“Feel Chair” – Emotionally Resonant Aesthetic Experiences in Oncology

Wan, Antonio
Reay, Stephen
Smith, Mandy
Douglas, Reid
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Master of Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

The project aimed to understand the experiences of cancer patients specifically those undergoing intravenous chemotherapy treatment to aid the redesign the infusion chair to improve these experiences. Chemotherapy is a systemic type of cancer treatment which can treat cancer cells almost anywhere in the body by using the patient’s bloodstream. Due to the nature of cancer, any cell type can become cancerous and consequently there is no definitive approach to cure all types of cancer. Chemotherapy is a regimen of drugs tailored to treat each patients whole body to helps fight the growth and spread of the cancerous malignant tumours. These drugs are unable to differentiate between a normal and mutated cell and cause the various side effects we all know of when we think of the word ‘cancer’ or ‘chemo’. The most common form of administrating chemotherapy is intravenously, where chemotherapy treatment can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over 8 hours. Chemotherapy is form of cancer treatment however, it has various side effects which can affect people in different ways. Because of this, the emotional experience of chemotherapy patients can differ between every patient depending on their situation.

Through the immersive research design practice and emotional journey taken, a clear understanding of the aesthetic and emotional landscape was achieved, ultimately exposing problem areas within the areas of performance, engineering, and aesthetics of the oncology ecosystem. The performance, engineering, and aesthetics of experience of products contribute to good healthcare design and the fundamental elements to bringing user experience to healthcare improvement. The prevailing paradigm within medicine on cost efficiency for medical outcomes hinders progress and change of aesthetic experiences within healthcare as the profession has traditionally focused on performance and engineering to achieve curative outcomes. This research focused on exploring the relationship between aesthetics and emotion, and where the value of design sat within the healthcare continuum. However, the immersive design practice used to complete this research has not only helped gain great insight into the chemotherapy experience, an understanding of the current aesthetics and emotions at play, but helped establish the foundation for the research by exposing the motivations of healthcare practitioners, healthcare designers, and my personal design ethos, the phenomena of care.

Design , Healthcare , Health , Care , Human centred design , Design research , Action research , Methodology , Emotional design , Emotional resonance , Aesthetic experience , Experience design , Oncology , Chemotherapy chair , Chemotherapy
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