Combining my uncommon perspective of being both a user and a designer with my research and experiments has led me to create commercial products to help people cope with the symptoms of common mental illnesses. Through my chosen study of industrial design, I am now able to address stigmas. I want to avoid sterility and medicalization in my designs in order to avoid the association of mental illness with sickness and sadness. Instead, I’m focusing on the integration and celebration of these products into daily use.
Light Therapy has been shown to be effective in treating some facing Seasonal Affective Disorder, chronic depression and other mood disorders (Rabin, Roni Caryn, “Light Therapy for Depression”). Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that normally begins in the fall and continues into the winter because of a decrease in exposure to sunlight. SAD lamps and light therapy boxes are used as a way to give off bright artificial light that mimics natural outdoor light.
Even though light therapy is effective in relieving symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and other mood disorders, SAD lamps are not engaging or comforting. They tend to be boxy-looking, medical, and sterile. Because the one I own is not a beautiful object, I tend to hide it when I am not using it so visitors don’t see it. It becomes a product associated with shame. In order to be effective, the user must sit about 16 to 24 inches from the light box for about 20 minutes. It’s easy to become disinterested or bored during that time. Why shouldn’t this daily routine be an enjoyable experience that the user looks forward to everyday instead of being a 20 minute task the user must complete?
View the full project here