Open Dementia and Magic Project for HKDI: Empathising dementia by disrupting the everyday, Hong Kong, China

In summer 2015, HKDI DESIS Lab was commissioned by the Jockey Club Centre of Positive Ageing (JCCPA) to design and prototype a set of “empathy tools” for Hong Kong citizens. The tools were required to enable people to better understand the illness of dementia. From its launch in April 2016, the toolkit was rolled out for training across Hong Kong communities.

To conclude the design involvement, HKDI DESIS published an A2 leaflet to explain the design rationale:

1. A Character With Dementia

  • Ageless: highlights dementia as a medical condition but not a natural ageing process, and so in other words not the natural characteristics of older people and should not have any suggestion of belonging to any social category, or suggest age, gender or even race
  • A non-human being: however having a humanoid physique that can perform daily tasks and have the facial expression to show the psychological states of the character
  • Named as The Brain Man腦人- With reference to the name of dementia in Chinese, we decided to highlight the brain as the main standout point of the character and added in the eraser over the brain to represents the degeneration of the organ

2. Open Dementia City Map

  • Asking a disruptive question, “what if everyone in the city has dementia?”
  • As the Brain-man forms the main population of the “Open Dementia City”, the map also serves to show that being perceived as abnormal, irrational or out-of-the-ordinary are not intrinsic to the symptoms or condition of dementia, but are shaped through the environment, i.e. the others in the city.

3. Objects With Dementia

  • 11 sets of “demented objects”- are objects with dementia, which can magically dement the participants temporarily.
  • These “Demented Objects” can help people to experience being demented in three ways:
  1. Disabled tools – stimulating tools to disable your capability
  2. Confused tools – twisted tools to make users confused in a situation
  3. Performed tools – disrupting games for users to “perform” being demented in a group