Many will groan at the physical and mental woes involved with assembling flatpack furniture.
Squinting over a condescendingly written manual, pulling a back muscle over drilling it together or starting an argument over where the furniture should go might sound familiar.
Design agency Special Projects wanted to bring a little more joy to the process. They’ve created three of their own tongue-and-cheek manuals, dubbed The Missing Pages, which acknowledge the emotional tensions of the construction process.
Each manual – Duo, Stretchi and Sleepi – is designed to encourage domestic calmness by offering ways to deal with the stresses that arise from following an instruction manual, such as doing yoga or making a craft. Even though the manuals are light-hearted on the surface, the agency makes a serious point about the importance of empathy and wellbeing.
The Missing Pages project originated from Special Projects’ work on the Samsung manual created to engage older phone users in 2009. The agency’s research involved reading thousands of manuals, instruction books and catalogues. They found the tone of instruction manuals, from horse riding to knotting, usually failed to address the broader emotional experience of assembling a product or completing a task.
The Missing Pages can be downloaded for free from the Special Projects website.
Clara Gaggero Westaway and Adrian Westaway founded Special Projects. Their projects combine user-centric design with positivity. International brands such as Google, Samsung and P&G.
They’ve earned multiple design awards for their digital and physical crossover projects, including a Lego-based time management tool and weighing scales.
Here are the three manuals.
Duo is designed to alleviate any relationship tensions that might emerge whilst assembling a piece of furniture, like a bed.
The manual is centred on a couple’s therapy exercise, in which making a craft is used to diffuse arguments.
Stretchi counteracts the backache and muscle strain that can arise from moving heavy panels or spending too long cranking an Allen key.
The manual details simple, 30-second yoga poses to ease mental and physical pains over an “over-intense DIY session” – even suggesting the box as a yoga mat.
The Sleepi manual shows parents how to partake in a calming craft activity after the process of building a baby cot.
The end product of thread, scissors, tape and paper can be a sensory sculpture to put above the child’s sleeping space.