Oxford English Dictionary
Entangled slides remind me of my childhood. Playful chaos. Chaos, that’s how adult life feels; not playful anymore. The entangled slides tell me how I can play with my chaos, my Overwhelm. I pick my Overwhelms from the collection. A wave of relief and comfort overtakes me as I recognize tasks that I thought I only dealt with. Tasks that I’ve burdened myself with because I felt something was wrong with me for finding them impossible to do. In the collection, my burdening tasks are accompanied by typical overwhelming tasks; but that’s how they feel for me too, especially on my worst days. It is reassuring to see them on the same level, publicly normalized. It says, it's ok and normal to identify these tasks as overwhelming.
I choose my Overwhelms from the collection. Each one is small and precious yet filled with hope and encouragement. As I open the box, I hear the lid slide against the container, very little friction but enough to keep it closed. As I open it, the contents are revealed, five items in total: four sun-colored chips and a card. The chips are soft and warm, despite being metal. Each chip has a different symbol engraved on its face. The card gives them meaning. Seems that the answer to my Overwhelm is to break it down. Simple enough, I’ve heard it a million times before yet I’ve always had trouble doing it. I’ve struggled to come up with the smaller tasks inside each task, especially for these seemingly already small tasks. I place each task in one of the marks on the board holding the entangled slides.
Beads trace a path laid out for them. Laid out to confuse my sight. Laid out to please my visual senses. Seeing them fall as they make a swooshing sound as the metal of the beads graces the wooden path. When a bead reaches its destination and its journey is fulfilled I see my accomplishment. Finally, I can see them add up.
1. A structure consisting of a complex network of tunnels, paths, etc., deliberately designed or constructed so that it is difficult to find one’s way through; a maze.
2. A complex or confusing situation; an intricate system; a situation or condition from which it is difficult to extricate oneself; an entanglement.
After many turns, I made my way through. Making connections between different paths, paths I thought I had forgotten, abandoned, discarded. My goal is to understand how the environment around us affects our emotional state, our behaviour, our mental health. I seek a destigmatized idea of mental health, a way to show that it is a factor of everybody’s health meant to be prioritized as much as physical health, to expose the burden of frivolousness that it carries. I seek ways to burst the bubble that mental health lives in the world of design, to show that mental health should be as integrated in all designs as much as ergonomics and sustainability. I seek to integrate areas of design and psychology. Through product experience and cognitive behavioural sciences, I explore areas of play, nostalgia, aesthetics, functionality, human-centered design and everyday objects as well as neuroscience, depression, anxiety, stress, frustration and overwhelm.
I take different twists and turns both in research and design which lead me to the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth proposes to be a new typology of everyday products meant to fit our everyday activities and emotional states. As every object, it serves multiple functions, some obvious and some not. It serves as a way to externalize and objectify our personal Overwhelms. It becomes our companion and a helping hand as we try to balance our time. It concretizes our everyday accomplishments. It shows us we are not alone and we are all just trying to make our way through the labyrinth.
A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Masters in Industrial Design, in the department of Industrial Design, of the Rhode Island School of Design.
By Rebeca Gonzalez Morales
Rhode Island School of Design
Thesis Committee Chair
Thesis External Advisor
Text copyright © 2020 by Rebeca Gonzalez Morales Images copyright © 2020 by Rebeca Gonzalez Morales, except where otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.
Graphic design by Rebeca Gonzalez Morales and Valentin Bufler.