top of page


Istanbul Service Jam Entry, 2021


Familiar is focused on exploring the opportunities of having a platform that would give people a free space to talk, share, and be able to see their own problems with the completely fresh point of a stranger.

Project Context

The theme for Istanbul Service Jam 2021 was


Before forming our teams, all the attendants participated in a brainstorming session about what the theme meant to them. The most interesting ideas were chosen and then everyone picked one to work on.

My team's theme was Negative Space.

An illustration of two people having a conversation, sitting on the opposite sides of a table.

"I believe if there's any kind of God it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt."

Before Sunrise, 1995 (dir. Richard Linklater)

My team wanted to explore negative space as the space between two people, the place where conversation happens, their common ground. We all thought back to the moments where we couldn't find the words to explain ourselves until someone else put it into words for us. We recalled the feeling of validation and comfort that experience brought to us and wanted to replicate that emotion through our design.


We utilized desk research, online video interviews, and surveys to conduct our research. Our initial aim was to provide people a safe place to talk about topics like mental health, abuse, sexual orientation, gender diversity, etc. We prepared our research topics and interview questions aiming to find out where people go when they have questions they can't ask anyone else.

An image of the desk research topics and interview questions we wrote using the app Mural.
A screenshot of the survey we took that shows two questions. One asks if the latest problem people have faced was internal or external. The other asks how did the person handle the problem.
A screenshot of an Instagram story that asks "Do you feel something is off with your life, but you can't put your finger on it?" with Yes or No as options.

What we discovered was, instead of talking to a professional or even researching online, the majority of people chose to talk to someone they know when they faced a problem or had things difficult to talk about.

User Personas

Proto-Persona 1
Proto-Persona 2
Proto-Persona 3


With our research we realized that our initial thought of a platform where people can share their experiences with strangers wasn't what our target audience needed. They preferred talking to friends and family. What they needed was a community.

Instead of trying to provide a place where people can ask their difficult questions, we decided to look for a solution that would help people meet like-minded individuals who could give them the emotional support they need regardless of their problems.

A screenshot of all the ideas we came up with during the ideation phase.

We specifically aimed to find a local solution where people could access support from their immediate environment. We also wanted the solution to be inclusive. It had to be accessible, affordable, and able to reach people of various backgrounds.


The idea for Familiar came from an article about Nambian Himbas and their ability to differentiate two different hues of green that other people can't, because they had different words for them.


There are words like saudade or schadenfreude that lack equivalents in most languages. Other languages gave names to feelings we experience but usually can’t pinpoint. Knowing how to define a feeling broadens the spectrum of emotions we can feel.

So, we decided to provide the words.

An image of three badge designs with three foreign words written on them.

Familiar is a set of badges, stickers, or even post-its where there are words from all over the world, from a vast variety of languages written on them. These can be used in local gatherings at a coffee shop, as an icebreaker in a group setting, or anywhere people might want to make new connections.

Familiar badges are designed with a color spectrum of emotions in mind. It can be hard to read the words in a crowded environment but with similar colors assigned with similar emotions, even from a distance, people can guess what the other person is feeling. Sometimes two different words tied to a similar emotion can resonate with two different people. So, even if they pick different words to express themselves they can still find the common ground.

User Journey & Storyboard

A screenshot of the user journey.
A screenshot of the storyboard


Istanbul Design Jam 2021 gave us the opportunity to create something meaningful. We found ourselves talking about our own difficult experiences even though we didn't know each other until that weekend. We laughed, talked, and designed. This project was our common ground and it was a privilege to work with my team.

A poster for the Familiar badges
A poster for the Familiar badges

The Team

A photo of Berfu Bengisu Gören

Berfu Bengisu Gören

A photo of Öykü Yıldızhan

Öykü Yıldızhan

A photo of Yasemin Başkaya

Yasemin Başkaya

bottom of page