ALL THE INVISIBLE THINGS an experiment on material talk


In their thesis project Kirstine Elmhøj Hansen and Maria Haukali explain: Sometimes words don’t do justice when it comes to explaining mental vulnerabilities. Therefore, we tried to tell stories through materials, rather than words. With our project we aim to create relatable experiences that can help people gain empathy for people who are challenged by vulnerable minds.

Imagine a time when you tried to explain a dream you had to a friend – did they understand all the horrors and unicorns in it? Most likely not. They weren’t a part of the universe that was your reality in the dream. You try harder, but it starts to get boring for the ones listening because they can never really see what you saw. Then imagine that this dream is in fact your reality– your world. Still, no one can quite understand.

All The Invisible Things is a co-design project that culminated in a two- days exhibition, where we invited people to explore three installations. It was an interactive exhibition, where visitors had to engage with the installations by crawling through a room or sitting in a box. Furthermore we asked them to reply to the installations by creating their own small makings in response to the exhibition. This project has been an experiment in what we chose to call “material talk”. We wanted to explore how we could use co-design methods in trying to create an experiential dialogue tool that could help people experience what mental illness feels like. When we say “dialogue tool”, we mean that we aim for an object that provokes reflection to broaden one’s perspective, which can feed into a more reflected dialogue.

Our motivation for doing this project stems from experiences witnessing how people we love have struggled to explain what mental illness feels like in order for other people to understand it. Often, people try to explain mental illness with metaphors, but what if we tried to create some of these metaphors in a material way? Could it maybe help the understanding between people? All The Invisible Things is a co-design project with a focus on explorative design inquiries and experiments on how to create dialogue by carefully attending to, and making use of designerly materials. The process up until the exhibition focused on meeting young people with experiences of a vulnerable mind or mental illness. We asked the participants to express and tell some of their stories through different kind of materials. The result was a series of small makings. These makings served as sketches for the exhibition pieces – the dialogue tool.

Kirstine Elmhøj Hansen & Maria Haukali in collaboration with Københavns Kommunes Socialpsykiatri.

Contact: Kirstine:   //  Maria:

UN goal 3.

Learn more about the thesis project at the Design and Architecture Graduation Exhibition 1/7 – 13/8 2017 from 11.00 – 18.00 at KADK. Address: Udstillingen and Festsalen, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53, 1435 Copenhagen K.


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