Freyja Sewell is a designer who creates for the mind. Much of her work is aimed at facilitating privacy and mindfulness with-in our increasingly hectic and connected world. She explores this though both traditional furniture and cutting edge technologies, creating spaces and tools for increased metacognition and mental wellbeing. Freyja graduated from 3D Design at Brighton University in 2011. During her degree, she won a scholarship to Nagoya University of Arts, which provided an inspiring insight to Japanese design culture, a core continuing source of inspiration in both her personal and professional life.
Her HUSH chair is in production by Raskl Design and has been part of multiple exhibitions and articles. In 2012 she was awarded the London Design Museum Residency and her past clients include Selfridges and Unilever. Freyja has recently returned to London after two years living and working in Tokyo. During her stay she attained JLPT3 Japanese Language proficiency and spent time working with Nendo and Kengo Kuma whilst completing the prestigious Daiwa Scholarship. She was awarded the Furniture Makers Guild Bursary to undertake her studies at the RCA.
Freyja believes that rather then passively allowing technology to change us by shortening our attention span, isolating us in echo chambers and exploiting our addictive tendencies, we must pro-actively harness it to shape our minds, and so our future, for the better.
Project: The Mind Mirror
The Mind Mirror is a medical training device which allows people to understand what is happening in their brain during Meditation. There are now numerous scientific studies showing the multiple benefits that Meditation can have on our mental health, yet for many people starting and maintaining a regular practise can be a daunting task. Meditation can be a very personal and ephemeral experience, it is difficult to describe to a new, or sometimes even experienced, Meditator what they are trying to do.
A basic tenant of training is to know what it is you are aiming for, the Mind Mirror helps to remove some of the mystery of what is happening when you Meditate, guiding the user as they learn.
The system has two main components. The first part is the Neural Lace, a piece of wearable technology that uses 32 Sensors on the head to monitor brain activity. The sensors are embedded into a technical knit which features conductive thread for a lightweight, comfortable and accurate distribution across the cranium.
The second crucial element is the Bio-Data feedback. This is where the biological data taken from the brain is presented back to the user in both Visual and Audio format. The feedback is designed be in a soft, non-addictive, non-competitive formate. It is inspired by the concept of Consciousness expansion.
With these two tools the user can ‘watch’ their own mind in the Mind Mirror, gaining a deeper understanding of their Mediative practise. This understanding can be used as part of a training program, helping people to improve and hone their ability to move in and out of Mediative states.
By 2030 depression may account for the largest global ‘disease burden’, ahead of common illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Technology addiction, decreased attention spans and increased stress and anxiety are just some of the issues resulting from our unchecked consumption of technology. Research has shown that those who practice Meditation experience improved memory and emotional control, reduced anxiety and lower rates of depression. Meditation can permanently change the shape of our brains, Mindfulness Meditation offers a very real solution to these problems and an opportunity to boost our mental wellbeing in numerous ways. The Mind Mirror can help instil Meditative and Mindfulness skills in users of all ages. This is particularly advantageous for young people who will not only benefit from these skills throughout their education, but will also carry them throughout their lives. For adults, it can help improve work-life balance which will in turn lead to better performance and prevent burnout.
This project is created in collaboration with MIT research associate Professor Judson Brewer, author of The Craving Mind, and his team working from UMMS. Judson’s research shows that when a part of the brain called the Post Cingular Cortex (PCC) becomes quiet it is a strong indicator of a deep, Meditative state known as Flow State.
The Mind Mirror foresees a future where cognitive training methods using live data from the brain has become a ubiquitous part of Wellbeing, looking towards a Mental Healthcare system that uses our increased knowledge of the Mind Body connection to foster patients who can take more control of their own healing and mental-well being maintenance. Judson and his team are currently preparing the system for upcoming clinical trails following its great success in the laboratory.