BRANDING / RESEARCH / PRODUCT DESIGN / APP DESIGN / PROTOTYPE PRODUCTION
What started as a project to create a scale that doesn't promote obsessive behavior and eating disorders, Aegle became more than a scale, a health tracker and promoter. Project developed as an exploration of my final project for my Design Capstone course at The University of Texas at Austin.
From August until October 2019, I conducted an extensive research on media's impact on body image and society's expectations towards women
This research involved talking to real people about their experiences, conducting interviews and a online survey, watching the documentary Killing Us Softly 4 and reading books like The Ministry of Thin by Emma Woolf, Airbrushed Nation by Jennifer Nelson, and So Sexy So Soon by Diane Levin Ph.D. and Jean Kilbourne Ed.D..
My research pointed out that women are the ones who pressure themselves to reach unrealistic expectations created by society and promoted by the media. With that insight, I brainstormed and analyzed different methods that women use to evaluate their body with the objective to find an opportunity for an intervention.
The brainstorming exercise led me to identify scales as the most popular and destructive method that women use to push themselves to reach unrealistic standards.
Scales are inexpensive, and easy to use, which makes their accessibility extremely high. Their quantitative data and speedy data production promotes obsessive behavior - leading people to become obsessed, weighing themselves various times per day and comparing the numerical data to evaluate their efforts.
Nowadays, most scales come with a mobile app where their users can analyze their data even further, diving deeper into their obsession. Some companies such as Quantum and Shapa made attempts to move away from the unhealthy obsession with weight by creating scales that provides a different type of data to their users. However, despite their efforts, both companies still play their part on supporting society's unrealistic expectations towards women.
Quantum does so by showing their users how much weight they gained or lost since the last time they weighted along with a happy face if they lost weight or a sad face if they gained weight. Although Shapa does a better job by not showing their users their weight, they still give them their "Shapa Age" which is based on their fitness, supporting the ideal that women should always look young.
The human body changes, adapts, and endures. It's a natural vehicle, a vessel we have been given to experience life. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and regardless of all these differences, they are all equally beautiful. It's important to honor it, cherish it, and nourish it. A healthy body is a beautiful body.
Aegle is the greek goddess of radiant health Her name means beauty of the human body when in good health, therefore, it seemed fitting to name this project after her.
My objective is to redefine the experience of using a scale by making it about self-care. To do so, I'm referring to natural materials and colors as well as physical places where people traditionally practice self-care such as spa houses.
In order to achieve my goal, I wanted the user's experience with the product to be seamless. I don't want them thinking "I'm going to weigh myself now" when stepping into Aegle. I wanted to disconnect this new product from all the expectations and anxiety surrounding body scales.
Initially, I started looking at industrial platform scales that are often embedded to the floor. But the wellness aspect of my project shifted me to look at bamboo bath mats and think about how I could morph it into a scale. The bamboo bath mat seemed to fit perfectly around all the ideas that I wanted to communicate through this project. The material - bamboo - takes Aegle one step further from the anxiety of scales and towards wellness.
MOBILE APPLICATION - ONBOARDING
So that the app experience reflects the main concept of the project, I decided to create an onboarding process that works somewhat like a self-reflection of one’s current habits and personal goals.
I wanted users to feel welcomed, understood, and valued. This guided my word choice for the application’s copy and the order of the questions in the onborading process.
INITIAL APPROACH - BRANDING & APP
When first targeting Aegle’s branding. I got carried away by the stereotypical visuals used to indicate positive and negative information, trying to steer away from them. Also focused on the understanding and friendly aspects of Aegle’s personality as a brand.
This resulted in a work that although fulfilled the objectives that I was focusing on at the time, was completely disconnected from the physical product.
IDENTIFYING THE MARKET & FINAL BRANDING
So that the branding was properly aligned to the product that I’ve created, I reevaluated my target market. Although ideally I wanted this product to be available to a larger mass of consumers, realistically the majority of Aegle owners would be represented by successful adults between 20-45 years old.
With that and the physical product’s design in mind, I revised my mood board and developed a visual identity that communicated Aegle’s goal and personality while also appealing to the newly identified target market.