Frame 119 is hitting stores this Wednesday. In this issue – titled Welcome to the Responsive Workplace – one of the topics we discuss is how to reduce stress, particularly in today’s always-on workforce.

In the section of the magazine called The Challenge, five makers were commissioned to conceptualize a product, space, or service to address the global increase of work-related burnout, depression, and insomnia. At the same time, we received online submissions by designers from all over the world in response to this topic. Here are five designs we selected.

Mind Wandering Bloom by Caroline Angiulo

Photo Caroline Angiulo

Textile designer and researcher Caroline Angiulo created Mind Wandering Bloom, a playful collection of interactive toys intended to soothe the user with a combination of sensory stimulation and repetitive actions. Think knitting, meets stress balls, meets the Fidget Cube. Angiulo describes herself as intrigued by colours, movement, interaction, imagination, surrealism, and fantasy.

Mind Wandering Bloom aims to provide people with a momentary escape into the fantastical. ‘Mind wandering occurs when you are executing an easy, repetitive, and relatively unstimulating task, enabling you to lapse into “task-unrelated” thoughts,’ Angiulo explains. ‘Research suggests that this state of mind is healthy for mental wellbeing and can help stimulate creativity.’

Photo Caroline Angiulo

The project offers tactile relief from the distractions of technology and the digital world, and is aimed at people who experience anxiety. Angiulo has developed a collection of these Mind Wandering Blooms to be sold in an office vending machine. The range of six ‘mind wandering touch tasks’ include ‘Braid me’, ‘Twist me’, and ‘Unravel me’, referencing the imaginative escape in Alice in Wonderland to another world, and a different way of being.


We are Stardust by Merle Flügge and Job Mouwen

Flügge and Mouwen’s response to the immediate stressors and problems of daily life was to literally zoom out to gain a wider perspective. ‘The obvious cure for stress is to change our hectic lifestyles, but equally important is to change our view of life itself,’ says Flügge and Mouwen. ‘We were inspired by the concept of the “overview effect” – the sense of awe experienced by astronauts in outer space when looking back upon Earth.’ According to the designers, the sight of our fragile Blue Marble in the infinite expanse of space has a life-changing impact on the astronaut.

The We are Stardust telescope provides an immersive experience of space, encapsulating the entire body of the user within a soundproof ‘womblike’ cushioned interior while showing them the light of the stars. Intended to replicate the awe of being in space, Flügge and Mouwen hope to trigger a cognitive shift in the everyday worker: a new kind of self-awareness, akin to that achieved through meditation.


Echo by Julia Thomann

Design Academy Eindhoven alumna Julia Thomann created Echo, a series of water mirrors that reconnects interior spaces to nature. The black graphic shapes of Echo combine hard and soft materials as well as a variety of matte and shiny textures, and refract light through water to create mercurial reflections.

‘Echo creates an echo of emotions,’ Thomann explains. ‘Water is constantly changing its character and appearance, so the water mirrors create an altered reflection of ourselves. The use of water encourages us to relax and rediscover our inner balance, and brings the connection with nature into the home environment.’

Visible Light by Onedesignspace

Using overlaying colour disks, Visible Light aims to encourage interaction and playfulness through a game of mindful colourful lighting compositions. The acrylic disks in the three primary colours of red, yellow, and blue are rotated by hand, which requires people to take an active and immediate role.

In the studio’s explorations of creative disciplines from architecture to photography, Onedesignspace has always been focused on the elements of light, colour, and space, all three of which are in play in Visible Light. Exhibited at Milan Design Week 2017, Visible Light proved irresistible to children who delightedly spun the disks in an endless game of colour and light.

RESET by UNStudio


Designed by UNStudio in collaboration with social design specialists Scape and a multidisciplinary team of experts, the immersive RESET (Responsive Emotional Transformation) pods feature scientifically proven stress reduction methods within an interactive and modular structure. Each unit provides a unique de-stressing experience using varying shapes, materials, colours, and lights.

Photo © Oddproduzione

Photo © Oddproduzione 

RESET applies up to six different stress reduction methods to its users, with wearables that track visitors’ responses in real time to provide each individual with the method that works best for them. RESET monitors brain and heart activity to learn the personal preferences of its users and provide personalized biofeedback using the RESET Index, a proprietary algorithm that analyzes the user’s resilience to stress and recommends the most suitable RESET experience.

Photo © Oddproduzione

For more designs addressing workspaces and the future of stress reduction, pick up Frame 119 online and in stores worldwide from 1 November.