Meraki (a Greek word meaning “putting love, soul and creativity into everything you do”) emerged out of social research and development done inside three charities providing services to persons with cognitive disabilities and their families. The research discovered that people were stuck in routines (both people with cognitive disabilities and their support workers), that both persons served and staff tended to feel more comfortable in those routines and were reluctant to switch things up. Staff didn’t feel they had the time to come up with new things to do, or the permission to try them.
But meaning and growth comes from an ongoing flow of new experiential content and reflecting on it. It is about meeting new and diverse people and trying out new behaviours, roles and ideas. This isn’t only the case for persons with cognitive disabilities, but also their staff.
Meraki is a prototype that tries to solve this–not through simply more activities–but through novel and delightful experiences that are intentionally designed to nudge people towards more social courage, creativity, human connectivity, reflection and joy. It is essentially a subscription service that provides boxed experiences curated by hobbyists, enthusiasts, artists, entrepreneurs and businesses with niche offerings. Not only does the box supply what is needed to have the experience, but it supplies all the invitations and permissions to get creative and adventurous.
By sourcing content from community, it also gives entrepreneurs and businesses an opportunity to collaborate with a designer to make a fresh new product and promotional material to market their business or idea.
The design principles or specifications of Meraki consists of it positively disrupting routines, prompting human connectivity, progressively challenging people to step outside of their comfort zones, optimizing choice and agency, sparking joy, and being accessible to everyone.