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Design for Disaster

This body of creative work focuses on the development of speculative furniture designed to mitigate the negative psychological impacts of earthquakes. Furniture has a unique relationship to seismic events. For instance, we are instructed to “duck, cover, and hold” beneath a table during an earthquake to avoid injury from falling debris. Within this context a common table undergoes an instantaneous transformation in becoming shelter: an architecture of personal scale. In looking beyond the physical implications of earthquakes, this research challenges our normative associations to furniture by exploring the capacity for everyday objects to function in relieving the psychological effects of traumatic events. The impact from a direct experience of an earthquake can be stressful and enduring, extending far beyond the period of the tremor. For those residing in a seismically active region such as New Zealand, the threat of a pending event is an ever constant source of anxiety. Through the creation of physically and digitally interactive, multi-material furniture forms, my work employs empathy, humour, play, and characteristics of emotional durability in an aim to foster psychological resilience in the face of seismic events and related disasters.