When it comes to questions around mental and emotional wellbeing, people normally look to mental health professionals for answers. But could there be a design solution for unhappiness, a negative emotion, that many people battle with? Italian designer and Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Silvia Neretti certainly thinks so.
Known as “The Unhappiness Repairer”, Neretti is the creator of a mobile pop-up psychotherapy office that “repairs” unhappy people. Her inspiration to “design happiness” came from her fascination with human behaviour. She says she was curious as to why society gives us all kinds of support, design support for physical disabilities for example, but never the kind that empowers self-awareness and independence from particular contexts. For instance, unhappiness in personal and professional workspaces.
Her practice, which merges design with psychotherapy, involves a process which mirrors a typical psychotherapy session with a mental health professional. Much like how a mental health professional would run therapy sessions with clients (seated on chairs opposite each other and having a conversation) she also sits opposite her client and starts off with conversation.
The twist in her psychotherapy sessions is how Silvia gives the agency to the client. A client, she says, can be anybody, they just need to be unhappy in a specific context (a tangible one) and complain about everything which makes them unhappy. Even though she jokes about her psychotherapy practice being a bait and nothing official yet, you can watch this video of her unconventional first session with client Ingrid who was unhappy after a recent divorce.
Whether people end up happier or not is not in her hands. Her design, she says, is to give you the boost and tools to define and create your own happiness.