“The effect of stress and anxiety are often manifested in fidgeting, something that is usually discouraged” Grace Hancock is a young designer from Brighton. Designing with 3D materials and plastics, she considers herself to be both a designer and maker. “Her work is centered around the creation of objects that improve physical and metal well being.” At the up and beyond graduate show Grace presented a series of ‘Fidgets’, which aims to relieve the tension of stress and anxiety.
Typically treatment for stress and anxiety takes form in therapy sessions. Here a patient is confronted with entering an unfamiliar space. They are asked to expose their feelings to a person who they have no prior relationship with in order to learn how to control their feelings. The fidgetables form “invoke ideas of homes, shelters and comfort.” This reduces the users exposure to more stress and anxiety through decreasing the state of vulnerability.
The fidgetables are categorised in 5 key fidget types; press, rub, squeeze, scratch, and spin. ‘Press’ uses a tactile material to inform the user to press the buttons. This turns the various LED’s on and off; varying the colour with each press.
‘Rub’ was made through casting resin that had copper powder inside it. When the object is rubbed the copper beneath becomes visible.
‘Squeeze’ shows the contrast between materials through there tactility; the task is to remove the center object by manipulating the silicone casing.
‘Scratch’ informs the scratching away of the exterior paint revealing a cast resin shape.
‘Spin’ incorporates a spinning mechanism where an object spins and slides along an axis.
The “palm-sized objects can be retrieved at times of needs to harness the calming powers of tactility.” The ‘Fidgets’ afford a performance of relatively simple repetitive tasks that provide a satisfying feeling with every manipulation. The repelling and attracting magnetic rings by Grace Hancock also incur this satisfying feeling though the attraction and compulsion of the magnets in the rings. It causes us to enter this circling pattern of play where we connect the magnets then pull them apart. Only to hold the magnets apart just enough to feel the twisting force of the magnetic field trying to repel the magnets. The objects can work individually though with the shape of the ring one can imagine themselves spinning the ring around their finger with their thumb.
According to Steven Connor the concept of a fidgetable affords a magical nature about an object. The ‘Fidgets’ all reveal an exploration of materials and technology giving them a magical affiliation. A blogger from ‘The Future Prefect Company’ saw Grace’s work at the up and beyond graduate show claims, “what immediately struck me was how attractive these objects were and how they invited interaction.” The objects affordance is not intimidating to the user but invites a powerful desire to want to play and explore. “One way of putting this is to say that such objects are invested with powers, associates and significances, that they are therefore not just docile things, but signs, showings, epiphanies.”
The idea behind the objects is to create a therapeutic way of dealing with stress and anxiety. Though a series of inconspicuous coping mechanism’s that affords reflection. The user is placed in a mindless trance when interacting with the objects as if the mind seems to be curating its own ideas through play with the object. The intentional act of fidgeting with the objects distracts the user by occupying and channeling the mind to reflect.
The silver focus ring by Grace Hancock exemplifies this reflective practice evidently by reflecting light. This sources reflection on habits with stress and anxiety, but also plays a distraction. We have all experienced this reflection when your sitting in the car or on a train and a beam of light hits your mobile phone. The light is reflected onto the wall next to you, so you play with the phone in your hand moving the light around onto the roof and walls. Distracting you from the environment and causing you to enter a new one where you have the capabilities to manipulate it.
The ‘Fidgets’ Grace developed “as a series of coping mechanisms” proved and oddly powerful tool in reducing stress and anxiety. This is because all the power in the object comes from us; thus causing us to reflect through fidgeting. This enables us to control our mind and release stressful and anxious tensions.
“Something that is at once part of the world something that can be owned and kept and fixed in place and relied upon to stay put, in all the unusual ways objects can, and yet also resembles me, in all my figurative, variability, all my ways of being beside, and taking leave of myself.”