The sixth secondment of the MinD project ‘Designing for People with Dementia’ in October was the first secondment wholly dedicated to design. It saw a renewed discussion on the basic tenets of the MinD framework and its application through design. Fuelled by a series of inspiring presentations and visits centred on architecture and wellbeing and technology health applications, such as wearables and e-textiles, the Barcelona visit gave MinD an excellent start into the design phase.
PICARCHITECTS, a renowned architecture agency, and EURECAT, a major technology provider in Catalonia, who are the hosts for this secondment, presented their work and vision, and arranged for a series of insightful and inspiring visits in the city and in the Barcelona surrounding to give the group first hand experience of their projects and development and production facilities. These visits fuelled discussions on the relationship between technology and nature, person and environment, and the opportunities offered by wearables, applications of e-health and architectural interventions.
Alongside throughout the visit, based on the first findings of the interviews and focus groups, researchers and designers discussed the dynamics underlying social engagements (or the lack thereof), and the role of mindfulness. A core question identified was not only where do people with dementia experience a lack of social engagement and what potential strategies could be used to remedy this, but most importantly how social relationships and challenges associate with them can be transformed through mindfulness.
These discussions allowed for a rich (mindful) understanding of dementia and the ways in which it manifests itself in everyday (social) interactions as a basis for the design development. As such, the MinD framework further took shape, and the potential roles of environmental design and technology really came to the fore under the influence of our generous and inspiring hosts. This was supported by the presentations and discussions on recent and on-going research projects connecting to opportunities offered by, for instance, e-textiles, through considerations such as ‘what tactile feedback could be offered when anxiety and stress are overwhelming?’ Needless to say, the Barcelona region provided the ideal climate for idea generation with its numerous (architectural) highlights, including the timeless Gaudi monuments.