Class has moved on from nature-influenced design to empathic design. I think I enjoy discussing empathic design more than the other topics we have gone through because empathic design is very relatable to everyone. To design something that is truly functional and truly helpful to a person, it is imperative to step into the client’s shoes and imagine their struggles and their victories. Being empathetic makes a person feel like they are understood and can help make a product or experience more meaningful to them.
The Paul Bennett TED talk was really interesting and enlightening. He partnered with a hospital to try to see the ways the hospital could be more empathetic with their patients and make their patients more comfortable and comforted. Hospitals seem to be scary, lonely, and bare, but that doesn’t mean they have to seem that way forever. Paul Bennett had one of his partners lay in a hospital bed and “receive treatment” for a few days. Doing this brought attention to the details that are ignored by doctors and nurses, but highly noticed by the patients laying in the beds. The “patient” noticed that he was staring at the ceiling most of the time, and that the ceiling was bare and boring. This brought the empathic idea that something, like a mural, should be put on the ceiling to entertain the patient. I enjoyed this TED Talk because it really explored the idea that empathic design really is stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing their experiences through their eyes.
My oldest item that I brought to reflect on was my green blanket that I have had since I was a baby. The blanket has been well-used and well-loved, and it shows. It has a lot of tears and holes in it, but it has deep meaning for me. My blanket is an object that brings me comfort and makes me think of home whenever I get homesick. It’s an object that, when I was younger, I could not go anywhere without. Now it’s mainly an object that brings back memories to my mind.
I spoke with my grandmother during spring break to see what challenges she faces on a daily basis. My grandmother has back problems, and it causes problems in other areas of her body too. She has trouble with standing up straight, getting out of chairs, and balancing, and seems to be in pain a lot of the time. She gets injections in her back once a month that help a lot, but she still feels weak sometimes. We are going to Europe this summer and she really wants to be in good physical shape by then. So I suggested that we should focus on one thing at a time and try to tackle her balancing issues. I have done tai chi a few times to de-stress, but it also helps and strengthens balance. I recommended to her that we should start doing this together 2-3 times a week to get ready for our trip. We did tai chi twice this week and she already feels better about her balance.