Quietude Project

Quietude will result in an ecology of jewellery products and accessories that enhance the experience of deaf women in a sound-oriented world. There is huge potential in designing for people with different abilities and impairments. Nowadays technology offers a full range of possibilities mainly providing functional solutions to compensate compromised skills. However, mainstream design focuses on the impairment of the person rather than providing a context for rich and meaningful experiences of use. Quietude aims to “change stigmas into desirables” (Donald Norman) by designing smart fashionable accessories and garments with and for a group of deaf women. The accessories will detect sounds and translate them into vibrations and shape changes. When wearing these accessories, the deaf women will be able to perceive voices and other sounds through their body. The project develops solutions with clear aesthetic qualities to offer opportunities of engagement, emotional well-being and comfort while reducing negative impact of the impairment. The vision of the project is based on the idea that aesthetics is not an isolated modality or property of an object/tool. Rather, it relates to the way in which a system behaves and responds over time in interplay with a person (Löwgren, 2008) and the engagement and positive feelings of people during use. Aesthetics are what resonates with personal meaning and hopes of well-being. Quietude aims at developing a fully working system comprising a fashion accessories collection (a dynamic necklace, a bobby pin, a sensing brooch and an armband) and a mobile app working at different levels that focus on Intimacy, Privacy and enriched – and thus more sustainable – Relationships. Key qualities include: Visibility—the invisibility of deafness can be challenging in many interactions; Safety—sounds from the side or behind are easily missed by a deaf person. Yet can require a prompt response to stay safe; Curiosity—some deaf people are curious about sounds in social spaces, and would like to access vocal nuance or feel a loved one’s laugh; Aesthetics—assistive devices rarely reflect the human need for beauty, or a person’s need to express their individual sense of style; Sustainability—linking across differences between deaf and hearing communities is fundamental to enrich the fabric of relationships toward social well-being. Quietude responds to these needs, in an elegant ecology of objects of desire.

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