Erika Renedo Illarregi
I am a designer and researcher. I began my research journey in India and Nepal by looking at culturally diverse conceptualisations of mental distress and asking myself if design could be used to unleash the potential of this diversity to support wellbeing and recovery.
Previously, I worked for Futurefarmers in San Francisco, creating participatory spaces and experiences that help destabilise logics of ‘certainty’ and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.
Together with colleague Pras Gunasekera, I facilitated the Makeright project run by the Design Against Crime Research Unit, co-designing anti-theft bags with inmates, and working as a research assistant. While in prison, I also initiated another co-design project aimed at identifying problems for inmates through design research and co-design for a better life inside.
I am currently studying for a PhD at The Open University looking to understand how and why designing may affect mental health and psychological change. I am also a director of Bidean, a social enterprise that co-designs products with people suffering from mental health problems to sell online.