Where the heart breathes = Tā te manawa : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Master of Design at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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The rapid rate that consumer culture has us disposing of and buying new objects is not environmentally sustainable. Current sustainable design solutions are mostly material based and superficial, focusing on only the production stage of object lifecycles. In contrast, designing to facilitate emotional bonds with objects can increase a product’s overall lifespan. This study specifically explores objects and the feelings of emotional comfort, safety and the meaningful associations connected to them. Working to keep up with constant consumer demand has also created a culture that associates work, money, and productivity directly to living successfully. This hustle culture has devalued and stigmatised rest, and people are burning out because they feel guilty when they are not constantly productive. There is a good opportunity to explore how designed objects can facilitate the opportunity for deeper relationships with objects encourage assigning longer-lasting value to things and slow the rate at which we consume. Attachment to comforting things stems from a human’s “deep-seated psychological need for emotional support” (Bell and Spikins). Feeling supported improves the ability to deal with demanding situations and increases emotional durability. I employ self-reflection and a practice-based iterative design process to develop a piece of furniture that supports the user to prioritise their emotional wellbeing and practice guilt-free self-care. I explore the way that furniture can provide a perception of safe space where a user can separate themselves from their work and give themselves permission to rest.
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