Habit + Ritual explores the interwoven presence of habit and ritual in the conception and utilization of highly designed objects. 

Exhibition Curated and Designed by Briget Heidmous.

Air Vapor Untouchable TR
Part of the Nike Desert Journey Collection
Dwayne Manuel, Fine artist designed shoe, comprised of UV color changing material, leather, rubber, and fabric 

What happens when the traditional and contemporary collide? 

Only women of the O’odham tribe weave baskets that frequently feature maze-like patterns. With a core and geometric arms reaching outward winding to the edges of the basket. The maze signifies the complex path of life for the individual and the collective. 

Traditional iconography and symbolism have been employed in contemporary design without regard to history or cultural sensitivities, but sometimes, the traditional and the contemporary come together in a sense of appreciation, reverence to experience, collective community memory, and support. 

Dwayne Manuel, O’odham tribe member, collaborated with Nike to create a line of gear that reflects the strength and spirit of the O’odham people. 

Manuel says this about the line: 

    “My inspiration came from three themes: speed, journey, competition. I based the Desert Journey graphic on traditional designs that are used to decorate basketry and weaponry — two everyday objects that are passed down from generation to generation, and when viewed from a different perspective, relate perfectly to the traits of the modern competitor.”

Commuter Backpack
Maddy Afshar, Industrial Designer

What defines Industrial Design?

Industrial design has a fluid definition with an expansive reach in contemporary culture. Industrial design, the term, is regularly attributed to Joseph Claude Sinel (1919). At the inception of the term and for long after, industrial design, had been defined as the process of design separate from production and applicable only to objects being produced in mass quantity. This definition, is arguably, on the brink of obsolescence.

Industrial design continues it’s evolution with the growing interest, if not demand, for products of fare trade, sustainability, and overall ethical business practices. Ethics extend through material accusation and labor to the integrity of a products conceptual basis. Questions of authenticity and appropriation vs appreciation, arise in a globalized society. 

Industrial designers are no longer product developers removed from making: They are part sociologist, part creative entrepreneur, part lifestyle developer charged with bringing highly-functional, ethical, and aesthetically relevant objects into our daily lives.

Shed, Scaled model
Maddy Afshar and collaborator Collin Adair, Designers

How can aesthetic improvements impact the human experience? 

Human beings are social creatures that are impacted by the objects they interface with and the environments in which they exist. 

The amount of land and physical space for human consumption is growing limited. Much of physical spaces in the Colorado Springs areas and other growing cities are being infiltrated by single family homes designed for ease of construction and low production costs. But these measures to cut time and cost often cut away at what has more value: The living experience. 

The shed displayed here was designed as an element in a community improvement project. The directive was to design something that should take into account the preexisting footprint, and be both function and aesthetic. 

The designers referenced the hexagonal shape of the bee hive. The hexagon offers both added space while beautifying a traditionally mundane garden necessity. Other considerations brought to the project were climate in and around the shed, storage, and security. 

Untitled Jeanne Steiner, Fiber Artist and Director of the Arts and Crafts program at Colorado College

Jeanne Steiner, Fiber Artist and Director of the Arts and Crafts program at Colorado College

How does collective need impact the creation of objects? 

Weaving is an apex where habit and ritual collide. 

Weaving is an ancient practice used by the majority of civilized cultures to create necessary objects such as vessels, clothing, tools, objects of comfort, and objects of ritual. 

The act of weaving requires a concentrated repetitive motion employing tools, learned behavior, and taught practices. Over, under. Over, under. Pull. Tighten. And repeat. 

The repetition of the process engrains repetitive motion as habit or second nature. The task of weaving is laborious almost never without purpose. For this reason weaving maintains aspects of ritual.

Stone and Porcelain Wares
Hilary McCandless-Beard, Proprietor of McBeard Ceramics

Can aesthetic define an objects place in habit and ritual? 

Habits take place in the subconscious: This often means the habitual behavior is carried out without reverence, meaning, objects of habitual use must be able to withstand irreverent behavior in order to function reliably. Ritual, on the other hand, is a practiced intentional behavior carried out under a set sequence. 

Objects relegated to habitual use have a sense of stability, if not durability, present in both the physicality and the aesthetic of the object. Comparatively objects reserved for ritual exude a sense of delicacy that rests in the balance between fragile and vulnerable. Objects of ritual, be that a communal or personal ritual, require intention when handling them. 

Hilary McCandless-Beard is the woman behind McBeard Ceramics. She lives and works in Colorado Springs. 

Cotton and wool hand woven flat wave rug.
Aelfie, Designer

In what ways can a collective belief impact the creation of designed objects?

Evil eye is a curse. Drishti in Sanscrit, ’ayn al-hasūd in Arabic, ayna bisha in Aramaic, çaw e zar in Kurdish, il malocchio in Italian, as mal de ojo in Spanish, ge onda ögat in Swedish, to máti in Greek, and kem göz in Turkish. 

Reference to the evil eye dates back to the age of classical antiquity where it’s reality resonated cross culturally within and beyond the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was a catalyst for globalization as we know it today. The curse of the evil eye, believed to be cast by a venomous look, will condemn the recipient to misfortune or injury. Although the method of casting and outcomes of the curse are close to identical across cultures the practice of warding off the evil eye varies. The most common combatants are talismans of concentric shapes with a black center called Nazars. 

The Lounah design is influenced by the Nazar talisman and the global belief surrounding the evil eye. 

Aelfie Oudghriri, designer and owner of Aelfie LLC, creates contemporary home goods that are informed by youth culture, antique textiles, high fashion and the history of decorative arts and crafts. All rugs are designed in Brooklyn, NY. and woven by artisans in India. 

Aelfie describes the Lounah

    “This rug is like your one friend from high school who acted like a sociopath and did everything so wrong and then eventually got their shit together and you can’t [expletive] believe it. The old brilliant spark is still there, they still occasionally see lysergic trails, but     it’s when they’re bending over to tie their kid’s shoes with those light up roller wheels. Everything is still fabulous with them but just on an entirely different level.” 

Fiona (Left) Lounah (Right)
Aelfie, Designer

How does memory influence the way we experience a designed object?

Human beings are constantly filtering information and storing pieces of information in their brains, specifically, the hippocampus. The information saved serve as memories which, for various reasons, influence an individuals reactions and behaviors. Habit is a remembered response to stimulus. When interfacing with designed objects humans often have habitual responses that can border on or cross over into ritual. 

A rug for example is one of the oldest designed objects and regularly serves both functional and aesthetic purpose while being used for comfort, cleanliness, prayer, yoga, decoration, and more. The habits of an individual and the understanding of a rugs purpose will dictate each persons habitual and ritualistic response to a rug or any object. 

Aelfie Oudghriri, designer and owner of Aelfie LLC, creates contemporary home goods that are informed by youth culture, antique textiles, high fashion and the history of decorative arts and crafts. All rugs are designed in Brooklyn, NY. and woven by artisans in India.