Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Marie Højlund; Sofie Kinch: ALARMING ATMOSPHERES - EMBODIED SOUND HABITUATION AS DESIGN STRATEGY IN A NEURO-INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
5.2 Form & interaction
Kidkit is flexible interactive furniture, which accompanies the children and nurse throughout a visit: from the waiting room, to the ward, and back again. Its flexibility allows for change in form, and its interaction corresponds to the specific functions it serves during the different stages of the visit. Kidkit is designed with the overall rhythm and structure of the visit in mind: First, Kidkit assists children through the entire visit, becoming a secure anchor that can detract focus from the sudden shifts in atmospheres, thus helping the children become more sensitive to time than to spaces. Second, the temporal design allows for adaption to specific rhythmical functions, appropriate to the different environmental settings. Taking these aspects into account, the bodily rhythms of the children adapt in relation to their habituation process, as described below. We thus present different design tactics relating to specific stages of the visit:
VideoObject2: Kidkit in use
a) When Kidkit is introduced to the user in the waiting room for the first time, it is in the form of five upholstered blocks, stacked into two piles, the upper block of each of the two piles being flexible. Kidkit is designed to afford two occupants (child and adult) a surface to sit on, at eye-level with each other, accommodating an intimate atmosphere. A touch interface with eight sound triggers (explained in detail in the next section) is sewn onto the surface of the upper, green, block of Kidkit.
VideoObject3: Kidkit sound triggers
b) When the users are ready to go into the ward, the wheels of Kidkit are revealed by means of a handle, thus making it possible to lift and lower the furniture and wheel it from one space to another. The mobility of Kidkit allows the child to bring something to which she is habituated into the ward, encouraging her to take ownership of Kidkit before, during, and after the visit as a familiar anchor in a confusing and unknown environment.
VideoObject4: Kidkit wheeling
c) The flexibility of the form allows the child to alter the form from that of a seat to a stairway configuration when placed by the bedside in the ward, assisting her to stand, at eye-level, beside the hospitalised relative. The physical, bodily, way of interacting with Kidkit, through rhythmic folding and unfolding manoeuvres, invites the child to create meaning through embodied interaction.
VideoObject5: Kidkit unfolding
The colours support the various transformations of Kidkit. In the waiting room, where it serves as a tool for playful exploration, Kidkit exhibits strong colours. In the ward, in the stairway configuration, the sound triggers are hidden, and its most visible colours are in the grey scale, so as to attract less visual attention. The simplicity of the quadrangular shapes of the five poufs is similar to building blocks, and the shape of Kidkit, corresponding to the scale of a child’s body, allows for flexible play practices. We emphasize that Kidkit is not a handheld device, but furniture that physically relates equally to body and space, affording collective use. In this manner, Kidkit initiates a shared transitional space, for the child, the other relatives, and also for the nurse, assisting them with coordinating the visit (Kinch and Højlund 2013). Furthermore, the size and materiality of Kidkit challenges the child to be physically engaged, moving focus away from the sudden shifts in atmospheres.