In the HCI/d program we are often told to just do, with the idea that we will then be told what we did wrong so we can do it better next time. In that spirit, I’m throwing this out there so anyone who wants to can offer your own views!

One of my favorite designers is Sputniko! (Hiromi Ozaki), a Japanese-British designer whose works tend toward critical design (in my interpretation, anyway). One of her famous designs is the “Menstruation Machine”, a device that allows the wearer to “bleed” and experience cramping. It’s intended to simulate the experience for people who, for whatever reason (including “being male”) do not menstruate.


  • A device that wraps around your waist
  • Causes cramping
  • Dispenses fake blood
  • Works passively (i.e., once you put it on, it does its job)


  • Intimate object?


  • Made in 2010, when drugs to control menstruation were available, but “not yet widely used”
  • In Japan, it took only 6 months to approve Viagra, but 9 years to approve the contraceptive pill (in Ozaki’s own words, “It is quite clear that the advancement of technology can be heavily influenced by political, social and cultural backgrounds of the time.”)
  • Ozaki herself is both Japanese and British


  • Women often experience cramps while menstruating (okay, I probably didn’t need to elucidate that, but just in case anyone didn’t know…)


  • Critical design
  • Feminist design
  • Addresses a curiosity of how it feels to menstruate (in the case of trans-women, perhaps it is closer to a need)
  • Could promote empathy with women in menstrual pain


  • (OK, this is where I had the most trouble…)