Conscious Interventions With The Personal Beasties Breathing Mobile App

Marianna Trofimova
Adjunct Professor
Communication Design Department
New York City College of Technology
City University of New York
Principal at Marianna Trofimova Design

Paula Murgia
Co-Founder Personal Beasties Group, LLC

A common definition of an intervention is to interfere or intercede with the intent of modifying an outcome. To that end, we designed the Personal Beasties Breathing mobile app with a very specific therapeutic intervention in mind.

Adapting mindfulness techniques for the stressed out, millennial, Internet generation via a minimal viable product (MVP) mobile app interface.

The Personal Beasties Breathing mobile app design personifies the amygdala glands of the primitive brain using animated characters. Appropriate character themed music is provided for each short “breathing session”.

To help our stressed out Millennials develop the emotional intelligence skills of the rational brain, necessary in the modern workplace, we made sure to provide them with goal setting and tracking functionality.

While promoting our app, we hit a crisis of confidence dilemma…

  • Really, just who cares?
  • What were we doing?
  • Making more compliant workers for the digital age?

We questioned our original design intent, and found it lacking… until Eric Garner died on July 17th last year, and his infamous last words were “I can’t breathe…”

Informed by a broad range of visual, spatial and cultural experiences, Personal Beasties is now taking its therapeutic mobile app into the streets, in the spirit of the Interventionist Art movement.

Personal Beasties Breathing is currently working toward raising awareness of injustices and social problems, specifically, police brutality and racism.

By attending and participating in the plethora of public events and protests in New York City, where NYPD officers are guaranteed to be working, we are engaging directly with police officers… discussing the value of using ‘simple’ relaxation techniques while under stress.

Learnings from these very public interventions are documented regularly on our blog.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 2.4: CAA Conference 2016, Washington, DC on Wednesday, February 3, 2016.