An interactive healing space from New York’s Rubin Museum of Art to open for London Design Festival - FAD Magazine

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An interactive healing space from New York’s Rubin Museum of Art to open for London Design Festival

On Saturday, 16th September 2023, the Rubin Museum of Art will open its interactive and large-scale traveling Mandala Lab installation in Union Square in Canary Wharf as a highlight of the London Design Festival.

Based in New York City, the Rubin fosters understanding and appreciation of the Himalayan region by connecting its art and ideas to contemporary issues that are relevant in our visitors’ lives today.

We are excited to participate in the London Design Festival and demonstrate how Buddhist principles can merge with design practices to inspire meaningful experiences. The traveling version of our Mandala Lab is an important demonstration of the Rubin’s mission to bring awareness and understanding of Himalayan art to global audiences.

Jorrit Britschgi, Executive Director of the Rubin Museum of Art,

Inspired by powerful Buddhist principles, the Mandala Lab is an interactive space designed to explore challenging emotions and consider how to transform them into wisdoms. The Lab features five thought-provoking and playful experiences—including scents accompanied by videos, a sculpture that invites collective breathing, and curated percussion instruments dipped in water—that guide visitors on an inner journey that supports connection, empathy, and emotional learning. As visitors journey through the space, they will examine feelings of pride, attachment, envy, anger, and ignorance—known as kleshas in Buddhism—that cloud our understanding of the world around us.

The Mandala Lab will open during the London Design Festival and remain on view through 25th November. On opening day (Saturday, 16th September), the Mandala Lab will be open from noon – 18:45 with a public Breathe-In event at sundown to celebrate the launch. At 19:00 renowned solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie will perform a gong-and-water performance in the Mandala Lab, which will be relayed as an outdoor sound experience for the public. Neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart will outline the health and social benefits of the breathing pace generated by the Lab. Visitors will then be guided by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Khen Rinpoche Hungtrampa in the Breathe-In, a synchronized breathing meditation to invite feelings of serenity and well-being.

The London opening is the second international appearance of the Rubin’s traveling Mandala Lab, a free-standing structure adapted from the museum’s permanent Lab at their New York City location. This long-term installation opened in 2021 and was designed by architecture firm Peterson Rich Office (PRO). The traveling installation, which debuted at the 2022 Wellbeing Summit for Social Change in Bilbao, Spain, was designed in collaboration with Madrid-based architecture firm EXTUDIO and design and production office ENORME STUDIO. The touring installation furthers the Rubin Museum’s global programming and commitment to educating and engaging international audiences around Himalayan art and its insights. The Mandala Lab features contributions from artists across many disciplines to create an experience that evokes self-awareness and awareness of others.

Artist-filmmakers Laurie Anderson, Sanford Biggers, Tenzin Tsetan Choklay, Amit Dutta, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the late Wang Yahui contributed personal reflections and videos based on memories associated with specific scent, recreated by perfumer Christophe Laudamiel.

The Mandala Lab as a travelling experience was always intended to meet people where they are, emotionally and geographically. Each of the experiences in the Lab can help visitors appreciate that the feelings we have about the world around can cloud our perspective. The Lab fosters opportunities for a greater clarity. Our hope is that all Londoners, whether or not working in the fast-paced business center of Canary Wharf, may come to see the Lab as a welcome chance to unpack their emotions in a safe and curated environment.

Tim McHenry, Mandala Lab Project Lead and Chief Programmatic Officer of the Rubin Museum of Art

International musicians Sheila E., Billy Cobham, Sarah Hennies, Taku Hirano, Peter Gabriel, Evelyn Glennie, Huang Ruo, and Shivamani helped curate and select the featured instruments in the sound installation in which gongs are submerged in water, transforming their effect. Gabriel, who has advocated for a greater awareness of music’s ability to heal, selected a 28-inch Paiste bronze gong in collaboration with sound artist Samer Ghadry.

Visual artist Palden Weinreb designed a pulsing light sculpture evoking the perfect circle of the Mandala, which references the forms of the natural world, and can be used to guide a synchronized breathing meditation.

We are thrilled to be partnering with the Rubin Museum of Art and to present an installation that reveals how the power of design affects our minds and increase our capacity for mindfulness. The Mandala Lab will harness innovation and creativity to help Londoners better connect with their emotions.

Ben Evans, Director of the London Design Festival,

Inspired by Buddhist principles, the Mandala Lab will be free and open to the public in Union Square at Canary Wharf from 16th September – 25th November 2023 rubinmuseum.org/mandala-lab


The Rubin Museum explores and celebrates the diversity of Himalayan art, ideas, and culture across history and into the present. With its globally renowned collection, the Rubin fosters understanding and appreciation of this extraordinary region by connecting its art and ideas to contemporary issues that are relevant in our visitors’ lives today. Largely inspired by the philosophical traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, the Rubin offers innovative exhibitions and programs that examine provocative ideas across the arts and sciences. In doing so, the museum serves as a space for reflection and personal transformation, opening windows to inner worlds so visitors can better navigate outer ones. rubinmuseum.org

London Design Festival was launched by Sir John Sorrell CBE and Ben Evans CBE in 2003. Building on London’s existing design activity, their concept was to create an annual event that would promote the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers, and educators to deliver an unmissable celebration of design. The launch of the first Festival took place at Bloomberg on 25th March 2003, with a show of support from design, education, government, and London organizations.
20 years later, this vision remains ever strong. londondesignfestival.com



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