Preserving Human Dignity
Self directed / pro-bono
Preserving Human Dignity
The project considers the challenges we experience during sexual maturity and how indignity manifests itself. In an attempt to resolve a moment of angst for Hemiplegics [semi-paralysis condition], the one-handed condom wrapper is a new design which addresses the impractical opening style of contemporary condom packaging; combating feelings of awkwardness and boosting a persons confidence at a pivotal moment.
The concept of the mechanism of this perforated package has a far reaching potential for application, especially in the medical field as for instance adhesive plasters and sterile packs during surgery procedures.
Preserving Human Dignity
An inclusively designed one-handed condom condom wrapper to preserve (a Hemiplegic’s) human dignity and feelings of confidence. The project considers the challenges we experience during sexual maturity and how indignity manifests itself. In an attempt to resolve a moment of angst for Hemiplegics [semi-paralysis condition], the one-handed condom wrapper is a new design which addresses the impractical opening style of contemporary condom packaging; combating feelings of awkwardness and boosting a persons confidence at a pivotal moment.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Childhood Hemiplegia is a condition which affects one side of the body from birth with semi-paralysis symptoms similar to that of a stroke. It is caused by damage to the brain which can make simple tasks we take for granted surprisingly difficult. Common effects of the condition include an involuntary contraction of muscles limiting function and numbing the senses in the affected side, and a reduction in cognitive and spatial feedback/performance. This can lead to problems sequencing information, a lack of comprehension of social situations, low self esteem and a reduction in dexterity non-hemiplegics take for granted. The brief, to afford dignity through design, evolved from a series of insights (obtained through enthnographic and observational research) that were reduced to a single focus and un-met need. Unwrapping a condom can be a stressful experience; using two hands is hard enough, having full use of only one hand makes it nearly impossible [and obviously you are encouraged not to use your teeth]. The challenge this presented meant the outcome would have to be functional and efficient, socially acceptable and more importantly desirable for all (and not limited to those with the effects of a specific condition). To make this acceptable was one challenge, to then make this experience a desirable one would require a slightly greater feat.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Stylistically the design remains true to conventional wrappers, avoiding anything too radical or foreign in appearance in order to establish a level of familiarity and intuition to ensure it's usability. A durable outer foil layer with perforated design protects an inner membrane which preserves the condom itself. This can be broken when an achievable amount of force is exerted by fingers and thumb, releasing the condom and avoiding awkwardness. The design of the new wrapper focuses on the gesture of opening and how this can add charm to the action. It attempts to create a gratifying experience as flawless as the moment that exists in the imagination. A finger-snap un-wrap gives users the chance to prove their prowess. With a flick of the finger the packaging breaks revealing the condom between finger and thumb, transforming a potential mood killer into something that is positive and captivating; a mood enhancing tool and next generation contraceptive experience.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The project began with the simple intent of affording dignity through a designed intervention and is grounded in true human need obtained through a user-centered design process examining the effects of Hemiplegia. Research and discussions with subject matter experts revealed a number of effects of the condition on peoples lives and how these could be transformed into design opportunities. Hand Dystonia is an involuntary contraction and twisting of muscles with very obvious physical effects, limiting function and dexterity and a general numbing of the senses in the affected side. Barely conscious of their 'Hemi Half', Hemiplegics struggle to gain feedback of their actions within an environment and fail to obtain the sense of spacial awareness we take for granted. The interlinking of hands and feet as a baby is a small but vital experience teaching us the beginnings of interaction and tactile feedback; without these experiences Hemiplegics capacity to interact with objects and environments is reduced. Cognitive effects include the ability to process and sequence information, physically crossing the midline of their body to their affected side, and lack of understanding or comprehension of social situations and consequently low self esteem; particularly when entering new social groups. From the research and through feedback the project began to focus to the experience of growing up and major moments of social anxiety during young adulthood and sexual maturity. The example of opening a condom wrapper is one of many complexities which need to be addressed and my decision to explore this as a design opportunity was encouraged by the appreciation and support from the community surrounding the project. The more empathic anecdotes I heard about disastrous condom tales, the more archaic and insensitive current condom wrappers appeared to be. Through an iterative process of research, idea generation and testing a game changing design emerged which has, since it's release into the media and exhibitions, received extraordinary support from a global audience. Such an explosive reaction revealed the success of the design's inclusive approach and a desire to adopt the one-handed condom wrapper in the hope of a more seamless experience. This design for a one-handed condom wrapper is sympathetic to the hinderances of a condition and provides a solution to a situation we might all face at some point in time, but the problem is more acute for Hemiplegics.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The one-handed condom originally began as a healthcare project attempting to target the specific needs of Hemiplegics but through the design process has revealed a solution appreciated by, and benefiting all. With increasing feelings of awkwardness between partners [and added pressure from surrounding social groups] the one-handed condom wrapper enables a behaviour making it easier to do things we all take for granted, and removes the opportunity for indignity to arise. The solution is really just a manifestation of common sense - why is a condom an obstacle and hinderance instead of an enhancing moment? The design was born out of a project that looked at a specific condition and through it's realisation, it actually had a value that everyone could appreciate or connect with and is an effective example of inclusive design. Testing and feedback has revealed a satisfying level of intuition and appreciation of the solution - an encouraging example where designing for a disability results in a product that is better for everyone.