If you happen to visit 40°47'21.8"N by 73°57'33.5"W, you’ll find yourself standing in the center of a precisely proportional tree triangulation. It is one of a collection of locations, similar in purpose, that I have made note of on various adventures.
The unique aspect of the small grove located at 40°47'21.8"N by 73°57'33.5"W is that the trees and their surrounding vista make up one of the most perfect hammock spots in all of Central Park, New York. It took almost an entire summer of trial-and-error to find... not that you’re allowed to hammock in Central Park. This project is a gift I made for the trees, and I hope you enjoy it too.
For the past few years, hammock purchases have seen a trending upswing, doubling in sales each year. A large motivator behind this trend belongs to the emerging demographic of new hammock buyers: younger, not camping types, who take a more versatile approach with their hammocks — as a replacement for anything between social bean bags and private tents.
As the topic for a design study, hammocking provides a backdrop rich in emotion and behavior. Hammocks evoke a relaxing nostalgia, with near-universal recognition and symbolism. They are accessible to a majority of people, and are easy to take part in.
Hammocking also has overlap with environmentally-conscious philosophies and actions. One goal of this exercise is to find a way to leverage hammocking, and its relationship to trees, as a path to increase awareness and support of local parks and forests. With the effects of ecological disruption impending, any small steps towards increasing a person’s investment in nature is progress for the health of the planet.
Create a shared network of trees, based on hammocking, that collects environmental data. Can be shared with ecological agencies to monitor the health and safety of trees at regional and hyper-local levels.
Match the act of hanging a hammock with the ease of relaxing in a hammock, close the gap between the experience and the expectation. Focus on the direct relationship between hammocking and trees to encouraging more environmental awareness.
The ability to scan and define target spots with augmented reality creates an opportunity to solve for some real hammock-hanging problems like distance, tension, and hang angle. At the time of writing, there's not yet an interactive utility available that can calculate for multiple trees and spatial geometry in an outdoors natural environment.
Because hammocks can be hung anywhere between two sturdy points, the focus of this project is specific to hanging hammocks on trees, using straps or thick rope, within a park or forest setting.
The client for this project would be a small online retail company that sells hammocks and accessories like straps and underquilts. They have doubled their sales over the past two years and want to invest in a supporting experience for their new and existing customers. A solution should complement their company goals of ecological preservation.
In 2016, hammock sales reached $53 million, doubling from the year prior, after doubling from the year before that. Sales of hammocks and accessories are expected to continue that growth into a $650 million market in 2021 [note]https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171020005439/en/Top-3-Drivers-Hammocks-Market-Technavio [/note].
Sales alone don't tell the full story of a product's impact – how much does an increase in sales translate to an increase in usage. This is one handoff between design and business where the business wants to sell you a hammock, and design wants to make sure that purchase continues to meet your needs.
There is an educational aspect to hammocking with a heavier upfront cost than most potential users expect, as is noticable in the quantity and range of hammock hanging guides and videos produced, and the frustrated comments they invite.
Skills and knowledge for hammocking include learning how to handle materials and hardware, learning how to hang a hammock, and assessing where to hang a hammock [note]https://blogs.wf.com/assetmanagement/2016/08/why-hammock-sales-jumped-30/[/note].
"But hammock sales were no leisurely endeavor for the mail-order and e-commerce giants ...the hammock market had barriers to entry, which made it difficult in the past for customers to use the products. Apparently, folks thought they needed to be the outdoors type to set up hammocks..."
New hammockers may not have much in common with classic outdoors camping demographics. Searching for examples of organic groupings around shared hobbies reveal an increase in social activity that parallels the increase in purchases.
Emergent responses showing increased hammock use:
Eris Stassi is an experience designer crafting resilient and kind human interactions. She provides insightful flows & product strategy for startups and creative teams. Previous head of product for a food startup, UX director at Morgan Stanley, and interaction designer at Apple.
Available for medium and long-term projects with a focus on civic, climate and authentic engagement. Please contact me for resume and case studies.