May 11, 2022

Perspectives Spring 2022

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This year’s Perspectives program, instructed by HDL Director Caylee Raber, brought together Emily Carr design students and people living in long-term care on the Sunshine Coast of BC. This was the second time that the program was run online with care staff helping to facilitate virtual connection between students and residents (their co-designers).  

Perspectives is a course-based program, co-developed by Caylee Raber and Jon Hannan, which brings together design students with people living in long-term care for intergenerational exchange and storytelling. The program takes place over a 12-week semester and includes six, one-hour sessions involving small groups of students and people living in care sharing stories together, leading to the production of printed booklets featuring those stories. This program gives voice to people living in care homes, providing an opportunity for creative and emotional expression, stimulation of positive memories and engagement in a unique and meaningful activity that can reopen their stories, while acknowledging their value and what they can contribute.  

In Spring 2022 the Perspectives Program ran as part of DESN 319 Health Design, a 3-credit elective open to all design disciplines. This year students collaborated with residents living on the Sunshine Coast at Shorncliffe Intermediate Care Home by connecting virtually over zoom throughout the semester. 

Students were tasked with a simple design brief:  
In teams, design a series of creative activities to get to know your co-designers and gather stories and experiences they wish to share. Creatively present their stories in a unique format appropriate to the content, for sharing with others

This year’s project outcomes included a wide range of visual and tactile outcomes.  

“Pop-spective”, a set of pop-up storybooks which bring to life the scenes from the stories that co-designers described to design students. Stories from one woman who would read poetry to her children inspired the creation of more poems which were added to her storybook.

Students who created coasters with “bite-sized” moments from the life of another co-designer reflected that they “envisioned this as something which a care provider could quickly access to spark a conversation…”. 

A “keepsake box” made of wood and glass containing wooden “blocks” with hand engraved icons—many depicting outdoor activities, nature scenes, and animals—were meant to represent memories of co-designers on the project.  

Wooden “pizza slices” kept safe within personalized pizza boxes were engraved to resemble objects which were mentioned during co-design activities. For the co-designers who the pizza boxes were personalized for, the pizza slices will continue to spark further storytelling. 

Another project, La Vie D’Artiste, combined quotes from a co-designer’s novel with watercolour paintings of another co-designer into an interactive website. This combination of artworks was meant to create a “different feeling from the original, and form a new story and atmosphere…”. In this way, the stories continue to be interpreted in new ways by the viewers of this website.  

Other students designed post-cards with short stories and facts about co-designers by including photos, stories, life details, and accomplishments on one side and a space for further writing and an address and post stamp on the other.  

Project final outcomes describe and display both stories from the past and emotions of the present. Each new Perspectives cohort serves to solidify the program’s ability to bring stories to life, encourage creativity, and support intergenerational communication. 

In an effort to scale this approach, encouraging other communities to participate, we have created a Perspectives Program ‘How-to-Guide’, available here

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