"Obi Uke" is a project completed during the "Crafting Everyday Rituals" course I took during my first year of the Masters at TU/e.
Obi Uke is a case for the Judo belt. It is designed o enrich the ritual of folding and unfolding the Judo belt before and after practice. The support aims at giving the Judo belt the respect it deserves by reflecting Japanese values and teachings but also by mirroring the process of putting on the belt through its design. Obi Uke has three components: the belt support which keeps the belt from wrinkling, the belt clip which helps the possessor of the belt to put it on the support in a careful and controlled way, and the pouch which keeps everything protected. The concept has a high-quality finish by using natural elements such as quality wood, cotton and Japanese Sashiko embroidery motifs - waves.
Obi Uke was conducted within a team of Industrial design students. My main role was designing the pouch.
designing the pouch - the open-close mechanism, the boning, the shape, the materials, choosing the right materials, exploring with different styles of embroidery, constructing the pouch
Just like in UClean, the learning activities within this course were mostly focused on creativity and aesthetics. However, compared to the aforementioned project, here the focus was more on the details and the high-quality of the finish, as well as the meaningfulness of any design decision, even the smallest such as choosing the right shape for the closing button of the pouch. The process is described in detail in the following process map:
creative & aesthetic
Being passionate about soft things, I was mostly involved in the design and execution of the pouch which I believe was a valuable finishing touch to the Uke – it helped “open” and “close” the circular structure of the ritual. I do enjoy as well symbolism and tried to implement it in the design - the wave motifs in the corners (signifying the calm of starting the ritual and closing it after practice) and their cornered shape to match the perfectly thought out shape of the Uke. The boning structure of the pouch was measured and cut to perfectly fit the 5 segments of the Uke it is covering (the bottom, and the upper and bottom half of the sides) – it was also sawn between two layers of thin cotton to give it flexibility and a nice, satisfying feeling to the judoka when folding and unfolding it.
I have learned the difference between a ritual and a ceremony by diving into what constitutes a ritual and what values it brings to a person’s energy, and, more importantly, how those values can be used towards creating a good design. This knowledge is also useful when designing for what I am generally interested in: user interfaces (especially tangible ones) and experiences in entertainment where even though the general amusement is aimed at the masses, each individual perceives it in relation to their own values - see Brainport Connects. In addition, I learned practical skills such as working with wood, the industrial embroidery and sawing machines which made a good base for a project such as Black Textures.