As part of the first-year Affirming Artifacts class, students were asked to redesign the first piece of trash they threw out. In seven weeks, I took a sandwich wrapper on a journey through products, services and platforms and designed the Nutshell, a pod for productive break-taking. Inspired by the sandwich wrapper, the idea began from recognizing that busy students and professionals forget to take proper lunch breaks. From there, I prototyped a “lunch sack” that acted as an isolation pod for people to eat lunch in.

The next iteration of the sack simplified the pod and the design became collapsible. Branded as the Nutshell Go, I imagined people to find moments for solitude in office spaces, libraries, school or at home with the product. Based on research in the psychology of solitude, I found that the act of taking short breaks of solitude can increase mental stability.

After creating products we had to choose a speculative corporate partnership that framed the object’s use and marketability. I pretended to join forces with The Container Store and created potential ads to market the Nutshell. In the service phase of the exercise, I imagined a service with Google where employees called Google Counselors would stand on the street and provide private counseling sessions under the Nutshell.

However, straying away from a Google service, I went back to looking at how the Nutshell could be its own company and furthermore, a community platform. I created a mock company called Nutshell LABS that would be the manufacturer of the Nutshells. I also created new products called Nutshell Blackout and Headshell to show the company's future line of products. Nutshell LABS could also provide workshops on solitude to teach meditation or tips for productive break -taking and life management to companies.

Finally, using the Nutshell to design a community platform led me to an app-based community of Nutshell users or “Nutshellers.” The app would be used while inside a Nutshell and can provide listeners with custom guided meditations, podcasts and music. Users can also create their own recordings while in the Nutshell and post their stories into a community forum of story sound clips. With advice from classmate Souvik Paul, the business of Nutshell introduces the notion of “social solitude” — where spending time with oneself isn't considered a lonely act, but a supported one.