During our final work at Jönköping University we got the following brief to create a furniture for to exhibit at Stockholm Furniture Fair 2019:
We want to create a dialogue about discrimination, equality, needs, accessibility and equal treatment.
Within design we talk a lot about needs. How do we meet needs, and for whom? How do we feel included or excluded?
The students have created seven strong stories, each analyzing and reflecting on different needs, and on different grounds for discrimination. The stories have been used as inspiration and are conveyed, directly or indirectly, through the furniture shown here.
The aim of the project has been to create furniture that is beautiful, innovative and functional, but also convey something more. We want to pay attention to a topic that we think is important. We want to open up for dialogue and bring up thoughts.
The result is this furniture named ASK. In Swedish the word ASK have tree different menings: ask, ash and box.
The project started with every group creating a story they wanted to tell based on a subject connected to the brief. We decided we wanted to highlight the issues with mental illness and came up with this story based on a group members life:
It’s in the middle of the summer break. I am twelve years old and I’m at my mom’s workplace. A small child. A fire. An ambulance. A police car. Dad comes to pick me up. Mom is ill.
A girl from school calls our landline. She says that she read the paper, asks what happened and wonders if I want to talk about it. I don’t understand. Dad says don’t worry about it. What’s wrong with mom?
Mom’s back home. When she’s not at the hospital she is perfectly healthy. At least that’s what I believe, because the only time her illness is mentioned is when dad picks me up from school and tells me that she’s ill.
Mom is coming home only to leave again, over and over again. She is my best friend but she keeps on letting me down. I don’t get it. Why doesn’t she take her medicine?
I’m angry. I’m so terribly angry with her. Instead of talking, I scream. I scream so loud that I sometimes scare myself, and I scream about everything else but the actual issue. My mom is ill, and nobody is talking about it.
Mom calls me up one day from the hospital. She is crying her heart out, telling me that she’s got diagnosed with cancer. The phone slips through my hand and I fall to the floor. Mom is going to die.
The phone rings a second time. My brother is on the line. He rushed to the hospital in panic, but once he got there he realized the truth. Mom hasn’t got cancer, she’s at the psychiatric ward. Again.
My mom is bipolar, we should have talked about it.
Our story, based on a true situation, reflects the feelings of being left alone to cope with something that’s incomprehensible. We turned the feelings we felt reading our story into a concept.
ASK is a storage furniture in shape of a chest upheld by an undercarriage with strained leather straps, that is forming a shelf underneath the chest to put the lid on when the chest is open. The chest symbolises the emotional baggage that a person with a mental disorder carry. Opening the lid of the coffin means that you’re sharing what’s really on the inside, while closing the lid to put decorative items on top of it mirrors the way we as humans ignore our issues by putting on a facade. The strained leather straps symbolises the straining belts that were used at mental hospitals back in the days to restrain patients due to the skew conception that people with mental disorders were mad. The strains also mediates the feeling of being trapped, locked in place, as we could imagine that a person with a mental disorder sometimes could feel trapped in their diagnosis.