The Cognitive Design course at Umeå Institute of Design (UID) 2016 was aimed at generating understanding on what it is like to have dementia, and by doing so, the hope was for people to be more lenient towards dementia patients and their carers. Students where asked to “Design an experience to foster empathy for dementia patients.” This resulted in a small exhibition of experiences; walking in the footsteps of a dementia patient setting the table, following a recipe, using a keyboard and an illustrative experience of the disintegration of the mind.
During the duration of the six week course students were introduced to interaction and design principles and methods. They had a long conversation with Per Lundgren, dementia nurse for over 37 years. Per (aka Pelle) introduced them to the disease by very moving storytelling — many of his anecdotes are featured throughout this document. It was clear that the students themselves were unaware of the extreme and often bizarre expression Alzheimer’s disease can have. Encouraged not to try and fix dementia, but to help people understand what the disease does through designing experiences that put us in dementia’s shoes, they sought out users, interviewed patients and carers and prototyped.
Shown here are photographs of the experiences they designed. The experiences were exhibited in the atrium of UID and open to all. Considered the limited time the students had, as well as little of no prior design experience, they tackled the problem enthusiastically and managed to create meaningful experiences.