There are different objects and places that have been associated with feelings of peace and calmness, but one of the most iconic ones that span cultures and nations is the carefully designed minimalist Zen garden. Just seeing one, even in a picture, is enough to trigger mental images of peaceful meditation, whether by simply sitting on a spot or raking around sand. Of course, not everyone has space for a real Zen garden at home, and miniature kits can get problematic to maintain because of their use of real sand and, sometimes, real plants. If you’re fine with just the symbolic representations of the principles of Zen, then this sustainable playset for grownups not only gives you the creative freedom to design the Zen garden of your dreams, it even becomes a meditative practice in itself.
Designer: ILSA Yumeng Li and Zongheng Sun (PEAR & MULBERRY)
Puzzle toys and playsets have existed for decades, even centuries, and while the majority of these are designed for younger audiences, there are a few that require a more experienced mind to enjoy. Sometimes a puzzle could be too complicated, or a set might have intricate parts. Some kids might still have a bit of fun with this innovative playset, but it will be adults that will benefit from it the most because it evokes emotions and thoughts that only a stressed adult would be able to appreciate.
Meta.Zen, in a nutshell, lets you put together a Zen garden of your own design. You can make it as simple or as complicated as it can be, limited only by the number of pieces you have at hand. The hexagonal base pieces magnetically attach to one another, making them simple to use even for those with physical handicaps. The magnets are strong enough so that you can even stick the finished garden to a wall to serve as a calming piece of decoration. And since there’s no sand or plants involved, there’s no mess either.
It’s more than just a simple playset, though, and each and every piece is carefully designed with the same meticulous attention to detail that Zen gardeners use. The almost random ridges and valleys of the base tiles can be combined and connected in multiple ways, creating millions of Zen patterns that you can change as your heart desires. The pebbles, stone lamps, and structures that you can place on top also magnetically attach to the intersection of tiles, making it effortless to create any arrangement you could think of. More than just the final result, the process of putting together this playset can become a calming and meditative activity of its own.
And, of course, Meta.Zen also gives peace of mind that your serenity doesn’t come at the cost of the planet’s life. The parts are used using biodegradable PLA based on walnut wood, while only natural fibers like algae and bamboo are used to give the pieces their earthy colors. Each piece is designed to let you see and feel elements of nature on a smaller scale, giving you the freedom to take not only the playset but also your Zen bubble with you wherever you go.