November 18, 2023Comments are off for this post.

Just Another Human-Centered Astronaut

Gioia Arieti speaks on wide-time and the reasons why extending our lives is wrong.

Gioia is no ordinary designer, she is on a path to revolutionize the way we live and work by widening, not extending, time.

She holds the title as Human-Centered Designer, which makes you instantly raise your eyebrows, but wait… she became an analogue astronaut and her principle on wide-time gained coverage in an American innovation magazine, TEDx, a Space conference in France. Moreover, she clinched an art prize from a European Space community that speaks volumes about her exceptional contributions to the field.

Ok, we have so much to unpack here: have you heard of “wide-time”? According to Gioia, Wide-time stands for time that is measured in width, rather than length. A time unit that measures the intensity with which one perceives time. For example, have you ever felt like more can happen in a week of holiday than a whole month of work? I am sure you know what I mean. 

So I am more than honored to portray her and ask a few questions to understand how everything started:

The title of Human-Centered Designer has been existing for a long time and it represents an approach to product and process development that prioritizes understanding human behavior and needs, in contrast to the more conventional method of building a product first and then identifying a market need. I personally came across the concept of human-centered design when a friend suggested me to read the book “Change by Design” by Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, a company that was an early leader in design thinking.

Becoming an analog astronaut is an intense experience. Analog astronauts are civilians that join for long periods of time a research lab that simulates conditions of Space habitats and scenarios of Space travel to help researchers and space agencies understand how humans will cope with the challenges of Space missions. It's a way to anticipate, troubleshoot and fine-tune things before actually sending folks into the great beyond. Practically, that means, that after days of training for self-sufficiency and emergency situations, you are then plunged into a totally isolated and restricted environment with 4 strangers, your crew members, with which you will share most of your time. No natural light, same repetitive meals and strict routine with one mission: carry out experiments and testing some products that will be sent to the ISS.

But beyond the experience´s sheer craziness, it's an eye-opener to understand how much scenario planning work is needed for human psychology in Space, not only for the technical challenges. What struck me the most was the warped sense of time in this sensory-deprived realm.

About three years ago, during the first Covid summer, I couldn’t escape on a holiday but I still needed a break from my everyday job. So, I ditch the holiday idea and I took a break by enrolling in a Space camp. No physical travel, just a mental escape. I remember listening to astronaut Andreas Morgensen, space architects, and analog astronauts explaining how the perception of time changes in Space. Forget dates, a toilet breaking becomes a more relevant time unit to refer to events, such as something happening “before the toilet broke” or “after the toilet broke”, rather than saying “it happened on day 215 of the mission”. I had always had a similar feeling. Why is it easier to remember days when you associate them to an experience? Why do we need to travel to feel like more can happen in one day? Why does a weekend in Spain feel like it lasted a whole week and why can't I get that feeling in the place I live, in my ordinary life? These Space superhumans gave me perspective on how such a human feeling on Earth, is still relevant in space, and it hit me- Maybe we should ditch the calendar dates and base time on memorable events, and that's how I started the thought experiment of wondering “what if we create a calendar based on how we perceive time?”

Growing up in Italy exposed me to a wealth of Latin philosophy, and I was struck by how relevant the writings of philosophers like Seneca remain today. Seneca's famously wrote "the life we receive is not short, but we make it so". While routines can flatten our perception of time, it's impractical to constantly seek extreme novelty, you can’t always go bungee-jumping off a cliff and it's important to also acknowledge the power of routines for personal development. So to widen time is important to strive for a variety of experiences: exploring more, taking risks, sometimes doing something foolish, this way you shift your perception of time from linear, to wide, intense, and after 30 years, you will have so many stories to tell, you will feel like you have experienced 60.

Therefore you can simply start to bring wide time in your life by becoming aware that distorting the perception of time is in your power, and secondly, by introducing “seasons” of change in your life, embracing small yet impactful shifts, like celebrating New Year on September first, or taking different routes when cycling to work, or doing something new for a few weeks.

I had expected that the wildest experience would have happened when checking off something from my bucket list during March, when I try to do something new everyday. But truly, I was blindsided by the mental energy required to think of something new everyday, and the bias towards things I merely wanted to do instead of actually pushing my boundaries. Only after I started asking friends for suggestions, or started trying new things that required more than a day of prep, I ended up chasing experiences that actually blasted me outside my comfort zone.

You can check out my TED talk to get a deeper understanding of the thought experiment behind creating a calendar designed to distort our perception of time, or, you can visit the website directly to explore the calendar

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July 31, 2022Comments are off for this post.

The Gift Unboxing

Framing Identities 2021 - entry call
Copenhagen Photo festival

More and more international students look to study abroad. Denmark is one of the top five
countries in Europe to offer English-taught university programs and where the government
subsidised the students to study and retain them to contribute back to Danish society while
working. In recent years, according to the Ministry of Higher Education, only one in five
(21%) of the English-speaking students find work in Denmark after completing their

As an undergrad myself and working in Denmark for ten years I can tell why students leave
this country just after their graduation. I had hard times here but somehow managed to get through so many obstacles and barriers like language for example, the cold, dark winters and last but not least bonding with Danes. I would bet that finding a job and fitting in a Danish working environment is the hardest part after completing the studies, that is why many leave as soon as their unemployment insurance runs out. But for those who decide to stay longer, what does it mean to live in the happiest nation in the world?

I had the opportunity to interview 8 students and workers living in town who shared similar experiences and stories. We also talked about identity and embracing another culture and how they deal with confrontation with this Nordic society. Because of time constraints I decided to go forward with one of them I met this summer here in Copenhagen. Her name is Gift... yes, like a gift, or if one prefers Isabella, her second name. She is a student at Roskilde University, currently studying International Bachelor's in Global Humanities, majoring in Communication and International Studies, while working as barista for a small coffee chain called Impact Roasters.

Gift is from Nairobi, Kenya, she moved to Copenhagen in 2017. After living for 20 years in her city, she felt the necessity to expand her horizons abroad and finally got approval to study in Denmark. I can tell she is the most extroverted person I met, a blast of energy, enthusiasm, passion and attitude. Yet, after four years living in Denmark she went through some deep personality changes; from being 100% extrovert to an “introverted extrovert” as she likes to define herself.

Growing up in Nairobi life was more spontaneous in every aspect; She would leave the doorstep with or without planned destination, the days were assured of new social interactions full of laughter and sometimes tears with strangers; loud streets full of life, people shouting at each other from opposite corners of the streets, the hot Nairobi sun, the music filled buses and matatus, people enjoying simple things like smiling at a random stranger or dancing in the streets; neighbourhood kids running around the blocks, young adults hanging out at each others house randomly since they have no jobs or school lesson to attend to. In those days she felt like the community still looked out for her.

She defines happiness as more of a social aspect and kindness, where a stranger becomes a friend through “hello”. Despite speaking an excellent Danish language and attending one of the most “hippie” universities in Denmark, -as she defines it-, she finds it hard to make new friends. Here she came to learn that Danes take a considerable time before they call you a friend. She says: “It doesn’t matter how long one has known a Dane or how well one thinks one knows them or how much one likes each other’s company; you are not friends until both parties agree that they are friends. Only then one does introduce a Dane as a friend. Otherwise, they just refer to them as ‘people I know’”.

There is no such thing as typical seasons in Kenya: it is either a long or short rainy season. Whereas in Denmark there is constant change between rain, snow, sun, (that never seems hot enough according to her) and cold winds. The change happens every few months but she has learnt not to be shocked when she experiences all the seasons in an hour or while moving from one location to the next around Denmark.

Time moves fast as the weather here. Four years have gone; as she puts it: here I am more aware of ‘time running out’, yet somehow looking at most of my Danish peers, they live their life with no worry of tomorrow. Differences in our upbringings and beliefs is instilled in us, plus the welfare system in Denmark does the rest. Whilst I experience all the benefits of having residency in Denmark, I can’t help but miss home a little.

Life in Denmark has changed her a lot and shifted her future perspectives too. As a full time student with only 80 hours of work per month to pay back her studies, life is not that easy. Even though she wanted to pursue international studies and communication since she was nine, studying right now is not as enjoyable as it seems; in this moment of life she has changed her plans of pursuing the Master studies right after the Bachelor and instead thinking of taking some time off to follow her passions like singing, dancing, modelling and writing poems for the poetry club. “I would love to see where that leads. This is the part of life's journey I call it the ‘Gift Unboxing’”.

Copyrights ©Gianni Pisanu


About the author

GiPP Design is a creative digital studio with a big passion for photography, videography and design. Based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Are you an entrepreneur or you need to communicate your next project? Get in touch for a professional free photoshoot: Write me at and let's have a chat. 



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