Posted Friday 29 July 2016
A new Kingston University graduate is aiming to take the stress out of travelling with her design for a meditation chair to help weary travellers relax as they pass through airports. Product and furniture design student Sara Pagani created the steel-framed Meditasi Chair as part of her final year project to enable travellers to practice meditation in airport waiting areas. The chair includes wings that stretch either side of the user to eliminate noise, a comfortable seat modelled on the Piaggio Vespa scooter and a space underneath to store luggage.
Sara knows a thing or two about travelling - hailing from the province of Piacenza in Italy and taking opportunities to study abroad in the United States and the United Kingdom from the age of 14 meant she often found herself looking for ways to ease the journey. "I know packing, being on time, security checks and dealing with last minute problems can easily make people anxious to travel," she said. "Having travelled for years, I often find waiting for long periods of time means you over-think too much which leads to stress, so I decided to try to make the idea of relaxation a part of the journey as well as the destination."
Also an avid meditator, Sara drew inspiration for the design from her own daily practice. "My mum introduced me to meditation during a very stressful period of my life a few years ago, as I was going through high school," she explained. "To begin with, I didn't practice regularly but it soon became my daily way of approaching problems and my outlook changed radically - I started using the energy I gained from meditating to solve a problem, rather than using the time to just stress about how to solve it.
Sara said the design for the projects grew from her desire to encourage others to be open to the benefits of meditation. "I believe it can help people in so many ways, but in my experience it's often introduced to people as something that is pretty complex to master," she said. "I hope the theme of the design can start a debate about the benefits of meditation, either in private or public environments."
Coming to Kingston University to study through the Erasmus scheme opened up a world of opportunities for the 23-year-old. "I came to the University in my second year and immediately fell in love with the course and the incredible workshops at Knights Park campus," she said. "The friends I made and the experiences I had made it impossible to go back to Italy, so I applied to stay here to finish my studies and, thankfully, I was successful."
Sara's final year project also included the Ataraxy, a space for pets to relax alongside their owners. "When I was researching my final projects, I found out that dog anxiety issues impact 18.6 million US households a year," she explained. "The Ataraxy is cast with a calming pheromone, the shape protects anxious pets from distressing noise and light - and it has a handle to allow the owner to easily move it around the house."
Product and furniture design course director Philip Davies said Sara's project typified the Faculty's approach to finding design solutions for everyday problems as well as commercial markets. "Sara has the skills to nurture, iterate and prove her designs in the physical realm, which a fundamental essential of our course," he said. "Our students get hands on experience and prove their ideas through making – Sara is a great example of this ethos."