Social Solitude: From Product to Platform In a Nutshell, by Eden Lew


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In Affirming Artifacts—a course which rapidly moves students from products to services to platforms, Class of 2016 student Eden Lew created Nutshell—a speculative enterprise aimed at reducing stress and providing a kind of respite from urban life.

 

"As a design student, I forget to eat meals because I never want to stop designing, and I'm constantly surrounded by excitement and activities. The Nutshell became my way of finding some personal peace and quiet."

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Students were asked to "redesign the next thing they threw out," and in seven weeks Eden Lew took a discarded sandwich wrapper on a journey through prototyping and branding, ending with Nutshell—a pod-inspired platform for productive break-taking.

Inspired by the wrapper, Eden initially identified potential user groups in students and professionals who habitually fail to take proper lunch breaks. The "Lunch sack" was prototyped and tested as an isolation pod for people to eat lunch inside. The next iteration of the sack simplified the pod, and by creating folds and stays, became a collapsible, and wearable, device. Armed with research around the benefits of being alone and re-branded as the Nutshell Go, Eden chose to pursue an ambitious goal of promoting the psychological benefits of solitude.

Following the introduction of a dark, opaque pod called Nutshell Blackout, and a headphone plush helmet called Headshell, the next phase of the project pushed the product into a service platform, and even further into an enterprise called Nutshell Labs, a company offering multiple products and services around solitude and wellbeing. In addition to its products, Nutshell Labs offers meditation workshops to companies and organizations interested in increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

Finally, the Nutshell Labs App serves as a platform for multiple kinds of interaction. Aimed at teaching people how to take relaxing yet productive breaks, users can listen to guided meditation and curated podcasts. The crowdsourced platform invites users to record and post their own podcasts to share with fellow nutshellers, introducing the notion of "social solitude"—where spending time with oneself isn't considered a lonely act, but a supported one.

In the end, the seven-week project resulted in a set of products, services, research, and interaction design aimed at supporting a vital (and viral) tribe of active break-takers, sharing thoughts, tracks, and techniques around the healthy benefits of solitude.

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