Why do I love working on this project and what have I learned so far?

I have started this initiative to turn a personal obstacle in an opportunity to grow as a designer. In 2015, I was diagnosed with genital herpes and didn’t know what to do and how to manage this situation. I decided to gain as much knowledge about herpes as I could and created 69 – The Story Collection. It's a website which publishes stories told by people living with herpes who want to empower themselves in order to support others. Interviewing people living with herpes was a humble experience. Not only did I learn how to use research findings to create impact but I also learned how to live a life beyond herpes.

Side Hustle

My Responsibility
Human-Centred Design, Social Design, Field Study, Research, Art Direction, Visual Design, Prototyping, Storytelling, Project Management

Design Thinking, Personal Growth, Empathy, Engaged Listening, Critical Thinking, Independent Research, Identifying Knowledge Gaps

– Execution of independent research
– Breaking taboo issues through design
– Shortlisted on OpenIDEO for Young People's Sexual & Reproductive Health Challenge (under the top 50 ideas)

69 – The Story Collection
69 – The Story Collection Pitch
Open IDEO Challenge
Master's Dissertation
Master's Dissertation Project Proposal

– The journey from the
   challenge to the solution

I used my Master's Dissertation as a framework to start this project by using design thinking methods. I researched the creation of the herpes stigma and interviewed people worldwide to see the bigger picture. It made me more empathetic and knowledgeable about the different aspects of managing herpes.

103 pages of herpes stigma research and analysis


Once the dissertation was done I was so passionate to send this important message to the world that I took every opportunity to do so. I applied at TEDx Kingston and participated in the Open IDEO Challenge: Sexual and reproductive health for young people.


I entered my idea for the D&AD New Blood Awards 2018 to explore different directions and to receive valuable feedback on my concepts.

I documented my own story and tried different approaches to tell it. Trail and error!


While I prepared my idea for the D&AD New Blood Awards 2018 entry I also coached students at Kingston University, London. I helped them to develop their ideas and get them ready for the entry. We also talked about design process, tools, project issues, industry standards, time management, communication, pitching ideas, CV, application process their future career paths. I loved working with the students, it gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge and develop my skills further.


A special thank you goes out to my supervisor Janja, who guided me with an open mind.

© 2023 Stephi Batliner