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Studio Diaries: Headspace | First Errand | Geneva Vanderzeil

Welcome to my Studio Diaries series! Each week, I share a list of what’s been thought-provoking and inspiring in the books, videos, art, podcasts, etc., that I’ve encountered in the last few days.

Here’s what I’ve loved this week!

Seeing: Headspace Guide to Meditation on Netflix

I have been using the Headspace app to do guided meditations or listen to focus music for over three years. Although I have gone through phases of dedicated daily practices and then less focused periods, the app always helps me recenter, and one of my favorite features has always been the graphics. While I have found that most imagery around meditation or mindfulness incorporates photos of nature, Headspace takes an entirely different and creative approach to its visuals. These graphics are amplified in the Headspace Guide to Meditation series on Netflix that I began watching this week.

Because each episode contains a guided mediation at the end, it is not the type of series one binge-watches in an afternoon. Therefore, I am only a couple of episodes in, but I love the animations, teachings, and meditation sessions they offer. The visuals in the first half of each episode, where the narrator Andy explores various concepts at the heart of mindfulness, like ‘letting go,’ are adorable and provide a true visual escape into relaxation. There are other Headspace series on Netflix as well, including a Headspace Guide to Sleep. I look forward to watching them all, one day at a time. It’s the perfect way to zone out and take a break while taking care of yourself.

Headspace Guide to Meditation, photo by Jenn Pavlick

Listening: 99% Invisible - First Errand

This episode of one of my long-term favorite podcasts, 99% invisible, was excellent. “First Errand” discusses the Japanese TV series Old Enough!, a family and children’s show depicting young children in Japan and their first time going out into the world alone. This is a standard practice in Japanese culture, unlike our social norms in the US. I have never seen the TV show, but in the podcast episode, they discuss the cultural differences that allow young Japanese children to become far more independent than their American counterparts and the role the built environment plays in facilitating this behavior.

99% Invisible
99% Invisible, photo by Jenn Pavlick

In most American cities, towns, or suburbs, one would be alarmed and concerned to see a four-year-old walking alone alongside a busy road, on what is likely to be a very long hike to the grocery store. But unlike in the US, where people need to get out of the way of cars, in Japan, the driving culture is focused on pedestrians, where drivers are taught to get out of the way of people. Plus, as the episode explains, Japanese real estate zoning policies don’t break the cities into ‘residential’ versus ‘business’ districts in the way most American cities do, so most homes will be within walking distance of a grocery store, school, and more, making the trip much shorter that it would be in the US. This layout makes it possible for a community atmosphere to protect the young, independent members of society. I loved that this episode explored interesting urban phenomena that show how our physical urban layouts not only reflect our culture but also guide our behavior to produce entirely different societies.

Seeing: Geneva Vanderzeil

I love furniture and innovative interior design. A not-so-secret part of me has always dreamed of being a furniture designer, but the materials and tools needed have felt out of reach. However, Geneva Vanderzeil has proven it possible even without an elaborate wood shop or studio. She does an incredible job of using pre-made parts found in hardware and home furnishing stores and transforming them into complex and truly artful pieces. I love the reupholstered chair she created using pool noodles, her transformed arch table, and her slatted dowel TV stand. By starting with armatures from existing furniture pieces and creatively taking advantage of all the materials available, she transforms thrifted pieces into artful contemporary furniture in a way that can be achieved in one’s home with minimal resources and supplies. She has inspired me to begin similar projects myself and to look at the free chair on the side of the street as a skeleton for a transformative project.

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