KAMI is an Automated Purification Ceremony designed to start first time meditators down a new Journey of Mental Wellbeing.
By 2030 depression may account for the largest global ‘disease burden’, ahead of common illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease . Many designs focus of producing objects to increase our efficiency, convenience and physical comfort, yet studies have shown the Western subjective well-being levels are roughly the same as the were in the 1950s, despite all our advances in these areas .
KAMI is an object designed with a different purpose, an artifact to inspire the beginning of a journey towards mental health through Mindfulness Meditation. The user sits beneath KAMI, which then automatically closes around them, an audio track then guides the user through 10 minutes of guided meditation. When the user is ready to leave they stand, and KAMI will rise. The user then re-enters the external space, perhaps with a tiny fragment of clarity to see the world anew. It is the designers hope that this experience may act as a catalyst to the user to investigate and start their own mental heath training practise.
KAMI was designed and built by Freyja Sewell during a residency at Hackerfarm in Kamogawa, Japan, concluding two years living and researching in Japan as a Daiwa Scholar. During her two years Freyja investigated different types of mind training, including Tea Ceremony, Shinto Purification and Zen Meditation. She observed that all the different approaches used tools, processes and objects to create a clear separation from the distracting outer world and inner landscape of sensations. KAMI is a physical representation of this separation, by blocking external distraction to create visual silence Freyja hopes to make it easier for first time meditators to, perhaps for the first time, focus on their inner state.
KAMI is the Japanese word for spirit in Shinto, the native religion of Japan, it also means paper, which is used in Shinto purification ceremonies. The surface of KAMI is made from over 600 modular paper pieces supplied by Japanese paper specialists Fukunaga Print Co.Ltd. Japanese Abundance Textures inspired the material design, Japanese Abundance Textures are created by hundreds, or even thousands, of small separate components, each item is slightly different and so individual, but combine to create a unified, harmonious whole. Examples of Abundance Textures are seen in cherry blossoms, paper tags at temples or tiny pebbles in a sand garden.
The designer acknowledges that meditation can be undertaken anywhere with out the need for any objects at all. However it is her hope that we may start to use technology and design to train our minds and mental well being in the same way we use sports gear and software to improve our physical health.
'The more I work and see in the design technology field the more worried I become about whether we are actually creating real human happiness, it’s such a vague, subjective term that it’s understandably difficult to discuss, but I believe we desperately need to start re-considering what it means. Making things faster, more connected and efficient is exciting and essential for economic growth, but research shows that it is not enough on its own to make people genuinely happier. I am also increasingly convinced that human happiness is intrinsically linked to our planets health and that meditation may be a path to realizing this'.
'I want to express my sincere gratitute to the amazing community of Hackerfarm and Kamogawa, I am so grateful for my time with you'