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Global Innovation Design (MA/MSc)

Maraid Mcewan

I am a human centred researcher and designer. I use reconceptualisation as a tool to facilitate new conversations around gender inequality and inclusivity.

Experience & Education

MA/MSC Global Innovation Design, Royal College of Art and Imperial College London (2021)

BA Textile design, The University of Leeds (2018)

I am the founder of Lock Down Ladies, a charity print business that has thus far raised over £11,000 for domestic violence charities globally. I am currently an ambassador for both Refuge UK and Girls Rise UP, working on issues of girls safety and inequality.

Before my time at the RCA, I worked in both commercial textile print and high fashion atelier design in New York and London. Studying at the University of Leeds with a BA in Textile Design, my past exploratory textile and craft work has been shown and published in London and Tallinn, Estonia.

After two years on the GID programme, exploring the theme of gender inequality and inclusivity, I now categorise myself as an emotion led designer, artist and researcher. 

My work reconceptualises emotion through experience, interactions, shape and form. I believe that by abstracting concepts and looking at them in new ways, we have the ability to change perspectives on social issues.

Beyond the Binary is an ongoing research project that explores how we can use emotion tracking to successfully validate perspective change and awareness building. The project is supported by Panasonic, utilising their digital human technology by quantifying the state of a person's body and mind. Panasonic has supported the development of user-friendly products and services such as home appliances and housing facilities, and hopes to push the project's validation further. This will be on display at the GID satellite event on the 16th-18th July.

The aim is to push the boundaries of the realms of emotion detection as a tool for both social justice and immersive experience.

If you would like to collaborate, chat or learn more, please do get in touch.

Are you trans inclusive?

Beyond the Binary is an experiential design installation for trans inclusivity.

Two in five trans people in the UK have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months, a culture of micro-aggressions contribute towards this exclusion.

Over the last 6 months, I had the pleasure of working with Transpire Southend UK; a trans support network group. Working collaboratively with 5 members of the group, correlations in experience occurred; manifesting in 3 themes of microaggressions.

Through user research with the group, a comment stuck with me; “If only people knew how it felt to be trans, I think they would empathise more”. Beyond the Binary does just that.

The design reconceptualises these micro aggressions into designed interactions for the cis-gendered user to confront. Through abstract mirrors, frustration tasks and engaging pitch of voice changers, the user then contextualises the abstract emotions, through real trans stories. The experience uses emotion detection technology to prove that awareness has been raised and perception of trans issues changed. 

Ultimately, Beyond the Binary is a tool to learn to unlearn the gender binary and transform perspectives for a more gender inclusive world.

In collaboration with:

Transpire Southend

Beyond the Binary
Beyond the Binary Installation
Interaction 1: The Refracting Mirror
Interaction 2: The Impossible Puzzle
Interaction 3: The Pitch Changer
Interactive book of trans stories
User Journey through installation
User Journey through installation
Design Breakdown: Micro aggression identified; Emotion detected; Design
Interviews, focus groups, and workshops were held to define the problem space.
A reflective methodology was developed to ensure sensitivity.
Iterative rounds of experience prototyping were necessary to understand how the user would interact with the design.
The experience was tested on a group of cis-gendered users. My role as a researcher was to interview the user at each stage.
Sentiment analysis used to decipher emotion from trans interviews, and subsequent user testing interviews
Was it my place as a cis-gendered woman to take on this project? Transpire answers this question in this video.

Over the last 6 months I worked collaboratively with the trans support network group; Transpire Southend. As a human centered researcher, I developed a reflective methodology to ensure sensitivity and accuracy of experience was being displayed. 

Sentiment analysis from each interview was used to detect emotions to replicate onto cis-gendered users. This was then tested, and found that accurate emotions were replicated. It is important to note that these emotions are not akin to that of the trans experience as a whole, but rather a snapshot into that experience.

With special thanks to Transpire Southend, for letting me listen to your experiences.

How might domestic violence victims better communicate and represent their therapy journeys whilst at home?

User results of connection to shape and emotion
The Shapes
User Testing
Making Process
The Journal
The Reveal
The Reveal

An expressive therapy tool for domestic violence victims on their journey through therapy.

Domestic violence rose exponentially in the New York City area during COVID 19.This project addressed the decrease in art and expressive therapy outlets for survivors. Created in collaboration with art therapists in Brooklyn; Crystal Chen.  

Memorable Artefacts presents a set of shapes that attempt to encompass the feelings of domestic abuse trauma, and recovery. It allows users to better communicate emotions through attachment to transitional objects, whilst homing them in a memorable and safe vessel to reflect on.

The Shapes are designed to include smooth, rigid, angular and fluid motions. These can encapsulate many feelings.

The Artefact comprises the plate, vessel and top. All correspond to different practices used by art therapists. Two layers of acrylic are used to create anticipation and a revealing element in the therapy journey.

The Journal includes the process of weekly check ins with the therapist. The journal acts as a way to reflect on the process. 

At the end, each user is left with a memorable artefact of their journey, which can be edited over time.

Featured in the Sunday Times Style 2021

Lock Down Ladies will be holding its first solo exhibition from the 23-30th July at Hackney Downs Studios, supported by Eat Work Art. Raising money for Solace Women's Aid, a London based domestic violence charity.

1 in 3 women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Calls to domestic abuse hotlines around the globe increased fivefold during the pandemic. Lock Down Ladies is my personal artistic response to these issues.

Lock Down Ladies is a movement that has gained incredible momentum. Drawing over 250 women, gaining 3,000 followers and raising over £11,000 for 4 different charities. It has grown into a story of empowerment, community and expression.

It began by drawing the female form during lockdown for friends and peers. People would send me a picture of themselves in exchange for a personal drawing. All money raised has been donated to Refuge; a specialist UK organisation for women and children against domestic violence. The project has also raised £1,600 for London Black women’s project, £250 for Galop UK and £650 for the Our Streets Now Campaign.

If you would like to support domestic violence victims, please visit the website below to buy a print.

Instagram: @lock.downladies