As spring turned to summer last year, Hong Kong faced a mounting mental health crisis. Schools and offices had been closed on and off for months, and people were spending more time than ever cooped up at home. The stress was exacerbated by months of protest and an ongoing political crackdown.
Marisa Yiu thought she could help ease some of the mental strain. She is an architect and the co-founder and executive director of Design Trust, a Hong Kong-based nonprofit that funds and promotes design projects. In May, Yiu launched a design initiative called “Critically Homemade.” It was an open invitation to designers based in Hong Kong and abroad to try their hand at designing a small homemade prototype—no larger than 20 x 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 x 8 inches), small enough to fit on the palm of one’s hands—to better help people cope with the pandemic’s stresses.
In particular, Yiu wanted the prototypes to foster intergenerational play and wellbeing for families stuck at home, and to encourage collaborative and creative thinking, even in isolation.