Daily Boost is golden "gym equipment" designed to boost moods and encourage positive emotions in public spaces. This equipment is intended for installation near transit stations, concrete parks and places where people might need a boost of movement and positivity.
The gym will contain 4-6 pieces of furniture, with attached hand-held props. Each piece of equipment supports a different positive emotional states such as "powerful", "meditative", or "heroic". Our first demonstration prototype happened on October 4, 2014 at YBCA's OpenCity/ArtCity in the DiscoTech. Participants explored a variety of positive emotions, and played with other people.
This installation included:
• A throne
• A meditation bench
• A pedestal
• Angel wings – for “power poses”
• A torch, tablet & shield – heroism, leadership
• A cape – regality
Through an iterative & collaborative design process, we will generate additional types of equipment to support desired emotional states. This civic park equipment will create opportunities for anyone to experience a range of positive emotions, and get a "daily boost" in a nearby public space.
Amy Cuddy has a TED talk, “Your body language shapes who you are”(1) about the recent scientific findings of the physiological benefits of stress-busting Power Poses (think "Wonder Woman").
Through history, you can find many examples of power poses in civic statues, religious furnishings, and royal accessories. What’s exciting is that this rich history offers ideas for a new genre of “outdoor gym equipment.” Why not "be" the victorious leader on the Pedestal? Why not take a sunshine break and sit on a throne? Why not de-stress on a meditation bench?
If our body language shapes who we are, then what happens when our body postures in public don’t represent how we want to feel? What does this mean for our street culture?
The very powerful "Stop Telling Women to Smile"(2) movement is an inspiration for me. These women are asserting their rights to feel however they want while walking down the street, and have people leave them alone.
Streets should be places where we aren’t told how to feel, or places where we must hide our feelings. Streets should be places that make us feel more ourselves, more powerful, whatever suits us best. We have an opportunity to co-design public spaces that allow us to choose consensual, positive social exchanges that we might actually *want* on any given day. We can make spaces to meditate in solitude, to be admired or to feel equal, or even forgiven. Whatever we need. Design experimentation will help us learn ways to enhance our streets so that in 10-20 years we feel safer to be ourselves.
Iterative and Community-focused Design Process
We will do several design iterations, and choose the strongest experiences for installation on Market Street.
Teams of “Builders” & “User Researchers” will design and make new prototypes of the gym equipment and props.
Between December and March, we will hold four public installations in locations on or near Market Street (for example, at City Hall, UN Plaza, and in the Financial District.) Our User Researchers will design our next “Emotion Election” ballot, and steer us to get useful feedback for the next design iteration.
For each public installation design iteration, we will invite a different organizational partner to collaborate with us or otherwise be involved. Ideal partners to invite include Parks & Rec, the Department of Health and Human Services or similar organizations that promote the well being, mental or spiritual health of workers and local residents. We will also keep the project open to interested volunteers, design thinkers, furniture builders, industry mentors and others who might be able to help us make and provide equipment in this genre that would be of the best benefit to the public.
At these events, our team of costumed "Personal Trainers" will play with the public, encourage the public to participate in the “Election”, help take photos using the hashtag #dailyboost, and make sure no one gets hurt on early prototypes. After the event, we will debrief with all teams on what worked well and not-so-well, answer design questions, and tally up more Election results.
Then we will enter a design sketching and building process, and work with as many mentors as possible to identify stable, affordable materials that can be used to make gym equipment easily and that looks great, and photographs well, when it is gold.
After the four installation events, our findings will be solidified into final designs for furniture, and create a layout plan and way-finding graphics for the gym equipment. We can extend our current website to provide an app-like experience for pedestrians wanting to find out how to do a “positive emotion workout, “ which will present the cumulative findings of our research.
A summary of our first learnings from our first installation has been published on our blog, dailyboost.tumblr.com