University of Brighton graduate Chloe Meineck was exhibiting her Music Memory Box at Tent London as part of the London Design Festival. She spent two years conducting research into the positive effect familiar music can have for those with dementia – listening to music from certain periods of their lives can help trigger even their most inaccessible memories. She was driven to act on her findings and so created this gorgeous music box.
It’s immediately tactile and reminds me of boxes full of little treasures I had as a child. Each object represents a happy memory and plays a certain piece of music when placed in the center of the box. Chloe developed this box especially for a lady called Barbara. They worked together to find or make objects that reminded Barbara of specific people or places.
For example the little square of tweed reminds her of her grandfather’s itchy tweed trousers and sitting on his lap as a little girl, while they podded peas together in the garden. Chloe has even infused the tweed with the smell of sweet peas to help intensify the memory.
They either used objects that Barbara already owned, or they discussed and drew the object together so that Chloe could go away and make a model. Barbara would then give her feedback on the model and she would make any changes necessary to get it just right. They went through the same process to find pieces of music to match each object and each memory.
Using multiple senses; touch, sound, sight and scent to evoke memories helps to revive the person’s lost identity and reconnects them with the family and friends they have lost through dementia.
The boxes use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, the same technology used in oyster cards on London’s tube network, and open source programming using Arduino.
Chloe says: “I hope I can carry on making bespoke music memory boxes and also broaden the process out and run workshops with large groups of people in homes, making communal music memory boxes. I am interested in co-designing with the older population; using technology, and finding out where interventions can be designed and to help them.”