2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. The lock-down, the fear of the unknown, and not being able to see or hug our family and friends has caused increased levels of stress and anxiety.
During these times, it has been important to find ways to relax and forget for a moment about everything that is happening around us. Meditation and mindfulness apps have become much more popular than ever before. According to The Washington Post, the week of March 29, 750 000 people downloaded mindfulness apps and users spent 85% more time using those apps than usual. Some of these apps have a feature for deep breathing, that usually shows a shape that expands and contracts to indicate the pace of breathing.
With this idea in mind, for this project, we wanted to develop a physical object that could provide this function by expanding and contracting at a pace that the users could follow as they inhale and exhale, helping to practice deep breathing and reducing the levels of stress.
Besides, as museums have been closed, drastically reducing the access to art during this year, we wanted to design an object that would allow people to experience art at home. Our design aims to mimic the atmosphere of a museum’s art installation at the scale of a home, creating an environment that is immersive and inspiring.
This is how we came together to the idea of the Breathing Planet. It is an actuated expandable object that uses an iris structure as the underlying mechanism. It has a light source in the center and there is a variety of translucent or transparent geometries that can be assembled on top of it to generate dynamic shadow and reflection effects as the structure expands and contracts.
We envision that, once the pandemic is over, these objects could also be deployed at a larger scale, being part of an art installation by themselves.