Beermats against Stress


How might we make men acknowledge and talk about potential stress through designing beer mats to be used in pubs?

School project at National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

Beermats and website.

Navigating and choosing a path in the design field, through a project of own choosing.

We men have a problem. 

We do not like to talk about our feelings. When we do not share our feelings we do not discover health related problems early. In fact, men has a much higher suicide rate than women, because we keep every concern and worry inside us, until it all becomes too much. (source)

I suffered from mild stress through 4 months without realising it, until I started putting my feelings into words. It occurred to me that my physical and mental status was not in a normal state. 

Through this I decided to channel my experiences into this school project, in an attempt to do more research into how I can help other men realise if they suffer from stress.

I began to think, where does men go and talk? Since my location at this point was Dublin, it was quite obvious to me that my target was the pub. A pub in Ireland is much more than a place to have a cold Guinness, it is also a place to meet people. It is an ingrained aspect of the Irish culture.

The Beermat Prototypes

Through research in 3 pubs in Dublin (which of course involved enjoying several pints of Guinness), I defined 6 different kinds of characteristic men drinking beer. From this I designed this series of interaction inviting beermats. The aesthetics were derived from the current Guinness brand, since it was an imagined collaboration with Guinness.

The Collector
4 comic drawings about a stressed man talking to a calm sloth, for the person who likes to collect.

The Ripper 
For the person who rips the beermats apart, there is a soft piece of cloth hidden inside. Soft cloth is nice against stress.

For the drunk guy out with friends, this analog snapchat filter is something that can add a bit of extra fun. Simply hold the see through beermat in front of your camera and snap a picture. Voila! You now have the power to give all your mates a moustache.

The Smartphone Bros
For the smartphone users on the pub, I made this beermat with a detachable piece of plastic, which combined with a 4-way reflected animation creates the illusion of a hologram.

The hologram in action. 

The animation to be played on your smartphone.

The Paperless Writer
For the man sitting in the pub, possibly all alone, in his own thoughts. Suddenly one of the thoughts is worth preserving, so he uses a beermat or a napkin to scribble it down. This beermat uses that interaction and gives a partially full sentence to invoke thoughts about the hard parts of the pub-goers day.


The Bar Sitter
For the man sitting in the bar, doing nothing besides enjoying his beer, comes this much beloved analog activity: crosswords. This time it is with stress related questions and answers, to help the solver reflect on what stress really is.

The Website

In conjunction with the beermats, I also created a simple website with more information about stress. So the user journey would be that a man notices the coaster because it is different -> he interacts with it because it causes him to reflect -> goes to the website and learn about the symptoms of stress -> hopefully he acknowledges his condition and goes to see his doctor


I could not sit in a vacuum and design the beermats from my own beliefs, so off to the pub I went. I asked all the nice guys I could find, including a very committed bartender.


Through the testing I found that some of the beermats were more succesful in the communication than others. Particularly the comics were very fruitful, whereas the hologram beermat was not easy enough to understand.

Overall I received tremendously great feedback from the people I showed the beermats through, and they all agreed that this problem is something that needs to be tackled, and said my solution was an original and highly compelling attempt of doing so.