Electronic devices are intertwined with our daily lives yet are the root of collective anxiety due to constant interruptions with an overwhelming amount of information. Activities scientifically proven to be effective in treating anxiety disorder require patience and time, such as knitting or gardening. Yet with our lack of time, we are led to need a more accessible resting activity.
I designed a method to facilitate momentary inner peace while embracing our obsession with smartphones. Taking inspiration from the Chinese/Japanese gardening art “Pen-zai/Bonsai”, Bon-zen helps users cope with anxiety by dynamically cataloging their daily feelings in the form of a digital bonsai tree. The tree serves as a 3D model of a living journal.
Each day, users input their emotional well-being by dragging pre-customized colors that represent their feelings. The app captures one dominant emotion of that day through gestures and color. The bonsai then grows based on the daily input. After a week, a new bonsai is fully grown.
This process creates a space for users to freely release their emotions, and process them in a dynamic and customized visual language. With a bedtime check-in customized to users’ schedules, they gain a sense of accomplishment from the habit of journaling and exploring their experiences and struggles. Zen is based on slowing down and calmly savoring each piece of life. Watching the bonsai bloom provides relief from users’ fast-paced daily life.