How a Dutch “Dementia Village” Improves Quality of Life with Intentional Design

People suffering from dementia lose their ability to take an active part in conversations, everyday activities, and their own physical upkeep.

They are prone to sudden mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety.

They may be stricken with delusions and wild hallucinations.

All of these things can be understandably upsetting to friends and families. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding this situation.

Taking care of a spouse or parent with dementia can be an overwhelmingly isolating experience, though no one is more isolated than the person experiencing severe cognitive decline firsthand.

While many of us would do anything to stay out of them, the sad fact is residential memory care facilities are often the end-of-the-line reality for those living with extreme dementia.

During the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing home deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increased by more than 20 percent, owing to such factors as chronic staffing shortages and a ban on outside visitors.

As DeAnn Walters, director of clinical affairs for the California Association of Health Facilities, told Politico:

We’re trying to be supporter, social worker, caregiver, friend and housekeeping for the resident. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the caregivers and the operation of the facility to make sure everyone has what they need. Before the pandemic we couldn’t even get socks on people and you’d see them walking around barefoot.

Not the vision any of us would choose for our parent’s golden years, or our own.

The Hogeweyk, a planned village just outside of Amsterdam, offers a different sort of future for those with severe dementia.

The above episode of By Design, Vox’s series about the intersection of design and technology, explores the innovations that contribute to the Hogeweyk’s residents overall happiness and wellbeing.

Rather than grouping residents together in a single institutional setting, they are placed in groups of six, with everyone inhabiting a private room and sharing common spaces as they see fit.

The common spaces open onto outdoor areas that can be freely enjoyed by all housed in that “neighborhood”. No need to wait until a staff member grants permission or finishes some task.

Those wishing to venture further afield can avail themselves of such pleasant quotidian destinations as a grocery, a restaurant, a barbershop, or a theater.

These locations are designed in accordance with certain things proven to work well in institutional settings –  for instance, avoiding dark floor tiles, which some people with dementia perceive as holes.

But other design elements reflect the choice to err on the side of quality of life. Hand rails may help in preventing falls, but so do rollators and walkers, which the residents use on their jaunts to the town squares, gardens and public amenities.

The designers believe that equipping residents with a high level of freedom not only promotes physical activity, it minimizes issues associated with dementia like aggression, confusion, and wandering.

Co-founders Eloy van Hal and Jannette Spiering write that the Hogeweyk’s critics compare it to the Truman Show, the 1998 film in which Jim Carrey’s title character realizes that his wholesome small town life, and his every interaction with his purported friends, neighbors, and loved ones, have been a set up for a highly rated, hidden camera reality TV show.

They describe The Hogeweyk as a stage for, “the reminiscence world”, in which actors help the residents live in a fictitious world. Many Alzheimer’s experts have, however, valued The Hogeweyk for what it really is: a familiar and safe environment in which people with dementia live while retaining their own identity and autonomy as much as possible. They live in a social community with real streets and squares, a real restaurant with real customers, a supermarket for groceries and a theatre that hosts real performances. There is no fake bus stop or post office, there are no fake façades and sets. The restaurant employee, the handyman, the caretaker, the nurse, the hairdresser, etc.—in short: everyone who works at The Hogeweyk uses their professional skills to actually support the residents and are, therefore, certainly not actors.

Professional care and support goes on around the clock, but rarely takes centerstage. Normal life is prioritized.

A visitor describes a stroll through some of the Hogeweyk’s public areas:

In the shade of one of the large trees, a married couple gazes happily at the activity in the theatre square. An elderly gentleman, together with a young lady, intently study the large chess board and take turns moving the pieces. At the fountain, a group of women chat loudly on colourful garden chairs. The story is clearly audible—it is about a memory of a visit to a park in Paris which had the same chairs. Passers-by, old and young, greet the women enthusiastically. A little further on, a woman is talking to a man opposite her. She is gesturing wildly. After a while, another woman joins the conversation. The two women then walk through the open front door of Boulevard 15. 

The covered passage smells of freshly-baked cookies. The scent is coming from De Bonte Hof. Amusing conversations can be heard that pause for a moment when the oven beeps in the kitchen that has been decorated in an old-fashioned style. A tray of fresh cookies is removed from the oven. Two women, one in a wheelchair, enter the venue, obviously seduced by the smell. They sample the cookies. 

The supermarket across the street is very busy. Shopping trolleys loaded with groceries are pushed out of the shop. The rattle of a shopping trolley dissipates into the distance as it disappears from view towards Grote Plein. A man reluctantly pushes the full trolley while two women follow behind him arm in arm. The trio disappear behind the front door of Grote Plein 5.

A staffer’s account of a typical morning in one of Hogeweyk’s houses reveals more about the hands-on care that allows residents to continue enjoying their carefully designed home, and the autonomous lifestyle it makes possible:

Mr Hendricks wakes up on the sofa. He unzips his fly. I jump up and escort him to the toilet just in time. I grab a roll of medication for him from the medication trolley. He is now walking to his room. We pick out clothes together and I lay them out on his bed. He washes himself at the sink. I watch briefly before leaving. Fifteen minutes later, I poke my head through the door. That’s not how electric shaving works! I offer to help, but Mr. Hendricks is clearly a bit irritated and grumbles. He’ll be a little less shaven today. We’ll try again after breakfast…

We help Mrs Stijnen into the shower chair with the hoist. She is clearly not used to it. Discussing her extensive Swarovski collection, displayed in the glass case in her room, turns out to be an excellent distraction. She proudly talks about the latest piece she acquired this year. On to the shower. The two other residents are still sleeping. Great, that gives me the chance to devote some extra time to Mrs Stijnen today. 

The doorbell rings again and my colleague, Yasmin, walks in. She’s the familiar face that everyone can rely on. Always present at 8 a.m., 5 days a week. What a relief for residents and family. She, too, puts her coat and bag in the locker. The washing machine is ready, and Yasmin loads up the dryer. The table in the dining room is then set. Yasmin puts a floral tablecloth from the cupboard on the table. Mr Hendricks lends a hand and, with some guidance, puts two plates in their place, but then walks away to the sofa and sits down. A Dutch breakfast with bread, cheese, cold cuts, jam, coffee, tea and milk is served. Yasmin is making porridge for Mrs Smit. As always, she has breakfast in bed. Yasmin helps Mrs Smit. It is now 08:45 and Mr Hendricks and Mrs Stijnen are sitting at the dining table. Yasmin pushes the chairs in and sits down herself. They chat about the weather, and Yasmin lends a helping hand when needed. 

Mr Hendricks is really grumpy today and is currently grumbling at Mrs Jansen. I’m wondering if we’re overlooking something?

Learn more about the Hogeweyk, the world’s first dementia village here.

Watch a playlist of Vox By Design episodes here.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

How a Simple, Bauhaus-Designed Chair Ended Up Everywhere Over the Past 100 Years

If you don’t believe chairs can be art, you’ll have to take it up with the curators, gallerists, collectors, architects, and designers around the world who spend their lives obsessing over chair design. Every major museum has a furniture collection, and every collection displaying furniture gives special pride of place to the radical innovations of modernist chairs, from early artisan creations of the Bauhaus to mass-produced mid-century chairs of legend. Chairs are status symbols, art objects, and physical manifestations of leisure, power, and repose.

Who could forget Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic lounge chair, Arne Jacobsen’s “Egg,” the elegantly simple side chairs of Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames, or even the more recent corner office staple, the Aeron Chair — the Herman Miller original that has been part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection since 1992? “In chairs more than in any other object, human beings are the unit of measure,” says Museum of Modern Art curator Paola Antonelli, “and designers are forced to walk a line between standardization and personalization.”

Artist Marcel Breuer, a Bauhaus designer, architect, and instructor, applied more than his share of innovative ideas to a series of chairs and tables designed and built in the 1920s and 30s. The most iconic of these, from a design perspective, may be the “Wassily,” a club chair-shaped contraption made of steel tubing and canvas straps. (The chair acquired the name because Breuer’s Bauhaus colleague Wassily Kandinsky so admired it.) One rarely encounters this chair outside the environs of upscale furniture galleries and the finer homes and waiting rooms.

Breuer’s Cesca, however, the Wassily’s smaller, more utilitarian cousin from 1928, seems to show up all over the place. Also called the B32 (with an armchair version called the B64), the Cesca’s one-piece, steel tube design was, like Breuer’s full line of Bauhaus furniture, inspired by his experiments in bike-building and interest in “mass production and standardization,” he said. Unlike the Wassily, which might set you back around $3,300 for a quality reproduction, a Cesca comes in at around 1/10th the price, and seems ubiquitous, the Vox video above points out.

No, it’s still not cheap, but Breuer’s rattan chair design is widely beloved and copied. “The cantilevered cane-and-chrome chair is all over the place,” Vox writes, “in trendy homes, in movies and on TV shows, even tattooed on people’s bodies…. [This] somewhat unassuming two-legged chair is the realization of a manifesto’s worth of utopian ideals about design and functionality.” It satisfies the school’s brief, that is to say, for the utilitarian as utopian, as Breuer himself later commented on his design:

I already had the concept of spanning the seat with fabric in tension as a substitute for thick upholstery. I also wanted a frame that would be resilient and elastic [as well as] achieve transparency of forms to attain both visual and physical lightness…. I considered such polished and curved lines not only symbolic of our modern technology, but actually technology itself.

Learn more about the practical, comfortable, beauty of the Cesca — and the ideals of the Bauhaus — in the video at the top. Learn more about the chair’s designer, Marcel Breuer, in this online MoMA monograph by Christopher Wilk.

Related Content: 

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Behold a Book of Color Shades Depicted with Feathers (Circa 1915)

Perhaps the 143 colors showcased in The Bayer Company’s early 20th-century sample book, Shades on Feathers, could be collected in the field, but it would involve a lot of travel and patience, and the stalking of several endangered if not downright extinct avian species.

Far easier, and much less expensive, for milliners, designers and decorators to dye plain white feathers  exotic shades, following the instructions in the sample book.

Such artificially obtained rainbows owe a lot to William Henry Perkin, a teenage student of German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann, who spent Easter vacation of 1856 experimenting with aniline, an organic base his teacher had earlier discovered in coal tar.  Hoping to hit on a synthetic form of quinine, he accidentally hit on a solution that colored silk a lovely purple shade – an inadvertent eureka moment that ranks right up there with penicillin and the pretzel.

A Science Museum Group profile details what happened next:

Perkin named the colour mauve and the dye mauveine. He decided to try to market his discovery instead of returning to college.

On 26 August 1856, the Patent Office granted Perkin a patent for ‘a new colouring matter for dyeing with a lilac or purple colour stuffs of silk, cotton, wool, or other materials’.

Perkin’s next step was to interest cloth dyers and printers in his discovery. He had no experience of the textile trade and little knowledge of large-scale chemical manufacture. He corresponded with Robert and John Pullar in Glasgow, who offered him support. Perkin’s luck changed towards the end of 1857 when the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, decided that mauve was the colour to wear. In January 1858, Queen Victoria followed suit, wearing mauve to her daughter’s wedding.

Cue an explosion of dye manufacturers across Great Britain and Europe, including Bayer, producer of the feather sample book. The survival of this artifact is somewhat miraculous given how vulnerable antique feathers are to environmental factors, pests, and improper storage.

(The sample book recommends cleaning the feathers prior to dying in a lukewarm solution of small amounts of olive oil soap and ammonia.)

The Science History Institute, owner of this unusual object, estimates that the undated book was produced between 1913 and 1918, the year the Migratory Bird Act Treaty outlawed the hunting of birds whose feathers humans deemed particularly fashionable.

Peruse the Science History Institute of Philadelphia’s digitized copy of the Shades on Feathers sample book here.

via Messy Nessy

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Take Graphic Design Courses to Launch Your Career as a Graphic Designer, Video Game Designer, UI Designer & More

What can you do with graphic design skills? More and more, it seems, as emerging technologies drive new apps, software, and games. New design challenges are everywhere, from human-machine interfaces, to 3D modeling in video games and animated films, to re-imagining classic designs in print and on screen. In addition to traditional jobs like art director, graphic designer, production artist, and animator, the past few years have seen a sharp rise in demand for User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designers, roles that require a variety of different creative and technical skill sets.

You could get a four-year degree in design to work in one of these fields, or you could take a Coursera Specialization and be one step closer. Coursera has met the demand for new job skills and tech education by partnering with top arts institutions and universities to offer online courses at low cost. All of these courses grant certificates that show potential employers you’re ready to put your learning to use. If careers in art and contemporary design, graphic design, web user experience and interface design, or video game design appeal to you, you can learn those skills in the five certificate-granting Specialization programs below.

Graphic designers can choose to be as specialized or generalized as they like, but as in all creative fields, they need a thorough understanding of the basics. A Coursera Specialization is a series of courses intended to lead students to mastery, building on the history and foundations of the field. You can enroll for free and try out any of the Specializations for 7 days. After that, you’ll be charged between $39-$49 per month until you complete the courses in a Specialization. (Financial aid is available).

The exciting Specializations from CALARTS and the Museum of Modern Art will bring you many steps closer to a new career, or maybe even a new personal passion project.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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Become a Project Manager Without a College Degree with Google’s Project Management Certificate

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Vincent van Gogh “Starry Night” LEGO Set Is Now Available: It’s Created in Collaboration with MoMA

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is one of the most popular and easily recognized paintings on earth. If you haven’t seen it person, you’ve probably seen it reproduced on a postcard, a tote bag, or a t-shirt.

Musician Sheldon Clarke was a Starry Night virgin when he started working as a security officer at the Museum of Modern Art:

I knew nothing about Vincent or Starry Night before I started working here. And I remember the first time I stood at that painting…first of all, I was so amazed at the reaction of the public. There was always a group of people just fighting to look at it or take pictures or take selfies and I was just curious to know like, who is this painter and why is everyone so excited to see this piece?

Now, Clarke is sufficiently well versed to hold forth on both the nature of the artwork and circumstances in which the artist created it. He is, with Senior Paintings Conservator Anny Aviram,  Associate Curator Cara Manes, and Robert Kastler, director of Imaging and Visual Resources, one of four MoMA staffers to give some context, while trying their hands at the new Starry Night LEGO set.

A collaboration between MoMA and LEGO, the set reinterprets Van Gogh’s thick impasto brushwork in 2316 tiny plastic bricks, including a mini figure of the artist, equipped with paintbrush, palette, easel, and an adjustable arm for positioning him at sufficient distance to gain perspective on his world famous work.

The set is the winning entry in a LEGO Ideas competition. Designer Truman Cheng, a 25-year-old LEGO fan and PhD candidate focusing on  medical robotics and magnetic controlled surgical endoscopes. He had long wanted to render The Starry Night in LEGO, bu its execution required a lightbulb moment:

One day, I was just playing with LEGO parts, and I realized that stacking LEGO plates together at random intervals looks a lot like van Gogh’s iconic brush strokes. I couldn’t help but wonder what the full painting would look like with this build style.

As Aviram and Kastler point out, the set cleaves faithfully to Van Gogh’s limited palette. Some LEGO fans report that building up the blue background layers is the most challenging aspect of assembling the 11”x14.5” kit:

I’m 54 and the colors, being kind of close, were playing games with my eyes. LOL This is my favorite LEGO of all time! In closing, if you haven’t heard the song, Vincent  by Don McLean, I suggest you take a listen to this song as you stare at this LEGO masterpiece.

Order LEGO’s Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night set – currently on back order – from LEGO or from MoMA’s design store.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Ergonomics Experts Explain How to Set Up Your Desk

Ergonomics aren’t a joke, Jim. – Dwight Schrute, The Office

Technological innovations are snowballing faster than ever in the third decade of the 21st-century. A home office set-up that would have been cause for pride in 2019 seems woefully inadequate now.

Just ask anyone whose desk job pivoted to virtual in March of 2020.

So, perhaps don’t take physical therapist’s Jon Cinkay’s nearly three year old advice in the above Wall Street Journal video as gospel, but rather as a chance to check in with your carpal tunnels, your aching neck and back, and your favorite refurbished office furniture outlet.

Cinkay assumes that your desk is a standard 29 – 30” tall, which is not the case here, but okay…

Our bodies’ unique dimensions mean that no desk can be a one-size-fits-all proposition, and Cinkay makes a robust case for making modifications:

1. Adjust your desk chair

Cinkay recommends adjusting the seat height until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle when your fingers are on the keyboard. (As of this writing, keyboards have not yet become obsolete.)

In a 2020 article for the Hospital of Special Surgery, he also recommends making sure your chair’s armrests can fit under your desk to avoid postural compromises when reaching for your keyboard or mouse.

He also wisely advises looking for a chair with a minimum 30-day warranty so you don’t get stuck with an expensive mistake.

2. Consider a footstool

If cranking your desk chair to the perfect height leaves your feet dangling, you’ll need a footstool to help your knees maintain a proper 90-degree bend. If you can’t invest in a high tech adjustable footstool, a ream of paper will do in a pinch.

Tech expert David Zhang, who we’ll hear from soon below, rests his cute striped socks on a yoga mat.

Who among us does not have dozens of things that could be pressed into service as a footstool?

I am left to ponder the fate of the decorative needlepointed footstools my late grandmother and her sisters scattered around their living rooms.

Can an actual footstool be considered a footstool hack?

3. Adjust the height of your monitor 

To avoid neck pain, use a monitor stand to position the top of the screen level with your eyes. If you’re working with a laptop, you’ll need a stand, a separate keyboard and and a mouse.

Cinkay’s monitor stand hack is – you guessed it – a ream of paper.

Mine is 5000 Years of the Art of India which is about the same thickness as a ream of paper and was in easy reach at the library where I work.

To judge by some of the comments on Cinkay’s Wall Street Journal video, his keyboard dates to the Stone Age.

Whatever his keyboard vintage, the aforementioned article did suggest gel wrist rests to relieve pressure on the sensitive carpal tunnel area, but watch out! Zhang is not a fan!

4. Get a Headset

Leaving aside the fact that the phone in question appears to be a landline, a headset allows you to keep your head on straight, thus minimizing neck and shoulder pain.

5. Remember that you’re not chained to your desk

Of all the ergonomic advice offered above, this seems likeliest to remain evergreen.

Take a snack break, a water break, a bathroom break, and while you’re at it toss in a couple of the stretches Cinkay recommends.

(The Mayo Clinic has more, including our favorite shoulder stretch.)

Zhang’s desk-centric video was uploaded in 2017, when keyboard trays were already becoming a relic of a bygone era. 

As mentioned, he’s anti-wrist rest. If your wrists are in need of support, and they are, get a palm rest!

Zhang’s also critical of drawers and – unusual for 2017 – standing desks though like Cirkay, he’s a big fan of standing up and moving around.

His video description includes some common sense, ass-covering encouragement for viewers with irregular symptoms or pain to seek professional help. We think this means medical professional, though unsurprisingly, ergonomic assessment is a fast growing field. It’s expensive but possibly costs less in the long run than rushing out to buy whatever a stranger on the internet tells you to.

To that end, we appreciate Zhang’s transparency regarding his channel’s participation in the Amazon Services LLC Associates affiliate advertising program.

Caveat emptor!

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Rembrandt Book Bracelet: Behold a Functional Bracelet Featuring 1400 Rembrandt Drawings

Admittedly jewelry is not one of our areas of expertise, but when we hear that a bracelet costs €10,000, we kind of expect it to have a smattering of diamonds.

Designers Lyske Gais and Lia Duinker are getting that amount for a wristlet comprised chiefly of five large paper sheets printed with high res images downloaded free from the Rijksmuseum‘s extensive digital archive of Rembrandt drawings and etchings.

Your average pawnbroker would probably consider its 18-karat gold clasp, or possibly the custom-made wooden box in which it can be stored when not in use the most precious thing about this ornament.

An ardent bibliophile or art lover is perhaps better equipped to see the book bracelet’s value.

Each gilt edged page – 1400 in all – features an image of a hand, sourced from 303 downloaded Rembrandt works.

An illustration on the designers’ Duinker and Dochters website details the painstaking process whereby the bookbracelet takes shape in 8-page sections, or signatures, cross stitched tightly alongside each other on a paper band. Put it on, and you can flip through Rembrandt hands, Rolodex-style. When you want to do the dishes or take a shower, just pack it flat into that custom box.

Gais and Duinker also include an index, which is handy for those times when you don’t feel like hunting and pecking around your own wrist in search of a hand that appeared in the Flute Player or  Christ crucified between the two murderers.

The Rembrandt’s Hands and a Lion’s Paw bracelet, titled like a book and published in a limited edition of 10, nabbed first prize in the 2015 Rijksstudio Awards, a competition that challenges designers to create work inspired by the Rijksmuseum’s collection.

(2015’s second prize went to an assortment of conserves and condiments that harkened to Johannes Hannot’s 1668 Still Life with Fruit. 2014’s winner was a palette of eyeshadow and some eyeliners inspired by Jan Adam Kruseman’s 1833 Portrait of Alida Christina Assink and a Leendert van der Cooghen sketch.)

But what about that special art loving bibliophile who already has everything, including a Rembrandts Hands and a Lions Paw boekarmband?

Maybe you could get them Collier van hondjes, Gais and Duinker’s follow up to the book bracelet, a rubber choker with an attached 112-page book pendant showcasing Rembrandt dogs sourced from various museum’s digital collections.

Purchase Rembrandt’s Hands and a Lions Paw limited edition book bracelet here.

And embark on making your own improbable thing inspired by a high res image in the Rijksmuseum‘s Rijks Studio here.

via Colossal/Neatorama

– Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and creator, most recently of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Japanese Researcher Sleeps in the Same Location as Her Cat for 24 Consecutive Nights!

Cross cat napping with bed hopping and you might end up having an “adventure in comfort” similar to the one that informs student Yuri Nakahashi‘s thesis for Tokyo’s Hosei University.

For 24 consecutive nights, Nakahashi forwent the comforts of her own bed in favor of a green sleeping bag, unfurled in whatever random location one of her five pet cats had chosen as its sleeping spot that evening.

(The choice of which cat would get the pleasure of dictating each night’s sleeping bag coordinates was also randomized.)

As the owner of five cats, Nakahashi presumably knew what she was signing up for…


Cats rack out atop sofa backs, on stairs, and under beds…and so did Nakahashi.

Her photos suggest she logged a lot of time on a bare wooden floor.

A FitBit monitored the duration and quality of time spent asleep, as well as the frequency with which she awakened during the night.

She documented the physical and psychological effects of this experiment in an interactive published by the Information Processing Society of Japan.

She reports that she eagerly awaited the revelation of each night’s coordinates, and that even when her sleep was disrupted by her pets’ middle of the night grooming routines, bunking next to them had a “relaxing effect.”

Meanwhile, our research suggests that the same experiment would awaken a vastly different response in a different human subject, one suffering from ailurophobia, say, or severe allergies to the proteins in feline saliva, urine, and dander.

What’s really surprising about Nakahashi’s itinerant, and apparently pleasure-filled undertaking is how little difference there is between her average sleep score during the experiment and her average sleep score from the 20 days preceding it.

At left, an average sleep score of 84.2 for the 20 days leading up to experiment. At right, an average sleep score 83.7 during the experiment.

Nakahashi’s entry for the YouFab Global Creative Awards, a prize for “work that attempts a dialogue that transcends the boundaries of species, space, and time” reflects the playful spirit she brought to her slightly off-kilter experiment:

 Is it possible to add diversity to the way we enjoy sleep? Let’s think about food. In addition to the taste and nutrition of the food, each meal is a special experience with diversity depending on the people you are eating with, the atmosphere of the restaurant, the weather, and many other factors. In order to bring this kind of enjoyment to sleep, we propose an “adventure in comfort” in which the cat decides where to sleep each night, away from the fixed bedroom and bed. This project is similar to going out to eat with a good friend at a restaurant, where the cat guides you to sleep.

She notes that traditional beds have an immobility owing to “their physical weight and cultural concepts such as direction.”

This suggests that her work could be of some benefit to humans in decidedly less fanciful, involuntary situations, whose lack of housing leads them to sleep in unpredictable, and inhospitable locations.

Nakahashi’s time in the green sleeping bag inspired her to create the below model of a more flexible bed, using a polypropylene bag, rice and nylon film.

We have created a prototype of a double-layered inflatable bed that has a pouch structure that inflates with air and a jamming structure that becomes hard when air is compressed. The pouch side softly receives the body when inflated. The jamming side becomes hard when the air is removed, and can be firmly fixed in an even space. The air is designed to move back and forth between the two layers, so that when not in use, the whole thing can be rolled up softly for storage. 

It’s hard to imagine the presence of a pussycat doing much to ameliorate the anxiety of those forced to flee their familiar beds with little warning, but we can see how Nakahashi’s design might bring a degree of physical relief when sleeping in subway stations, basement corners, and other harrowing locations.

Via Spoon & Tomago

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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