Michal (Micki) Unterberg
Simple design rooted in deep study and meaning. Bringing independence to dementia patients through design in a worthy subject. – Kate
Scopo is a set of tableware that supports and creates new eating utensils based on the Dementia patient's laws of perception. The concept of my project is to prolong the ability of self feeding while maintaining the sense of dignity and independence when conventional utensils are no longer functional. Dementia perception translated into eating utensils.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?
Scopo is meant to give a new perspective to the caregiver. It redesigns the dementia patient’s environment from his point of view with the intention to maintain his sense of dignity and independence for a longer period of time. The caregiver will broaden his understanding of the patient’s changing world by accepting these new objects as the new standard of living. Family members may think that the person is not trying hard enough or is being deliberately uncooperative when, in fact, that is just the disease process. Breaking an activity into simple steps and talking the person through it one step at a time, can turn a complicated task such as getting dressed or eating, into a manageable one.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
My project focuses on the inside world of the Dementia patient. What is it that he really sees? How does he comprehend and experience his surroundings? And how can I make that come true? What is a clock when you no longer know what a clock is? Is a non complete spoon still functional? Instead of trying to help the patient from 'our' point of view, I decided to truly understand and learn what it's like to be in their world. Their mindset. From that understanding, I tried to create objects that speak their language.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 process of this project was long, intensive and psychologically tiring at times. The Alzheimer's world became my world for an entire year. I read hundreds of medical and personal articles, books and watched movies on the topic. I made weekly visits to daycare homes for Dementia patients plus weekly visits to the patients who lived at home. In order to better understand their way of thinking and seeing, I tested different theories and thoughts I had in all different ways. Such as games with drawing, talking and building. I was in constant contact with numerous types of doctors, manly those who specialize in Dementia and geriatrics. Every step of the way was documented and I was able to study very closely their habits and ways of eating by filming everyday and re-watching them.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.)
From the many hours of observations and meetings with people suffering from this disease, each one living in his or her unique stage, I've come to realize one significant universal wish - the wish to remain independent as long as possible. Scopo tableware comes to grant that wish by understanding and interpreting the Alzheimer’s laws of perception into a visual and feasible language. There is a whole world of reasoning, function and practicality that lives in every line, shape, size, color, material, texture and even the overall emotional feel of the product. These indications are not necessarily visible to the naked eye, similar to the invisible hidden world of the Alzheimer’s disease. There is so much more behind what is put in front of us. What you see is not always what you get…6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
The context of the project pretty much stayed the same through out the research. It was the question of 'where am I taking this to?' That was constantly changing. How can I be a help to these people? What is it that they need?