Author: Pauline Schlautmann

The Shit Show – Exhibition Design

This is a first visualization of how the ShitShow might look in a possible location, in this case the foyer of the Studentenwerk Cafeteria in Berlin. The graphic and exhibition design is an entire project in itself, the concept below is a basic first approach for the task.

Elements of the setup would include stands with the various emotion simulators on display. On the plinths there would be little instructive diagrams on how to wear the objects and perhaps quotes from the survey responses that inspired them. The survey could be extended by creating boards with the questions. Visitors can interact and physically add their own responses. Lastly, there would be a place to display the giveaways and the logo.

The Shit Show – Start Next Campaign



The funding money for The Shit Show will be used mainly for a first exhibition in October 2016 at a public space in Berlin – a cooperation with the Studentenwerk could be a starting point. Depending on our financial means and in case the ShitShow turns out to be a success, further exhibitions at different sites and events in the future are planned.The funding money will be used for:

  • material and labour costs of producing the emotion simulators
  • graphic design of infographics, website, stickers etc
  • production cost of the giveaways
  • logistics of setting up the exhibition

Thank yous

  • different variations of our giveaways – stickers, postcards, chocolates…
  • a golden shit sculpture (possible engraved?)
  • final level: becoming the location for the first ever shit show!



Exhibition Setting – Studentenwerk Cafeteria

Visualization: How the Shit Show could look in a possible location like the lobby of the Studentenwerk Mensa

More images of the Studentenwerk facilities: The entrance hall is a place where lots of students and staff pass through. It includes a cafe/bistro, a shop, cash point and info area. Outside of the buildings there are more places where people hang out. On the wide path in front of the entrance there are often little promotional stalls.




The Shit Show – Concept

The Shit Show is a new approach to a mental health awareness campaign for young people. It is designed to make the sensitive, ‘taboo’ issue of mental health more present and approachable to the public. Psychological struggles are still stigmatized, making it hard to reach out for help. We want to offer an alternative way for people to engage with the topic.

Visualization IMG-20160723-WA0012Veil1

The Shit Show itself is similar to an information booth, except it’s not. It’s more of an interactive pop-up exhibition. Just like standard info stalls, it can be set up at events like conferences, university open days or welcome fairs. The difference is that it isn’t intimidating or embarrassing to approach like a stand for mental health issues might be. It’s design is meant to be more light-hearted, humorous, appealing to a younger generation.

IMG_2022 IMG_2027 IMG_2032

The central element of the exhibition are emotion simulators. Passerbys are encouraged to try on the strangely beautiful contraptions and perhaps even to take pictures with them on. The goal of these objects is to give the wearer a sense of how emotional pain can feel physically. This is meant to create empathy towards those suffering from mental health issues. This can enable people to offer better support when someone reaches out to them. Furthermore, it may make people understand that it does not have to feel this way, that bad emotions do exist, but that they do not have to be as debilitating as these objects.


A possible addition could be interactive infographics, perhaps even created by the visitors. For example, the survey that the simulators are based on could be extended. Existing answers would be exhibited and people would be encouraged to add their own: write down how it felt to wear the simulators, or what their own simulator would look like, or put stickers on a shitty mood scale. These boards are intended to make it visible that bad feelings are something we all experience in some way and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

IMG-20160723-WA0019 Sticker

As an incentive cool little giveaways will be there. These will include shit-shaped chocolates, shit pile stickers, ( maybe piece of shit badges) and empathic postcards. These items could also be distributed as part of the welcome kits that are often given out at the beginning of the new semester or sold as “moody merch” in the university shop. These little gifts are not just meant to draw people to the stall, but also to spread the word.


The last part of the Shit Show is an online community, either a website or a facebook page. On the giveaways, there will be a link to the page. This way, people have easy access to a first stop when they are in need of help without the awkwardness of taking a regular brochure. Online, people they should find a concise collection of info material, contacts to institutions like the studentenwerk guidance center and links to interesting projects, articles or funny relatable pictures.

The Shit Show – Goals

During our research we found that talking about our feelings and problems is the first and most crucial step in recovering and building resilience. But on an individual level, people cannot be forced to take this step. Not sharing is a justified choice, as it makes us vulnerable and people often don’t know how to react and help. The primary reason for this is a societal attitude of silence. Bad feelings are associated with shame and there is a general lack of information as part of common knowledge. Based on these insights, we decided to approach this project as a public awareness campaign and to generate conversation on the topic of mental health. The topic needs to be made more present and approachable. It should act as the first step in a chain of changes to the way we think and act about mental health issues.

“We want to challenge the current attitude towards psychological care. Our project tries to de-stigmatize psychological pain and make the sensitive, ‘taboo’ issue of mental health more present and approachable to the public. We believe that understanding and empathy is vital to provide good care for people that are suffering from emotional distress. We want to make it clear that feeling shitty is nothing to be ashamed of, but actually a very common thing. Also, we want the impact of these feelings to be understandable, so that more people can offer informed, helpful responses. When this happens, the threshold of reaching out is lowered, which in return allows problems to be addressed before they develop into serious mental conditions and to build general resilience.”

– excerpt from our fellowship article  on edgeryders / opencare

(read the whole thing here:


Survey – How does it feel?

How does it feel to feel shitty?

As we found in our interviews, it is very difficult for people to talk about their feelings, especially bad ones. So to gain more insight, we designed a short online survey that would allow people to share their thoughts with us anonymously. The goal was to get people reflecting on their emotional condition and collect descriptions that could help us make it understandable.

We asked two questions:

  1. When was the last time you felt really really shitty?

2. How would you describe how it felt physically?

Survey Questions Screencap













The responses to the first question were reassuring. Most people admitted to feeling shitty within the last week. Proof: Bad feelings exist, people have them alot. We intentionally left it open to interpretation how bad “really really shitty” could be, because it depends on the person, but we gave some directions to make clear that we mean shitty in an emotional way.

Survey Results Question 1

Common Themes

In the answers to the second question, there were some recurring motifs:

  • numb, blurry, brain fog,  muffled sounds
  • heavy, aching shoulders/back
  • slow, paralyzed, disoriented
  • sweaty, itchy, restless, uneasy, tense
  • pressure on chest, lump in throat, difficulty breathing
  • weak, fragile, small

Interview Insights

Interview Partners

PEERS – essentially our users, young people between 18-30 from different backgrounds, particularly friends, university students 


  • When was the last time you felt really shitty? What caused it?
  • What helps you when you feel shitty?
  • Who do you go to for help? Why/Why not?
  • How do you decide when it is time to get help?
  • What fears do you have of getting help?
  • When do you feel vulnerable?
  • How do you take care of yourself?
  • How do you feel right now talking about these things?
  • What’s your definition of a mental health issue?
  • What do you know about therapy or medication for mental illness?

Main Insights

  • Found it difficult to be interviewed about their feelings, particularly with strange people around
  • Easier for them to share with people who they know had similar experiences
  • Academic struggles seen as personal weakness
  • Social media as an additional stressor, taking time offline helps
  • Physical distractions to avoid / help facing emotional issues


Interview Partners Psychologists Interview Partners Guidance Councellor

PROFESSIONALS – experts in the field of mental illness and treatment, psychologists / psychotherapists, a guidance councellor and a helpline


  • How do people reach you?
  • What kind of problems are most common? Most pressing? Most difficult to talk about?
  • What keeps people from sharing their feelings?
  • How can people be made more comfortable and inclined to open up?
  • What kind of help is available?
  • What is most helpful/important in recovery/resilience?
  • What differences are there in the way people deal with their issues?

Main Insights

  • Many people don’t reach out until they have been in pain for a long time
  • Not sharing as a justified defense mechanism
  • Friends and Family may not be equipped to offers support
  • Misconceptions and lack of general knowledge about conditions and treatment options
  • Trusted personal relationships and open conversation as a key step in recovery
  • People cannot be forced to seek help, may not be ready to face their problems
  • Many issues stem from self-image / self-concept problems