Future rituals for cars and humans

https://youtu.be/EwujR1ARsog Design researchers in Stanford, in Virginia Tech, at Nissan, in Ford, and beyond have been exploring how new car technology will change how people and cars will communicate. They have people in car-seat costumes to make it seem that a car is self-driving. Then they experiment with putting the (not truly) Self-driving car onto the roads, and seeing how …

Curious Rituals design project, of how we interact with our technology

Curious Rituals: A Digital Tomorrow from Near Future Laboratory on Vimeo. A team from the Southern California Art Center College of Design, led by Nicolas Nova, Katherine Miyake, Nancy Kwon, and Walton Chiu, had a project called “CURIOUS RITUALS | Gestural Interaction in the Digital Everyday.” It focuses on how interaction designers might think of people’s relationships with, and use …

Designing Speculative Rituals — how we get to new rituals and better designs

Two University of Southern California researchers and designers, Joshua McVeigh-Schultz and Jeff Watson, presented at a Swiss Design Network event, Unfrozen, about ritual design. Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, Jeff Watson,The concept of the ‘interaction ritual’ figured strongly in Julian Bleecker’s (2009) essay on design fiction. But since then, in discussions of design fiction and speculative design this attention to ritual, and embodied experience …

A Ritual Design Reading List

In the run up to our upcoming classes and workshops on ritual design, we’ve been reading all the books we could find, in which people are exploring this type of work — bringing anthropology, org culture, design thinking, and rituals to bear on making better ways of living + working together. This is what our table looks like now. Expect …

To Do Cup ritual

Sunday night is high stress: so many meant things to do. I have crafted a ritual to get out my anxiety and to feel like I’ve conquered stuff before Monday begins. I have a measuring cup chalice, a find in a central Michigan church hand-me-down store. I list out all my to do’s, usually 6 to 10, on post it’s …

Meet Pepper, the spiritual robot

Increase in the aging population of Japan + Japanese’ changing lifestyles open up new ways of sending off their loved ones. And yes, Pepper is one of them— a robot who can chant during mourning rituals. As noted in the news, it’s seen as a cheaper option than hiring actual priests. Replacing a priest sounds uncanny at the beginning, but …

Productivity Rituals, Workaholism, and Corporate Religion

Reading the buzzed about NYTimes piece In Silicon Valley, Working 9 to 5 Is for Losers – The New York Times, the argument is clear: there is a new kind of camouflaged workaholism in our American/California culture, and likely beyond. It’s dressed up as Lifehacking, Hustle, and — even as we’ve seen in our workshops and classes — Productivity obsession. …

Ritual Design Reading List: Reinventing Ritual in contemporary Jewish life

We found this beautiful artbook, Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life, as a dive into a the rich world of how Jewish leaders and artists have worked to create more modern versions of older rituals, or new rituals for spiritual needs of today. It is less a recipe book for new rituals, and more a book of …

The To- do Cup Ritual

Productivity is one of the major Self-Ritual, life-Hacking themes we've found in our lab. So we have been tinkering with light, satisfying rituals to make the most of your day. Here is one for those particularly stressed out days, with too many tasks on your shoulders. The magic is in the tearing up- -destruction tels so good, it's a reward …

Cursing as a ritual

The Case for Cursing https://nyti.ms/2u1b173 in the New York Times lays out the magic that swearing at the most inappropriate moments can have for people. Is swearing a ritual? Potentially. If in the moment of extreme stress or pain, the utterance of one of these forbidden words can be a release, that seems to be a small, meaningful, and transgressive …

Gratitude rituals and org change from Chris Murchison

Chris Murchison of the HopeLab has been working on gratitude rituals in workplaces — non-profits, corporations, and education. He talks about how to make more nourishing, compassionate, emotionally supportive cultures at work. He’s found a link between thanking and other gratitude rituals, and people’s satisfaction at work. Especially supervisor-employee gratitude rituals can be enlivening and nourishing. Instead of Performance Reviews, …

The Fail Cheese Ritual

We realize there could be a whole branch of Failure Rituals — ways that people and organizations admit a failure, and then do the ritual to process through it, make it lighter, and feel connected as a group. In this case, from an LA tech startup, there’s a Can of Spray Cheese that goes to whomever has the latest, greatest …

Tax Day Love Money ritual

Jolene Brink writes of her tax rituals in Tax Day Is My New Year’s Eve, on The Billfold. She describes how she sets the scene for her adult, money, making-sense work of doing her taxes. She sees potential in the ritualizing of these otherwise painful (if not terrifying) yearly accounting work. What would happen if we transformed our collective anxiety …

Letter writing ritual box

To better follow through on my New Year’s resolution of writing more mail, I designed a small ritual box that is in the center of my home, right at the bottom of the staircase, where formerly there was the home phone. I used a kid’s toy packaging box (for a teddy bear, long since removed) as the structure, and then …

Ritual Co-Design and Transitions

A PhD student in Australia, Kirsten Moegerlein, has a very interesting research proposal that focuses on the power for rituals for transitions and sustainability. We came across it because it references our position paper from Carnegie Mellon a few years ago, as well as our Ritual Design Lab writings here. Kirsten outlines a project that looks at community-based rituals that …

Ritual Design for Enchanting Transitions

A few years ago, Kursat and I wrote a position paper for a symposium at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Design, all about ritual design. You can read it in full here. We propose that rituals can have a strong role to play in making transitions supported and continuous. How do people respond to the transitions that come along …

IdeaPOP: a ritual design brainstorming app

We created the app IdeaPOP for our class at Stanford, to help facilitate better — more wild, magical, and inspiring — brainstorms of new rituals. We designed it based on our framework of ritual design mechanics, and our past workshops’ inventories of rituals. It gives users a mix of three prompts at a time — a thing, an action, and …

Mourning a Fired (Disruptive) Employee ritual

Ritual design for a fired employee

In our Stanford d.school class on designing rituals for organizations, we gave some case studies to student groups, to have them play the manager role and create a quick ritual to deal with a situation at work. One group had the case of having just fired a disruptive employee from their team. What should the manager to do, to smooth …

Day-After-Election Anger Rituals

In the wake of November’s election, we’ve remixed some other mourning and dealing-with-problem rituals into ones for those with serious civic angst.  

The Value of High-Intensity, Extreme Rituals

The Puzzle of Extreme Rituals, is a class and stream of research at the University of Connecticut, as led by anthropology scholar Dimitrios Xygalatas. He investigates ‘high-intensity’ rituals, that involve physical harm and endurance. He has done ethnography work in places from southern Europe to the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. He has watched fire-walking rituals in …

A New Credit Card Ritual recipe

We are experimenting with the best ways to capture a ritual. One model is the ‘triptych’, in which we do three scenes of a ritual to show the flow of actions — and to show the payoff resolution. Here is one example that I’ve been playing with.  The situation: new Credit Cards in my life, that I want to be …

In Grief, Try Personal Rituals – The Atlantic

Author Emily Esfahani Smith has an article in The Atlantic, called “In Grief, Try Personal Rituals,” that chronicles how rituals can help people move through the grieving process and overcome an extreme loss they’ve experienced. She quotes a study from Michael Norton and Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School that finds the role of rituals in emotional resilience. Here is …

Human Shredder Ritual

The artist Jenny Suhonen has a video documenting her burial ritual of other people’s burdens. She collected people’s burdens via letters, which she gathered through a letter box installed in public. Then she cubed them with pink goo. Finally, she buried them in a forest in Stockholm. Burial of burden-letters in Supermarket Independent Art Fair 24.4.2016, Stockholm  I was collecting and …

How do you design a ritual?

 This post was originally published at our publication on Medium.   In ritual, the world as lived and the world as imagined…turn out to be the same world. -C.Geertz. As designers, we are on a perpetual quest to make things that are meaningful and special. The people we’re trying to engage are bombarded with messages and products that promise to …

Introducing Ritual Design: meaning, purpose, and behavior change

This post was originally posted on our Medium Publication on Ritual Design. — Part 1 of a multi-part series on Ritual Design   Hello, welcome to this post. Take a moment to take a deep breath three times. Now, make a wish for tomorrow. Write the wish down on scratch paper (or a virtual note). Now close the note, and …

Designing Food Rituals

In our ritual design work, we are coming across a few themes — family, productivity, relaxation, community. But as a topic & a tool, food rituals are one of our favorite. How can we use food in crafting rituals, and as the ritual itself? If you have Food Rituals that you’ve seen, experienced, or created yourself, let us know! We …

Redesigning Mondays via Rituals

IDEO NewYork partnered with Studio360, a WNYC radio show hosted by Kurt Andersen, and crafted three ideas to make Mondays feel less  horrible. First, Make the act of waking up more pleasant Second, Find reason to be happy Third, Look for opportunities to be grateful. This three step process sounds exactly like a ritual design endeavor to me. More on …

Baby Blessing Ritual

A ritual reported by one of our visitors: Participant dresses up and kneels while burning previously-prepared paper charms to ensure safe birth and a healthy life. Ritual occurs just after mother breaks water. Ritual takes place in a quiet place with a window facing a bright sky.

‘Better Than Before,’ by Gretchen Rubin, a book on habits & behavior change

‘Better Than Before,’ by Gretchen Rubin is reviewed in the NYTimes by Hanna Rosin today. The book is a ‘street science’ explanation of how habits can structure our lives, and how we can change our habits to live more the way we want to live. For a few months, Gretchen Rubin’s first book, the longstanding best seller “The Happiness Project,” …

Funerals for robot dogs

Robots dogs that are no longer supported by Sony, which made them, are being laid to rest in funerals in Japan. The dog, known as Aibo, was released in 1999 with the promise of being able to learn and express itself, so that it would develop a personality. And while they were popular for some time, Sony discontinued the dogs …

Devotional Gardening

Our colleague Carl Di Salvo’s Public Design Workshop has a nice example of a ritual design project called Devotional Gardening. A quote from their website gives a brief overview of the project: Devotional Gardening is a research through design project that examines possibilities of tools that serve a purpose beyond raw functionality. While tools are most commonly used as a …

AnxietyBox for deleting your anxieties

AnxietyBox is an interesting little ritual product that writer/programmer Paul Ford created.  The problem: anxieties get in the way of our work, they whisper in our ear and distract us. The idea: AnxietyBox will send you spam-bot emails from your designated anxiety, which you can then delete away once you receive them. The slogan: “Stop making yourself anxious – that’s …

Smartphone apps for Happiness & Calm

The NYTimes reviews 3 smartphone apps to encourage meditation, gratitude exercises, and calmness. The apps: Calm: guided meditations, with beautiful views & spoken instructions, Headspace: a path of exercises to improve your mood, focus, creativity, calmness, and other mindsets, and Happier: a gratitude journal to jot down your mood and what you’re thankful for

Mary Oliver on How Habit Gives Shape to Our Inner Lives

An article from Brain Pickings on the power of habit, profiling the poet & memoiristMary Oliver on How Habit Gives Shape to Our Inner Lives. Habit is that peculiar life-force that both obscures and illuminates the crucial difference between routine and ritual. “We are spinning our own fates, good or evil,” William James wrote more than a century ago in …

Ritual Shop, bringing meaning into the mundane

Ritual Shop is a Tumblr blog full of ritual design work, from Lillian Shi Tong. She is a grad student at Parsons, working on how to use design to improve her clients’ everyday lives. The site is rich with prototypes, design work, and other examples for aspiring ritual designers to learn from.

The Value of Time-Indulgent Ritual in Your Workday

The Value of Ritual in Your Workday – HBR. Peter Bregman has a 2010 article on how rituals, in meetings, at your desk, with your organization, can improve working life & your management of yourself. The power of ritual is profound and under-appreciated. Mostly, I think, it’s because we live in a time-starved culture, and ritual is time-indulgent. Who can …

How Ritual Delivers Performance: Lessons from Sports for Org Design

How Ritual Delivers Performance – HBR. Paolo Guenzi writes in the Harvard Business Review on the powers of ritual, taking examples from the world of sports, bringing them to leaders of other organizations.  He highlights the power of rituals to create a shared identity, stimulate emotions, reduce anxiety, build networks, and reinforce the desired behavior. All organizations have rituals — …

The Difference Between Routine and Ritual: How to Master the Balancing Act of Controlling Chaos and Finding Magic in the Mundane | Brain Pickings

Anne Lamott wrote a book, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. Maria Popova while reviewing the book gave a deliberate account of the difference between routine and ritual: …while routine aims to make the chaos of everyday life more containable and controllable, ritual aims to imbue the mundane with an element of the magical. The structure of routine …

The Power of Food Rituals (and Pre-Consumption Rituals)

Nadia Arumugam writes on Forbes, in July 2013 on the power of food rituals — packaging, eating, thinking, visualizing — how it all affects your experience of the food. Read the whole article here: How You Unwrap Candy Can Make It Taste Better: The Power Of Food Rituals – Forbes. … all of the above foods would not taste nearly …

Jeff Bridges’ Sleeping Tapes

A funny kind of soundtrack for go-to-sleep rituals, from the actor Jeff Bridges — he’s recorded an album of songs, spoken word, art combinations to get you to sleep, and posted it on his site Dreaming with Jeff.

Out of The Closet t-shirt ritual

Another design project from Purin Phanichphant, this time about a man & his tshirts — and a design intervention to choose what tshirt fits the day. The project is called Out of The Closet. Everyday, Purin wakes up, takes a shower, and picks one t-shirt, an artifact that represents his personal history, identity, and believes. But with little time and …

Authenmathai, a Thai food machine

Authenmathai is a Thai-food-making machine from designer Purin Phanichphant. He made it while doing an MfA at Stanford. When was the last time you had authentic Thai food? How do you know it was authentic? Was it simply because the restaurant had the words “authentic Thai food” right under its name? Was it because of the ingredients? Perhaps you are …

Enchanted Objects

David Rose, an inventor and a MIT Media Lab professor wrote a book on enchanted objects. In the book, he gives glimpses of future through designs: Some believe the future will look like more of the same—more smartphones, tablets, screens embedded in every conceivable surface. David Rose has a different vision: technology that atomizes, combining itself with the objects that …

The Somebody App, from routine to bizarre

I was listening to the podcast Reply All & heard a story based around the Somebody App that writer-artist-filmmaker Miranda July released last summer. The Somebody app allows you to send a text message to someone in your life, but rather than being delivered through the phone, a real person nearby your recipient will find her and deliver the message …

Kitab Kebab

A kebab skewer pierces through a selection of Slavs and Tatars’ books, suggesting not only an analytical and rational but also an affective and digestive approach to text and the very act of reading. via Slavs and Tatars.

Can we design boredom rituals?

Here’s an article from the journal Behavioral Sciences in 2013, by Shane W. Bench and Heather C. Lench, On the Function of Boredom. It points to the value of boredom in our lives, for our creativity and our health. This can be integrated into our ritual design, if we make boredom a prime context for ritual design (create health and …

Coffeemaker — Manual

Manual is a design driven brand from Chicago, focusing on rituals and meaning over routine. On their website there is a short blurb about their philosophy: In a world focused on speed and convenience, the act of preparing coffee manually and by-the-cup is a chance to truly slow down and enjoy the moment. As you master a manual brewing method, …

Prayway at the intersection of sacred /profane

From Slavs and Tatars collective group, Prayway makes a strong case for a ritual object. A collision of the sacred and the profane – the rahlé, the traditional book stand used for holy books, and the takht or river-bed, vernacular seating areas used in tea-salons – PrayWay is part installation, part sculpture, part seating area, and all polemical platform. silk …

Wait, what? Cremating Human Remains Into Diamonds…

I was intrigued when I first heard this rather interesting business from one of our d.school fellows. They take your cremated loved one and after certain chemical processes,  turn them into diamonds. It might not be a ritual onto itself, however, definitely a symbolic ritual object that can feed into mourning or let-go rituals. A quote from Fast Co’s write …

Feng Shui Rituals for a New Home

Philip Wong, a Feng Shui master, wrote the article Feng Shui Rituals for a New Home that describes several rituals for those moving into a new home. These are transitional rituals, to adjust to a new place and plan for a good future in it. A new home means the start of a new life. The act of moving is …

Rituals to Clear Out Bad Home Energy

From Apartment Therapy, here is a list of Traditional Rituals to Clear Out Bad Home Energy. While most of us inhabit our places unconsciously, Feng Shui — which is about living in harmony and with considered intention in your space — suggests that you spend some time thinking about how you want your home to work for you. Use these …

Place design for healing rituals

Esther Sternberg studies how places — and the design of spaces — can affect humans’ well-being. In terms of affecting stress, health, recovery, peace of mind, and other intangible but very felt conditions. Her work highlights the importance of how places are designed — and the potential for people to design their own living/working environments to create better triggers, contexts, …

Turkish kolonya refresh ritual

A sketch of a very ordinary Turkish ritual, that occurs when you visit someone’s home or business. They splash cologne (kolonya) on your hands — lemon, rose, tobacco scented — and then you rub it over your hands and splash it on your face. Refreshment!

Applying a Fire God Ritual into Product Design

A book chapter from Cross-Cultural Design,  A Study of Applying Sakizaya Tribe’s Palamal (The Fire God Ritual) into Cultural Creative Products Design, profiles the authors’ attempts to take a very specific ritual (a memorial ceremony from an indigenous group in Taiwan) and trying to draw upon its details & symbols to make better product design. The chapter’s abstract The Palamal …

IDEO’s Childbirth Ritual concept designs

via IDEO Imagines Five Products That Remake the Ritual of Childbirth | Co.Design | business + design. In our diversifying and increasingly secular society, rituals that unify us are dying by inches. But we still share a multitude of events, such as childbirth. Can new products and rituals stoke our memories and communal bonds? IDEO’s Designs On: Birth is the …

Apple Product Unpacking rituals

This story from Forbes on the importance of packaging highlights a quote from Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs, that focuses on how the team at Apple (especially as led by designer Jony Ives) brought ritual into the entire product experience. They were trying to create interaction rituals, even as the user was unpacking the electronic from its box.  How …

Russian departure ritual

Here is a ritual I experienced in small-city Russia.  Before you leave for a big trip — to another city, another country — you take a seat just before you head out the door.    

Makeshift issue on ritual & creativity

Makeshift — A field guide to hidden creativity has a new issue out, all about ritual.  Some of the articles are online.  They gather together examples of rituals, especially as used to be more creative & engaging. Thanks to David Jenka for passing this along to us! They inventory their community’s creativity rituals. From a clear workspace to a clear …

Birthday rituals for adults

An interesting idea via How to Celebrate the Perfect Birthday (9 Ideas) by Kevin F. Adler on The Huffington Post: how can we design excellent birthday rituals for adults — who no longer have the status of being a kid & getting to relish their birthday openly & often? What would a good birthday ritual look like for someone in their …

10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal from entrepreneurs & creatives

via 10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal – 99U. Sustained creativity doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single afternoon of inspiration. It comes from a consistent routine that serves as the bedrock for getting things done. At 99U we’ve spoken with dozens of entrepreneurs, researchers, and creatives about their unique routines. Below are some of our favorites …

Graphic Design and Religion

via Graphic Design and Religion A Call for Renewal – Daniel Kantor – GIA Publications. Graphic Design and Religion by Daniel Kantor challenges the way we look at the role of graphic design within a religious context. The beautiful and abundant illustrations coupled with the passionately written text transcend the mere visual aspect of symbols and graphic design, elevating them …

Design Anthropology for better product design

Dori Tunstall has a rich blog of insights on design anthropology, and how we can combine a deep appreciation of people’s behaviors together with our design process. She has studied different rituals and used them to create new product design — like around grooming rituals. Here she sets it apart from ‘market research’: Yoko Akama has been in interesting critic …

Creative Routines

An infographic of artists’ & writers’ creative rituals, from Info We Trust.

How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons

Colin Dayan wrote a 2011 book on legal rituals & their effect on our sense of ourselves: The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons.  It explores how legal rituals often challenges our personal identity through threats, degradation, dispossession.  She spotlights abusive rituals that have been enshrined in law — torture, slavery, solitary confinement, preventative …

Sun Dial: Exploring Techno-Spiritual Design through a Moblie Islamic app

Sun Dial: Exploring Techno-Spiritual Design through a Mobile Islamic Call to Prayer Application is a paper from back in 2008 about possible concepts to serve Muslims’ prayer practices through interesting technology. The team in Atlanta worked with the local Muslim community to tap into their current & historical rituals, and then figure out new, modern ways to serve them. Here …

Cem rituals from Alevis in Turkey

The Alevis are a sect in Turkey. This BBC 4 documentary on different religious practices around the world visits an Alevi community in Istanbul to see their religious and folk rituals in action.

Baby-Jumping to clean them of sin in Spain

In the small town of Castrillo de Murcia, people jump over infants laid down on mattresses, to cleanse them of their ‘original sin’. From Wikipedia: Baby jumping (El Colacho) is a traditional Spanish holiday dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos. During …

Telling a story every night to my kids before going to sleep

With a startup of which I am a cofounder, work gets intense and family time takes a hit. But one ritual I have religiously followed is to lie down with my kids as they go to sleep and have a 10 min story time or discussion time every day. This releases a lot of tension and has been an extremely …

Is This Your Brain On God?

via Is This Your Brain On God? : NPR.: Brain Interactive is a piece on NPR with lots of video & audio discussing how religion, near-death experiences, and god affects us physically & neurologically. More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns …

Daily Rituals of artists, a book by Mason Currey

via Mason Currey‘s site, where his book Daily Rituals is profiled: Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to …

Daily Rituals of Famous Authors 

via Daily Rituals of Famous Authors | Mason Currey. All of us have the same 24 hours a day to do things we need and want to do. But it often seems that certain people manage to do more with their allotted hours. How is it that some of us can barely manage to stay on top of our laundry (I’m speaking …