Here the questions and there (perhaps) the answers: “If you need someone to talk to, write to me on Instagram,” was the message for subsequent visitors left by one contributor. Another, in turn, used the audio agony column to express their anger about a misleading navigation system, reports Max Scheidl. Both of these were reactions that the designer was seeking to trigger with his targeted questions: “What’s really annoying you right now? What could do your psyche some good? And when was the last time that you said something nice to a stranger?” The aim of Scheidl’s interventions in three public settings in Brigittenau (Sachsenpark, Handelskai Station on the U6 metro line, Hugo-Gottschlich-Park) was to offer answers to such questions with the help of playful communication tools: Personal stories were collected, technologies questioned, and participants encouraged to share enjoyable and less enjoyable experiences. The project sought to plug the gap between professional and missing support and, thus, address the stigmatization of psychological stress at a time in which this has become even more urgent: during the pandemic.
The intervention generates strategies that, at best, will make us a little more resilient in the face of future challenges. The jury of the Erste Bank ExtraVALUE Design Award (second place) made the following very positive statement: “Widescale, collective resilience cannot function without stable participants. This is the spirit in which Max Scheidl has designed these interventions, which have a surprising ability to achieve profound results. His artisans draw attention to the importance of looking after our spiritual well-being and communicate an awareness of psychological resilience in our everyday lives. Informed by the charisma of the designer, who is as engaging as he is amiable, the project provides participants with concrete approaches to addressing their questions that are both accessible and playful.”
ARTISANS OF PUBLIC PSYCHE was developed in cooperation with the Professional Association of Austrian Psychologists as a diploma project on the Design Investigations course of the University of Applied Arts and expanded on the occasion of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK 2021. The intervention should not be seen as a preventative measure and is aimed at mentally healthy people. It is not a substitute for professional help. The project team was supported by experts, who were present or on call. Free, confidential, and professional telephone advice for people in crises and difficult situations is available round-the-clock at the nationwide emergency telephone number 142.