In this project I tried to answer the question: How can we support a personal ritual through design? Rituals are not always the strict and elaborate cultural rituals you might think of. People have their own personal rituals that add value to their everyday life. A personal ritual can be getting ready in the morning or making dinner for yourself. What makes personal rituals valuable to the person is often found in every move and every object used in the ritual because they all serve a unique purpose. Understanding what makes a personal ritual so special is essential if you want to incorporate new things into it. Within a team I tried to design an object that could support the ritual of handling a judo belt while honoring the ritualistic values with its appearance and function.
We talked to and observed a person that had a personal ritual around putting on and storing away their judo belt to find out what they found the most valuable about the ritual. The most valuable things in the ritual were wrapping the belt in a way that preserved the material, feeling honored to take care of something so meaningful, feeling skilled because of the complicated ways they could tie the belt and feeling confident and ready by tying all loose ends of the belt down. This ritual and the emotions felt were translated into a series of japanese style ink paintings.
The most valuable thing to add to the ritual seemed to be a tool to wrap the belt around. We experimented with different shapes for the base, different kinds of clips to secure the belt and different types of wood to create an object that would provide security and honor to the belt and create a skillful interaction the user could be proud of. A lot of inspiration was drawn from japanese materials and crafting methods, since judo originated in Japan. The whole tool was carefully made by hand.
The end product is OBI, a tool to store a judo belt on made with varnished mahogany and oak to keep the belt from wearing out. The belt fits perfectly around the wood and closes securely with a pin only if the user wraps the belt in exactly the right way. This causes the user to feel skilled and proud when incorporating the tool into their ritual. The whole tool is made to be beautiful, strong and in line with japanese design styles.