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Spa x Home: From Health-Centered Design to Designing Healing Rituals in a Pandemic

Jenka Gurfinkel

02 Feb, 8:00 pm

2 h

Designers are agents of public health. Whether we work on consumer apps or enterprise software, the choices we make directly affect the physical, mental, and social health of our users. How do we design experiences that promote a culture of health? This workshop will cover a health-centered design values framework, as well as a hands on, full-sensory, restorative ritual that combines new technology with ancient practices to nurture the longest relationship you’ll have in your life: the one with your body and mind.


From selfies to likes to bottomless swipes to "quantified selves" to "People also liked," our pervasive technology is persuasively designed to disembody us. To objectify our relationship to ourselves and others. To "hook" our attention and "hack" our psychology. To disconnect us from ourselves so that we stay connected to our tech.

Today it’s easier than ever to design highly usable experiences that degrade the health of the people who use them. How do we move beyond just “design thinking” and embed health-thinking into our products and design decisions?

This workshop will explore an applied values framework for design that promotes a culture of health, and deliver an experience designed in that framework. A digitally distributed, real-world, restorative spa retreat you are invited to join from the comfort of home.

For the Spa x Home we’ll use everyday household ingredients (see list below) to nourish our skin, trigger point massage to be kind to our bodies, and guided meditation and crystal bowl sound bath to calm our minds. We'll use our new digital tools combined with ancient practices to create a real-time experience of relaxation, re-embodying, and replenishment for guests in attendance around the world.

--- Spa x Home Ingredients List ---

  • Honey (alt: mud or any face mask you like)
  • Aloe (alt: cucumber slices)
  • Olive oil (alt: any face oil you like)
  • Incense or candle (or aroma diffuser)
  • The ingredients for your favorite drink to unwind
  • Bonus: Lavender essential oil (alt: Jasmine essential oil)

--- You will also need ---

  • Access to a kitchen or bathroom
  • Quiet place where you can be relaxed
  • Bed or somewhere comfortable you can lie down
  • Robe or other attire you like for lounging
  • Hair elastic / bandana / headband for getting your hair away from your face
  • Clean hand towel
  • Large, microwave-safe bowl (or just a large bowl if you’re not using a microwave)
  • Small bowl / teacup / small glass
  • Tablespoon

Meet the speaker

Jenka Gurfinkel


Principal UX Designer at athenahealth

As Principal UX Designer at athenahealth, a network of more than 160,000 providers and 110 million patients, I design platform-scale solutions to empower patients, grow provider business, and improve population health outcomes. I have previously designed customer experience solutions for some of the world’s largest brands and organizations, including Toyota, Live Nation, and AARP. My work and writing have been featured in Wired, TechCrunch, The LA Times, WBEZ, and more.

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