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Talent Spotlight: How Kartikaye Mittal is Using Design to Help People with PTSD & Anxiety Disorders


Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal is a New York City-based Industrial Designer. This means that he is responsible for designing products that can be mass produced and used by a large number of people. The Pratt alumnus had been involved in a few notable projects, like collaborating with other emerging professionals on co-designing the lovely Calla Lamp in 2018. But, his current endeavor Reboot has the most life changing potential out of anything he’s attempted thus far.

Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal
Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal

People who are affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) tend to experience a range of symptoms, including severe anxiety; panic attacks; disturbing dreams; and reliving their trauma over and over. Although PTSD triggers are subjective and vary from person to person, sensory input from the environment — like sudden noises or groups of loud people — elevates the likelihood of an incident. Promising sensory depravation therapies got Mittal thinking about design, but first he needed to do his research.

Research for Project Reboot by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal
Research for Project Reboot by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal

Turns out, floating has been shown to be an effective treatment for temporarily relieving PTSD symptoms, but submerging people in water whenever they experience symptoms is hardly a manageable strategy. What if there was a way to easily eliminate all auditory input from their environment? And what if their immediate environment was also significantly simplified? Would that be enough for individuals to mentally and emotionally reboot?

Visual Inspiration for Project Reboot by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal
Visual Inspiration for Project Reboot by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal

Researching the ideas of refuge and sanctuary, Mittal realized that there was a structural pattern between the places we designate as “safe spaces.” At this time, he has a working prototype of his design. The collapsible structure is made out of sound cancelling materials, such as flexible polyurethane foam and plenty of felt. It also features a space for a canopy made out of clear polycarbonate panels to let in the sun. Gray and intentionally unprovoking, it’s a structure that can be conveniently hidden in a public or private place until there’s a use for it.

Project Reboot by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal
Project Reboot by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal

According to the press release: “The study and accompanying prototype together represent phase 1 of the on-going research practice. Phase 2 is scheduled to commence at the end of the year 2020 under a funded residency of the STEAMplant initiative by the Math & Science department at Pratt Institute.” Let’s hope it works. A personal safe space designed to give people a moment of peace in a hectic world would, indeed, be a life changing asset.

Note* All images for the sponsored post were provided by Kartikaye (Kay) Mittal.

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Feature Stories

VOL. 22 


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