Can design really make us feel better? Introducing the Wallpaper* world of Wellness + Wonder
It’s now over nine years since we first introduced an unsuspecting audience to what is now a must-see fixture at Salone del Mobile, known as the annual Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition. Even we were a little shocked and awed by what we pulled off with that inaugural exhibition: a showcase of unique collaborations that mixed and matched designers, makers and manufacturers from around the world.
This year, we tasked designers and makers with thinking about the rest, repair and elevation of mind and body. It was an idea we tagged ‘Wellness + Wonder’. This was no woolly bandwagon-boarding. There was serious intent behind that idea, important questions asked: What can and should we mean now by ‘functionality’? How much can we really expect design and designers to do? Can design bolster and be calm? In the age of digital overload, squeezed sleep, sometimes crushing personal and professional expectations, can design really make us feel better?
On sale today is the August issue of Wallpaper* which embraces this whole new world of Wellness + Wonder that was explored in this year’s exhibition. To give you a taster of our design sanctuary, take moment of calm with Based Upon’s meditative digital installation, an exclusive artwork encapsulating one of our Handmade projects.
The Wallpaper* Handmade August issue newsstand cover, that features III by Based Upon. Photography: Michael Bodiam
Created by London-based design collective Based Upon whose ongoing investigations into stillness and sanctuary are the perfect addition to our wellness-inspired compendium for Wallpaper* Handmade. III is part of a series of ‘bio-responsive’, or what you might call immersive, solace-giving sculptures created to engender a meditative state in the viewer, whether amateur or seasoned practitioner.
A five-foot circle holds an ancient rocky landscape, ambient sound and lighting transcend its topology forming a familiar celestial symbol, evoking a state of calm, and inviting the viewer to rest and reach a contemplative state. Based Upon’s starting point for the piece is a journey, a literal expedition to go ‘into the landscape and taking our place within it… allowing ourselves to become small, a detail in the universal pattern’.
The studio’s body of work on stillness began with a geological field trip to Innis Oirr, a remote island in Ireland mostly composed of 350-million-year-old limestone with crisscrossing cracks or ‘grikes’ and flattened pavement-like isolated rocky formations. Based Upon documented stories about the landscape. Data generated from research in the form of field notes, photographs, 3D land scans, moulds and casts of rock formations, is the raw source material for the work. The design collective’s journey into nature and their search for the spaces free from the everyday bombardment of life – is at the root of this series, designed as an enhancer of well-being.
‘These works are oddly ancient because they are based on data that we gathered while documenting primitive landscapes,’ says Ian Abell, co-founder of Based Upon, ‘but because they are integrate clever tech, there is also an element of the digital.’
As a continuation of the series, Based Upon are looking to place artwork within therapeutic environments such hospitals, refuges and rehabilitation centres to satisfy a need for accessible sanctuary. The filmic edition of this work offers meditation creating a temporary sanctuary here in the form of a digital residency until 9 August.
Details of Innis Oirr, a remote island in Ireland mostly composed of 350-million-year-old limestone. Photography: Based Upon
Whether for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, Wallpaper* invites you to pause and take a break from daily distractions to favour a more cosmic journey. Take a deep breath, or two (or three) and take a gentle leap into a state of grounded stillness. From the outer landscape of Based Upon’s artwork III, you can take celestial flight into your very own inner landscape. Embrace the cosmic calm and join us in this meditation, a digital mandala.