Interview with Purin Phanichphant
Purin Phanichphant is an artist, designer, and educator. We spoke with him from his hometown in Thailand, where he has just returned from San Francisco to be with family and to teach Design Thinking through the Architecture Department at Chiang Mai University. Currently, Purin’s work is exhibited via Dolby Gallery at our neighbors (and frequent Designing Change collaborators), Minnesota Street Project. Read on to dive into Purin’s artistic and accessible DADA Meditation practice, developed at the start of the pandemic, and continuing today!
With his roots in Northern Thailand, where he spent part of his life as a Buddhist monk, combined with his background in Human-Computer Interaction and designing innovative products and experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area, Purin’s work explores themes of language and cross-cultural translations, human-machine coexistence and collaboration, as well as the tension between dogmatic rules and spontaneous expression. His media often incorporates buttons, knobs, and screens, combined with a touch of code, resulting in simple, playful, and interactive experiences for the audience.
Purin’s work has been exhibited in galleries, museums, and institutions across the U.S., Japan, Thailand, and Iceland. He holds a BFA in Industrial Design and Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and an MFA in Product Design from Stanford University. Prior to becoming an artist, he worked as a principal product designer at IDEO San Francisco. He has taught design courses at Stanford University, General Assembly, and is currently teaching at UC Berkeley.
As a part of Present Perfect’s that opened in March 2020, Purin Phanichphant led a live, in-gallery meditation performance at MSP.
“The purpose of the show was sharing mindfulness, but also sharing the experience of being mindful, how meditation really brings about a kind of internal happiness into everyone’s life. So that was an interesting prelude to creating these meditations.”
Purin explains, “I’ve just [been] using what I’ve learned in my personal meditation practice and really synthesizing that into my own version of meditation creation.”
A guided, visualization-based meditation practice with a nod to the artistic movement of the early 20th century, “DADA is born out of the need … to be a little bit more experimental, and to just do, without thinking too much.” He confesses that “with the pandemic I would say my life has been a lot more experimental in doing things that I would not normally do.”
So, if a meditation practice falls under the category of something you might not usually do, consider picking up a practice in DADA! As you work your way through over 30 episodes (see the full list below), you will encounter grounding techniques informed by creativity, art, and a variety of meditation and mindfulness practices. You will also notice a progression of format that illustrates Purin’s respect for the design process– acknowledging when and where he should tweak his production.
“I’ve gotten feedback from friends, … and I’ve really built that into an ongoing, iterative process. Before, if you were to listen to the first couple episodes, it wasn’t like that. Basically, it was a lot of me talking. Later on, and more and more, it became a little bit more of a co-creation. It’s not just me saying something, but me taking a pause and letting people’s imagination run wild.”
Amidst the unpredictability of 2020, having space and support to let imaginations run wild is such an insight into what’s needed in order to recharge and recalibrate our creative minds, and Purin plans to carry that philosophy into his work as an educator, as well.
“Now that I’m in Thailand, I’m going to be teaching here. I was just saying this to a friend, that when I teach, it’s normally been about visual design, and it’s been about some knowledge that I have or something that I want to share. Moving forward I want to subtly incorporate the messages of mindfulness and spirituality into my lessons, or how to live life, I guess, and making sure that the students get that as well. That’s very exciting for me, that’s almost like taking education to the next level, so it’s not just about you getting a degree or you getting a job after you graduate from a four-year program…It’s really about a lifelong thing that it’s good to know that it’s a good thing to be giving to other people, or to stay in a positive mindset, and being grateful for what you have. The resume doesn’t reflect your quality as a human being, as a citizen, as someone who is part of a society. So I think as an educator, my mission, or my personal desire is to open the students up to that side as well. What is your talent, and how can you share it with the world? I think that’s the thing that I constantly bring back into my education, or role as an educator.”
S1 E1: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-paJWTF9gz/
S1 E2: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-r-8W4F0AT/
S1 E3: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-uknxNl0TS/
S1 E4: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-xJneell_l/
S1 E5: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-ztU5JlkFN/
S1 E6: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-7btetlo-S/
S1 E7: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B–Agp-FfSI/
S1 E8: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_AlSP8lhxX/
S1 E9: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_DKbnWFgh0/
S1 E10: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_Fu6JQn10y/
S1 E11: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_NdS3mnfYy/
S1 E12: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_Sm5fynTYm/
S1 E13: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_XwjMgHN5E/
S1 E14: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_fe6WDHcSA/
S1 E15: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_kogYRntcp/
S1 E16: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_py5uLH0ZO/
S1 E17: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_xgbwYH66T/
S1 E18: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_2qB96neZ4/
S1 E19: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_7zkr_Hc1n/
S1 E20: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CADiBxlnCIC/
S1 E21: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAIrsf-np-m/
S2 E1: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCTugSEhIIt/
S2 E2: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCY4KcTJPVm/
S2 E3: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCeB3GwH5pY/
S2 E4: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CClwFQDHe9O/
S2 E5: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCq5w2EHsds/
S2 E6: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCwDWKanT5U/
S2 E7: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CC3xnS3nr_W/
S2 E8: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CC87RXTHFRv/
S2 E9: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDCE2VDnmYC/
S2 E10: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDb0zhSHk0A/
S2 E11: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDg-YBSp8j5/
S2 E12: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDmH7RyJbFi/
S2 E13: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDt2Zk2HcJH/
S2 E14: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDy__7-H8-B/
S2 E15: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CD_38xYHo6W/
Also available via Spotify