monkey mind

The idea of the monkey mind comes from Buddhism. The term has been adopted by yogis to describe a mind that jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. The monkey mind cannot exist in the present moment, but rather is constantly distracted by the thoughts that pass through.

The practice of yoga and meditation are methods that can help train the mind to focus on the present. The monkey mind is an agitated state to be in. The inner monkey dreads something that may occur in the future or fixates on something that happened in the past. It jumps around, resting briefly on one of the many thoughts that pop up before moving on to something else.

Learning to recognize this tendency and disengage from it helps us be calmer, less stressed, and more productive.



Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being." It is similar to the French phrase Raison d'être. Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is important to the cultural belief that discovering one's ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

Examples include work, hobbies and raising children. The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki meaning life /  alive and kai meaning effect / result / fruit / worth / use / benefit  "a reason for living or something that makes life worth living. In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as "a reason to get up in the morning"; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner suggested ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.

The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one's life or the things that make one's life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It's not necessarily linked to one's economic status or the present state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make us feel ikigai are not actions we are forced to take—these are natural and spontaneous actions. In the article named Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei ("Ikigai: the process of allowing the self's possibilities to blossom") Kobayashi Tsukasa says that "people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization."

Samu Sounds

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass reissued 2017

Charlie Bones played this one morning on NTS and I've been hooked since. Considered a Holy Grail of Japanese music by many, "Through The Looking Glass" is Midori Takada’s first solo endeavor, a captivating four-song suite capturing her deep quests into traditional African and Asian percussive language and exploring contemplative ambient sounds with an admirably precise use of marimba. The result is alternatively ethereal and vibrant, always precise and mesmerising, and makes for an atmospheric masterpiece and an unparalleled sonic and spiritual experience. 

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass (1983).

1. Mr. Henri Rousseau's Dream
2. Crossing
3. Trompe-L'oeil
4. Catastrophe Σ

Cover: "「残されたアリウス」" by Ochida Yoko (1981).


In such a throwaway culture, we believe it is important and necessary to practise more environmentally friendly production methods and to reuse materials wherever possible. Traditional art forms such as Boro might sound unfamiliar to the everyday person, but in the world of indigo and Japanese fabrics, it has a storied history.

In English, ‘Boro’ literally translates as ‘rags’ or ‘scraps’ of cloth. Japanese Boro is a form of production that was born out of necessity; the poorer population in the north of Japan stitching together old pieces of hemp, indigo dyed cotton and other fabrics to repair clothing and blankets for longevity. Families handed down these garments and continually re-patched and repaired them, giving them their unique layered appearance. Each Boro garment or blanket acts as a physical encyclopedia of hand loomed fabrics from historical Japan. No two items are the same and each has their own soul, beauty and story to tell.

When Japan stepped into the modern era and industrial common production became more commonplace, the boro style faded in popularity. Now, they’re regarded in the correct fashion; as tactile pieces of Japanese history. What’s especially significant for appreciators of raw denim is that in a similar way to a pair of nineteenth century denim overalls, boro was truly utilitarian.

Fast forward to the present day, and Boro is enjoying somewhat of a revival in the fashion and art worlds. It’s only right that some of the most renowned modern Japanese brands are carrying boro into the 21st century. Kapital is one such brand, who have produced boro denim jackets, jeans and even a tote. They’re deconstructed in a way to mimic the boro garments and textiles of old. Whereas in the past it was out of necessity, it’s now to honor that history.


no mind

No Mind or 'Mushin' is an expression used in the East to describe mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of "no-mindness". That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.

No mind is achieved when a person's mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear, or ego during everyday life. There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react without hesitation and without disturbance from such thoughts.

Design, Sustainability

Marni - 100 Chairs

Marni - 100 Chairs

It’s been said that a chair is a designer’s self-portrait, and this series conjures a strong, welcoming Colombian connection. Furniture design is constantly pushing the boundaries of form, materiality and processes to strive for new perspectives and visually exciting outcomes. This charity project by Marni employs Colombian ex-prisoners to weave these chairs using traditional techniques as part of a rehabilitation programme. The chairs are produced from salvaged materials including concrete reinforcing bars for the structure and coloured PVC piping for the seat and backrests. Marni chose the twenty colours that run throughout the palette, and had seven models in which to experiment with as well as ten deckchairs and ten tables. The results look visually dynamic and structurally simplistic, but are surprisingly complex. The fact the weaving has been completed as part of a rehabilitation method means there’s not only a tangible end-product, but that this production process can benefit people’s lives. This adds a human touch to the chairs that similar mass produced items in the marketplace cannot offer. The materials chosen are also significant to the final outcome, using unconventional materials makes the chairs feel fresh and contemporary, whilst the contrasting traditional weaving technique takes the project from the romantic to the functional.

Salik Miller


new realms of materiality

Well Proven Chair 

James Shaw / Marjan van Aubel/ UK

Processing wood from planks to products incurs 50-80% of timber wastage during normal manufacturing. These two designers looked at ways of incorporating waste shavings into the design process using bio-resin. An interesting chemical reaction happens when it is mixed with the shavings; it rapidly expands into a foamed structure. By adding colour dye and experimenting with various sized shavings from different machines, a colourful, lightweight and mouldable material was created that was also durable and reliable. The mixture of resin and shavings are applied to the underside of the chair shell by hand, and then it foams explosively to create its own exuberant form, anchored by the simple turned legs of American ash wood. This object breaks new realms of materiality and challenges the traditions of furniture making, resulting in an ethically produced and consciously designed item. 

Salik Miller

Design, Sustainability



Bas Timmer / Netherlands

Homelessness is a massive and complex social issue, affecting people all over the globe. Through underlying concerns such as a lack of affordable housing, lack of access to mental health services or lack of addiction recovery programs, people find themselves on the street and very rarely by choice. Dutch designer Bas Timmer recognised a problem with keeping warm on the streets, and provided a great solution – to take leftover tents from festival sites and turn them into fully insulated jackets for the homeless. The Sheltersuit provides full protection from the elements with a top and bottom half, which has been carefully considered to meet the requirements of those in need. Inspired by a friend’s father dying on the streets, makes the project very personal for the designer. Materials which would otherwise be thrown away are being used is a remarkable example of recycling. If that wasn’t enough, the Sheltersuits are sewn with the help of professional tailors whom also happen to be Syrian refugees. They can participate in Sheltersuits in exchange for help with housing and assimilation classes.

Over 2,500 Sheltersuits have already been distributed for free throughout the Netherlands to help those in need.  


Salik Miller 

Design, Sustainability

a better table

Ripple Table

Designed by Benjamin Hubert / UK

The ripple table is 400% more sustainable than similar objects on the market and uses 80% less material than solid timber structures. Its impressive size of 2.4m x 1m is enhanced by the weight of the table, coming in at 12.5kg’s it is perfectly capable of being moved and assembled by a single person effortlessly. Considering its materiality and transit flexibility, the overall carbon footprint of the table is significantly reduced. The table’s corrugated-plywood construction boasts an impressive strength to weight ratio using Sitka spruce, a natural and sustainable material. Aside from these advantages the table is visually provocative with its slender and contemporary form. A reduction in materiality is currently a growing movement in the design industry, and this table reflects the attitudes and possibilities of what is available.

Salik Miller

Sustainability, Art

Colombian Artists Turn Plastic Bottles into Artisan Lamps

Lighting Lives with Plastic Bottles

This project is a great example of sustainable and ethical practice in product design. Taking plastic bottles from polluted rivers and turning them into artisan lamps from local communities across the world is a wonderful idea that opens cultural doors and challenges us to question materiality and processes, whilst simultaneously reminding us that we control the fate of our resources.These are created in conjunction with Colombian artisans, which celebrate and extend traditional weaving techniques from a culturally rich heritage. Each lamp begins as a discarded plastic bottle with the neck providing the structure, whilst the body is lacerated to form a warped shape that can then be woven. The artisans select their chosen colours and patterns based on their own weaving traditions. The original shape of the bottle dictates how it will be cut and influences its final shape, meaning every lamp is entirely unique. The project is moving to other areas which opens the doors to even more culturally rich designs. 

Salik Miller