Aisha Iskanderani’s experience as a mum was the motivation behind her PhD at the School of Design Innovation.
PhD candidate Aisha’s life changed when she became a mum. While observing her daughter playing with toys, she became interested in their design and how accumulating toys can affect our lives.
Aisha was disappointed in the options available to her daughter, prompting the focus of her thesis. Her research explores ways to support parents to teach their young children simple anger regulation skills through playing with toys.
“My personal experiences and interests as a designer became more focused on children’s interactions and the objects they play with every day.”
“As a mum, industrial and a human-centred designer, I explore toy design from an emotional perspective.”
Emotion dysregulation is linked to many psychological problems in adults, such as depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Aisha adopted the Research through Design (RTD) methodology to explore designs for playful and engaging toys that support children to identify and regulate anger, and ultimately enhance their emotional competence and wellbeing.
The four methods of her research included cultural probes provided to parents and their children, interviews with parents and experts, design workshops, and usability testing for toy prototypes. She is currently in the process of refining her final prototype.
Aisha completed her undergraduate studies at home in Saudi Arabia before moving to New York to complete her Master’s at Rochester Institute of Technology. When considering universities to undertake her PhD, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University caught her attention.
“My first impressions and communications before, during and after my acceptance were smooth and straightforward.”
She credits the University for supporting and assisting all students through the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is grateful for the respect and support of her supervisor, Edgar Rodríguez Ramírez.
“He has made the growing process through my PhD journey more enjoyable and calm because of his guidance and support.”
Upon completion of her PhD, Aisha plans to continue her academic career in Saudi Arabia where she hopes to utilise her experience and skills to support future Saudi women designers and researchers.
Wellington will always have a dedicated space in her heart.
“It is a small, convenient and multi-cultural city. Wellingtonians are kind, easy-going and welcoming for all communities.”
Her advice to other students considering a PhD is to be prepared for both highs and lows.
“It is a long and emotional journey, yet worth every part of it.”