With an ironic twist on Andrew Carnegie’s famous quote “My heart is in the work”, Is Our Heart in the Work? is a campaign initiative that is dedicated to promoting conversations—between isolated individuals that are stuck in the stigma of stress culture—with the hope of shifting the environment to one that promotes a positive community and a more balanced lifestyle.
Systems | Branding | Visual Design
Team: Audrey Zheng and Jacob Paul
Inspired by our own experiences dealing with the stress culture at Carnegie Mellon University, our group discovered that after being honest with one another about how we each deal with stress we realized that having a healthy conversation made us realize that the way we saw the stress culture shifted.
Being students at CMU ourselves, our team knew of the stress culture, but we needed to gain a further in-depth understanding of where the pain points of the system were located, what they were, and what is causing them.
01—Understanding the Existing System
To gain further insight on the issue, we conducted a user survey that was sent out to our intended audience, the Carnegie Mellon University student population.
Most students deal with stress on a regular basis—most of which is caused by a large workload, difficult coursework, and the sense of pride that comes with sacrificing a healthy lifestyle.
The interventions that the school provided, such as the campus counseling or the meditation room, proved to do little to help change the community mindset.
The way students deal with stress are generally done in isolation, but those that deal with it in a healthy way talk about their stress with friends and family.
Carnegie Mellon University has been trying to combat the stress culture that has manifested on campus. The anxiety and extreme competitive attitudes have become a desired lifestyle where prioritizing schoolwork over health, friends, hobbies has become normalized and desirable.
This problem is echoed in the school motto…
“My heart is in the work” — Andrew Carnegie
How do we encourage change?
We focused on our audience’s wants and needs in regards to stress culture, and what we want to try to communicate to them. Once we figured out our call to action, we brainstormed different mediums that would encourage our audience to be engaged throughout all of them.
We came up with Is Our Heart In the Work?—a 3 week initiative that aims to promote healthy conversations between individuals stuck in the stigma of campus stress culture through physical and digital experiences.
Promote and normalize having a balanced lifestyle
Creating sense of community
Engaging, desirable, accessible experience
We looked through a few visual examples of how we would layout our slogan, “Is Our Heart in the Work?”. However, we quickly realized that there were too many ways that it may be received in a way that might invoke even more negative emotions. We definitely wanted to embrace our original idea of showing stress, then some sort of release, but it was somewhat difficult to show stress without making it look like a horror movie poster. We also didn’t want to lighten it up to the point that it looked as if we weren’t taking the topic seriously.
We ended up using a dark purple background with colorful shapes/graphics that made the slogan stand out. The glitch effect was also toned down, but was still obvious enough to catch the eye of users that walk past it.
The first part of this project was to get people informed and excited about the idea of changing the stress culture system. To do this, we set up posters to advertise the setup of our interactive installation. The posters themselves defined the visuals for the rest of our system to help our audience recognize that they are a part of the same campaign.
For the first installation, we wanted people to approach it by viewing the famous quote said by Andrew Carnegie, “My heart is in the work”, in a different light. Instead of their work—that is the cause of many student’s stress on campus—where is their heart really at?
The second installation prompts students to think about what they are stressed about and and then prompts them to respond to their peer’s struggles. The problem + consolation pairs will add up to a shared, supportive community installation post.
09—Taking Home the Experience
Stickers were handed out after the students went through the installations. Their purpose was to act as a reminder that there’s more to each individual than just their work work.
10—Transition to a Digital Platform
Our installations ended up receiving a lot of positive reception and an overwhelming amount of participation from the audience we wanted to reach, so we wanted to give our audience another space to continue the same interactions without the restraints of a physical space.
To do this, we created a website that would give students a safe environment to be anonymous and talk freely about their stress while reading and commenting on other people’s comments with advice, suggestions, or words of comfort.
Working on and learning to direct and be the decision-maker in this group project was definitely a challenge and forced me to make sure everyone stayed on task while getting things done in a timely manner. I learned a lot about working together with my team during the process that I’ve since applied to other work. I also learned a lot about developing a visual style across multiple mediums and scales that would suit our overall concept, our call to action, and our audience.
The project itself was also enjoyable for me since it touched on a topic that I have dealt with personally, so I am very pleased with starting the conversation that will hopefully begin to change a stressful system.