Stage 1 of the Design
The Zen Door is a refreshing ritual experience for the Financial District zone of Market Street. It is a revolving door inside of a 12 ft. cube, that creates a natural and peaceful experience for the people who walk through the door. It is inspired by a the refreshing feeling of driving through a carwash — and tries to recreate this experience for a human on the street. Its target user is busy office worker who uses Market Street as a way to get places, but doesn’t typically enjoy the experience of walking through the sidewalk. As she comes out of the BART station to get on her way to a meeting, she feels stressed, tired, and covered in a layer of dirt and sweat.
As she exits the station, the Zen Door offers a quick recharge and refresh. The Zen Door is a large cube that sits on the sidewalk outside the station, with an entry that welcomes passers-by to have a moment of zen. Users are directed to enter into the cube through a revolving door. Our user decides to take a chance on the Zen Door, because she’s intrigued about what will be inside the cube & she would like a little recharge.
When she enters the revolving door, she has her own private space that is covered in plants and flowers, has gentle lighting, with a fresh mist circulating, and relaxing music playing. She circles through the revolving door & decides to walk through one more time for a second round of refreshment. The air is fresh and full of oxygen, the music and lights are relaxing, and the walkthrough is a delightful break from the Market Street bustle.
When she is in the door, she takes a cell phone picture of the interior, spotlighting all the plants and flowers. She tweets it out, saying I’m in the Zen door of Market Street. And when she goes to her next meeting, she mentions it to her colleagues, asking them if they have had a walk-through the door and telling them that they have to go check it out.
Here is where we proposed to situate the Zen Door on Market Street — though this may change depending on the Festival Organizers’ decisions.
The essential value of the Zen Door is to provide a quick but highly meaningful ritual on a stretch of Market Street that is typically considered only as functional and not as meaningful. It aims to attract office workers and others who otherwise are stressed out on Market Street and give them an alternative experience on the street. It’s aim is to make these users think of Market Street in a more positive and personal light, and to create moments that they will remember for a long time and want to share with others.
Stage 2 of the Design
As we have been moving from concept design to actual implementation, we have been playing with how to adapt the revolving door concept into another kind of walk-through ritual.
For our January 2015 check-in with the festival, our team assembled a plan in which the user would walk through the Zen Door as a series of rituals inside of a semi-opaque structure.
We would still integrate plants into the wall, but the structure would no longer be a revolving door — but instead a corridor with dividers & a path through it. Along the path, we would have small stations with ritual activities for the user to do, all of which would feed into relaxation, contemplation, and refreshment — an antidote to the busy-ness of Market Street.
We went on a materials hunt to think about what our structure would actually be made of. We were inspired by pergolas, gazebos, arbors, and other garden indoor-outdoor structures. And the other mix was green walls, and creative ways to blend plants into the structures.
Stage 3 of the Design
In the final weeks before the April 2015 Market Street Prototyping Festival, we decided how exactly we were going to craft our Zen Door experience. Our choice was to hack existing structures and materials — gazebo, curtains, shoe pocket hangers, etc.
The Zen Door Live on Market Street
From April 9-11th, 2015, our Zen Door was live & open in the Embarcadero District of San Francisco’s Market Street, for the Market St. Prototyping Festival. We had a 3-step ritual inside of our interior space — refresh with lemon kolonya, reflect by making a wish & tying it to our hanging strings, and open by having a short breathing moment before heading back out onto the wilds of Market St.