Monthly Archives: November 2014

IRE and Interstellar

I had my IRE evening on Thursday 14th November. I was very excited to meet people from different companies and discuss my concept directions form educating women. I made several boards to show my research and how I would like to change the perception of the menstrual cycle.

IRE Evening-01

I’ve also made a board with some examples of negative message that is usually sent across media. It worked as a great starting point of conversation, people found it funny and paid more attention to my speech.

But unfortunately, all feedback provided during the evening was not as useful as I expected. I spoke to one woman and 5 men during the evening (without counting design students). I am not even sure if they were assigned to look at my project, only one person came to me who had to see me. It was ……. from Integrity, she graduated Brunel several years ago. I haven’t received much of ideas from her but she was genuinely interested in my project.

Other people I spoke to were or lighting engineers or just managers, no one from very creative field (that I was mostly hoping for). They were interested in the project but never really talked about it. Believe it or not, all of them changed conversation to “Where are you from? Are you from Russia?”. This tell me that men in their 30’s 40’s 50’s are not very eager to discuss this stigmatised topic, it will always stay like this for them.

This gave me a direction for my project, make it available strictly for women. Also, after talking to students about their relationships, I realised that men mostly obeyed women when it comes to menstrual cycles. There is definitely an issue I could solve but I think the challenge there would be to make men talk which is another issue.

Another point from this evening is to actually decide if I want to educate women or raise an awareness about education. I think as a Product/Graphic/Creative Designer, my responsibility here is to provide a simple yet detailed education tool for women and possibly teenagers about their bodies. Raising an awareness sounds like a job for an artist or salesman (which I am at some point but it is not my profession). Plus, if women will find this tool very useful for themselves, they will definitely share it with their friends/family/coworkers. Making another art piece will not make my major project more valuable. The way I will provide information will.

There is one last question to answer: concept direction. As I mentioned previously, people from IRE evenng did not give me any suggestions on how I can achieve what I want to achieve. So I had to look for inspiration in different places. Idea came after Graphic Design Lecture on arranging information. There was an example of a holographic globe that showed live information about earthquakes and daylight. Something similar I saw in Science Museum:

Ref.: Science Museum Holographic Globe, 2011, Jay Smith [image] Available at <https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6042/6343983758_ab898da578_z.jpg&gt; (accessed 17 November 2014)

This gave me an idea of looking into Interactive Design solutions. This makes information to look not only interesting but also provide knowledge about the topic you’re trying to promote. This could be a great mix of raising an awareness and educating women.

My next step would be to look into interactive designs and their purpose and come up with concept direction. The one’s I looked at already are packaging designs and 3D installations.

Ref.: See Yourself on The Inside, n.d, Exploratorium [image] Available at <http://exs.exploratorium.edu/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/See-Yourself-On-The-Inside-200×300.jpg&gt; (accessed 17 November 2014)

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Findings – Week 8

Found a very interesting article ( http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shameless-woman/201101/the-importance-listening-our-menstrual-cycle) talking about the appreciation of our monthly cycle and why we should be educated about it. As it was mentioned, women almost forgot that menstrual cycles are associated with pregnancy and reproduction (which is the main purpose of all this process). They see it as an event that just has to happen every month and interrupt in our lives. It is NOT VALUABLE as it was before: different campaignS show it as a joke or a fun thing to discuss but never added a true value to it. Here what was written:

“They were excused from their daily tasks so that they could the work that could only happen during this time of bleeding. In contrast – in today’s culture – it is frowned on to take “Time off” to take care of ourselves during this time.There is no honoring of this time – instead it is seen as an inconvenience.”

A lot of videos and online sources recommend switching to alternative treatments for womens symptoms occuring during the cycle but never explain why they should do it (and why make such a huge effort and spend a lot of time instead of getting a relief with ibuprofen/paracetamol/heat pad). There is that awareness bit missing and I should find a way to combine it.

Found a very inspirational post about menstruation. It’s not really about the facts she describes there but the way she describes the menstruation itself. She writes that “female body is a gift”, “body is a magic of creation”. When reading this, I felt much better about myself, make me feel as I am a part of a special world ritual, that something in me is so individual and spiritual that can be only felt during the menstruation.

Here it is: http://www.menstruation.com.au/periodpages/whymenstruation.html

Another interesting project to review was made by Daizi Zheng. ( http://www.daizizheng.com/projects1.htm )

Designer played around the packaging to make people feel more connected to healthy foods that are usually avoided in daily nutrition. This unique packaging design might change the availability of healthy food on the market and make people reconsider their choice of foods.

This is a very interesting concept and could be closely linked to my project. I can imagine that designing something completely innovative will only confuse people, they need to have a connection/ link to a product description or purpose. This packaging has a similar language to existing junk food packaging and draws great attention to it. But the product inside makes people rethink what they are eating.

http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/06/13/the-warmth-of-a-hug/

A product concept found on Yanko Design website. Not quite a direction I am going but I had this concept in my head before. Heat and light therapy can provide a relaxation for women suffering from PMS or menstrual symptoms however I can not see how the concept exactly works here.

http://productsofdesign.sva.edu/cycla-necklace-by-julia-plevin/

A necklace that allows you to track your cycle even when you are outside and around other people. Very neat and fashionable approach but it doesn’t provide any educational information.

Question: how much information I want to provide in my product? Maybe I don’t need to provide it at all?

Try raising interest of women to look up for other information?

I received a lot of feedback on my questionnaire, a lot of girls said that it was an interesting one, it made sense for them. Just the fact that I have provided questions, it made them to think about it and provide feedback. Could it be a possible approach to women?

Survey Design and Conclusion

Two design surveys for women and men were designed to identify different issues related to the female menstrual cycle

Women

The purpose of this questionnaire is to get a rough idea of women’s perception of their menstrual cycles in different stages. Some of these questions will question
Q1
Q1
Most of the respondents are from 21 to 25 years old. Second most popular group is from 26 to 30 years old. We can assume
Q2
Q2

Most of respondents do not have a period&ovulation calendar but are willing of creating one. We can assume from this that women want to be conscious of their menstrual cycle and able to predict their behavior and symptoms for upcoming cycles. They accept the importance of it but are not not sure how they can use this information for themselves. The menstrual cycle tracker doesn’t analyse your information and doesn’t give you information based on results. Without a help of professional, women do not understand the importance of collected data. No educational materials are provided for them for free.
Q3
 Q3
The intend of this question was to identify the impact of menstruation on womens’ lives.  We also wanted to see the amount of negative and positive answers appearing throughout the question.
Only 11% admitted that they somehow enjoy their periods, while strong majority admit it as something they just have to deal with (85% agrees). Majority of women feel that men have an advantage of not experiencing menstruation. However, women are not ashamed of their menstruation – they admitted that they  have no need to hide their purchases or the fact that they’ve got period. Only 13% said that they are embarrassed to purchase pads or tampons, which shows that it is a major inconvenience for most women. Same as talking about their periods is not a massive issue, only-third (30%) said they prefer not to talk openly about their periods. Rather, women are mostly concerned by the impact it has on their lives.
Q4
Q4
This question was built to check how well women are educated on menstrual cycle based topics.
Most of women have answered correctly on most of the questions. However, there was a small percent of women who assumed that pain during menstruation is not natural and stress and nutrition has nothing to do with PMS symptoms and length of menstruation. Interestingly, in the last part women were uncertain about whether hormones cause menstrual cramps. Women have a fair understanding of psychological facts of the cycle but not sure how body works during luteal or follicular phases.
(Question here: WHY women need to know it?)
Q5
Q5
Her we will clarify how women perceive their periods – whether it’s more positive or negative.
Responses showed that the majority (67%) would prefer having periods frequently but almost third preferred not to have periods at all. Most of women somewhat understand the nature of menstrual cycle and prefer having periods even if they were once a month. The fact that almost a third wanted to get rid of their periods shows negative attitude to their bodies and … during the cycle.
Q6
Q6
Here we tried to look at different habits women have during menstrual cycle. It includes looking at their food, medicine and activities preference.
Most of women are not even considering of consuming less sweets or salty snacks before period starts. (They admitted of having food cravings as a natural process but do they know it is not good for their bodies and period?) 70 percent of respondents stated that they eat snacks as a distraction from their bad moods. Respondents also admitted that exercising before their periods is not included in their routine where almost half doesn’t even consider any activities as a must. (consider that there may be sports women too)
Women prefer to get instant relief from their symptoms by taking some kind of medicine. Only 12% admitted they never use drugs for period pains.
Q7 Q8
Q7-8
This part shows the most experiences symptoms before menstrution (luteal phase)
Moodiness, irritability, stress and cravings ere the most popular choice amongst other physical and mental symptoms appearing before menstruation. These symptoms mainly are connected to mental state of a woman. Cravings can be considered a consequence of having constant stress. Even when comparing severity of symptoms, mental have a greater advantage over physical ones. During period, physical symptoms such as abdominal cramps, fatigue, food craving had priority over mood related problems.
Q9
Q9
Here we are reviewing the affection of menstrual cycle in relationships and getting more personal insight into different issues. Women had an option to skip this question if they do not have an experience in having a relationship. More than a third skipped this question (65 vs. 35)
Women agree that men have to know their behavior patterns during menstrual cycle and less about their menstruation flow.
Women are also unsure what their SO’s think of their menstrual cycles – whether it is positive or negative point of view. This could point out the unwillingness and uncertainty if women should trust sharing info about their menstrual cycles.
Women don’t feel a special need of sharing their menstrual cycles with men but do feel a need of their presence to control menstrual mood swings.
They also admit that keeping distance in this period is not the best decision. Men would act as a distraction from their symptoms. Women are seeking for a trusting person who could share feelings with them and keep their minds occupied with other things
Conclusion
Women are concerned about their health but have no trustful source of information available when they are not attending GP. Women are interested in learning more about the origin of their abnormal behaviour and other symptoms, they want to know how their bodies work during the period.
Some women admitted that even if they don’t need that information now, they will definitely find it useful in future.
Men