototype 2

Making use of peripheral vision as a stimulus for those working from home.

This was a self identified theory that I chose to test in this prototype. In an office full of people, your peripheral vision is stimulated throughout the day with people getting up to use the loo, or to make a coffee, or simply to come and chat. This is something that I believe is missing from the home office environment.

Hypothesis: The stimulation of the peripheral vision with movement will communicate the presence of other individuals and emulate a shared working environment.

In order to test this, I build a curved display that I then attached a mirror to reflect the motion of the user, this I believe would emulate the movement of other people around you in a shared office environment.


Movement was noted but it was too close to the screen to be noted in the peripheral vision. Sadly the mirror also made it too obviously their own reflection so failed to emulate the feeling of others. One thing that was noted though was that the peripheral vision was seen as a less intrusive means of communication, something that might be able to be used for notifications to seperate them from the work on the screen. Another aspect that was noted throught the testing of this prototype was non-verbal office based communication such as when to stop for lunch or when to clock off at the end of the day, something that would be easily seen in an office as people leave their desks, yet difficult to read from a home office.


Use this curved screen as a notification system to make notifications feel less intrusive during the work day. The next improvement would be the ability to convey non-verbal office communication such as when people are stopping for lunch or when they are clocking off at the end of the day.

Prototype 3

Using motion control to create a more immersive chatting experience.

The aim of this prototype was to test the use of movement within video calls, and if translating the movement of each party on a video call to the movement of the camera of the other user would make for a more intutive video call experience.

Hypothesis: The addition of movement controlled by parties on video calls will increase the immersive feeling of that call and therefore heighten the emotional connection between both parties.

To test this I designed a low tech movable arm that would allow one user to move the camera of the other and therefore allow them to explore the surrounds of the individual that they were chatting to. I made the two parties wear headphones and chat through there video call to make sure they were communicating through the prototype and therefore truely testing the immersive nature of the product. A video of this test can be seen below.


The design was successful in making the call more immersive and made individuals feel more comfortable in a conversation as it allowed them to explore the other users environment, putting them at ease. One area that it didn’t do as expected was in gestures, I believed that it would be used to gestate, ie moved up and down when answering yes to questions, but upon asking it was found that because it was controlled by the hand it didn’t feel natural to gestate like that. One downside to this prototype was that it was quite distracting for me on the side of the non-controller as I had to look at the screen to see the other user which meant I was unable to maintain eye contact with the camera, which also reduced the immersive nature of the product from my side.


One addition to this prototype would be controlling the camera with head movement, this would make the movement of the camera feel more intuitve and therefore make the call feel more immersive. The other addition to this design would be the placement of a screen along side the camera meaning that you would be able to continue to focus on the screen as well as the camera and then maintain better eye contact with the user you are chatting to.

Re-foccused project statement

The re-framed focus of my project is an exploration of the inclusion of other senses (ie movement & peripheral vision) in the design of digital communication to create a more immersive and intuitive experience, focusing on both remote working and connecting families in different locations.

Next Stages

One area of findings from these prototypes that stood out was non-verbal communication within the office that is not replicated in the home environment, these forms of communication also help to create a community that is missing when working in a home office and an issue that I believe needs to be addressed.

Areas to Explore

+ What does a fully digital world look like?
+ What should we look to avoid in a digital world?
+ How to emulate all nessessary human interactions digitally
+ What makes human interactions feel inately human?
+ Where do communities form?
+ Suspension of Disbelief
+ Mapping Spaces

The areas of these prototypes that I will continue to explore are the addition of movement into video calls to futher develop the immersive experience, and the use of peripheral vision in notifications to create a less invasive from of communication and notification.