Innovation School Product Design

Thea Brown (She/her)

As a designer my practise focuses on a materials-driven life-centred-design approach. Life-Centred design sees designers considering other non-human organisms and species within the impact of their design. It also requires the designer to look at humans beyond their wants and needs as users, as complex beings made up of dreams, desires and impacted by wider relationships. Through my work  I bring non-human actors to the forefront of the conversation. In effect this allows a dialogue between humans and those who cannot speak, building bridges and allowing a greater understanding of the organisms that allow life to flourish.

My approach allows me to focus on storytelling as a foundation to my design. I am interested in how we communicate and design with nature in order to build and propose a more empathetic futures.

Renata Scotland
Spiritual Care-Sanctum

Collaborative Work
Balance of Care

Renata Scotland

“Renata” means reborn in Latin. This is central to the ethos of my speculative non-profit which I created as a direct response to addressing poverty of ceremony after experiencing death, during the grieving process. To facilitate this Renata Scotland partners with private estates who are part of Scottish Land and Estates (formerly Scottish Landowners Association) to ensure public access to walking routes and areas of Natural Beauty.

Within these designated spaces I have provided natural “shrines” for people to visit to have a peaceful moment of reflection when experiencing grief and loss. The shrines are placed during spring Equinox and will reintegrate into nature after Samhain. Using seasonality as the backbone to our community practice allows for personal growth in tandem with seasonal change. Users are invited to break away a piece of the shrine during their visit as a souvenir for reflection to take home.

In this case human action helps to fuel the natural cycle. By breaking away wax talismans from the shrine it allows for the shrine to reintegrate back into its natural surroundings. The base of the shrine itself is made using found materials. In my example I have used found wood but this could be apply to anything which the talismans could stick to. I propose that the talismans themselves are made of eco-friendly waxes. Wax is a very malleable substance allowing the user to alter or dispose of the wax in any way they see fit for them. This allows for a private moment of reflection and release through loss via acts such as melting or giving away the talisman.




Observing layers and relationships between organisms in nature


Visualising interplay between life, death and spirits from a cyclical angle


This is the walkthrough for the Renata Scotland Website. This site allows users to locate the nearest shrine to them, plan journeys and download maps. It also includes an archive of previous shrines and shrines to come.


The Renata Scotland shrine placed in nature to allow users to break off talismans. This affords the user a moment of reflection whilst helping the shrine return to nature by removing its covering of talismans


A moment of reflection after breaking away a talisman.


The talismans can then be taken home and altered to create a meaningful memento to mark the occasion

Project Process Journal link

Spiritual Care-Sanctum

With the increase in popularity for exercises such as mindfulness and meditation in order to care for “the whole self” in 2031 care will reflect the growing trend of wellness. This is a more holistic approach to care that looks not only and the body but also the mind, soul and life-style. To address growing demand for wellness-inspired care in 2031 healthcare will develop to incorporate spiritual care into its framework.

Spiritual Care is a speculative care proposal. It addresses the times in a patient’s journey when they struggle to find something to believe in. It specifically focuses on offering support after a diagnosis. To facilitate this, a new branch of  NHS Scotland would be created: The NHS Scotland Care Trust. The Care Trust would include a Spiritual Care branch under which would exist the new role of Narrative Counsellor. Spiritual Care itself is non-religious, however, it can be incorporated into the existing belief systems of patients and their loved-ones. The flexibility of this system reflects the growing religious diversity across the UK in the next 10 years, allowing the system to evolve and adapt to changing social structures.

Through a series of sessions the Narrative Counsellor will guide the patient on a meditative journey by asking targeted questions pertaining to their core beliefs such as “when do you feel most vulnerable?” and “what does joy mean to you?”. Loved -ones are invited to participate in these sessions as well, it is important to recognise that no patient is an island, Spiritual Care extends into their relationships.

To facilitate this, each patient is supplied with a figurine named Sanctum that responds to the patient’s spiritual input. Sanctum is powered by a “heart” which grows stronger with use, when held the figurine reacts to the users body heat and goes clear exposing the heart inside. The colours of Sanctum are dependent on the emotions and energy of the patient meaning each Sanctum is unique and the colours will change over time. Essentially, Sanctum acts as a “living” reflection of their spiritual journey.

The Scottish government investing in Spiritual Care and the creation of a new Care Trust would signal a move to a more holistic approach to healthcare that looks at patients not only as individuals but addresses relationships and lifestyles. This in turn would allow for a more preventative approach to care which would benefit the NHS by easing strain on resources.




Sanctum is activated by the user placing a finger on its "hat". this would incorporate finger print ID so that Sanctum remains personal to its user and cannot be altered without their permission.


Showing the inside of Sanctum, the heart that powers the figurine and grows stronger the more the user interacts.


Having gone through narrative counselling the user is then able to use Sanctum at home or in any environmnet that acts as a safe space


Thermo-reactive material sample for Sanctum


Contextualising future worries about caring for the souls and spirits of loved-ones

Project Process Journal link

Balance of Care

The ‘Balance of Future Care’ team focused on researching a future world centred around people and care. We started off our research by looking at past, present, and future trends and then understanding care throughout time up to 2050. Our team future world exhibit showcases our findings.

By 2031, we believe the world will be in a more complex and chaotic state than today. Our future world is one of post-normalcy and chaos.

Using the future world exhibit, participants have to make decisions based on limited resources about their hopes, desires, and care needs. Based on the theories of a causal loop, participants’ decisions will ultimately decide their final future world outcome. Our exhibit is there to show the delicate balance between our choices and their effects on the future of care.

Our exhibit could be a decision-making tool for practitioners working in care and citizens understanding different care needs.