Split between London and Atlanta, Soner Ozenc Product Design Studio (SOPDS) is a perfect illustration of the international Muslim diaspora, and the firsthand experience of designer Soner and his business partner Bahadir is precisely the inspiration for the "EL Sajjadah" electroluminescent prayer mat. (The two were born and raised in Turkey, and they've been collaborating since they met in high school over a decade ago.) The backlit prayer mat incorporates GPS technology such that it lights up when facing Mecca:
There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world and 'prayer' is one of the prominent pillars of Islam. A prayer mat is the only product required during the 5-times-a-day prayers. Its main function is to provide a clean and isolated platform for the prayer. With the unique patterns on its surface, it also aims to bring the atmosphere of a mosque wherever it's taken.
Muslims need to pray towards Mecca where Holy Kaaba is located. Current practice is that an analogue compass is used to find this direction if it is not already indicated by a mosque or a local sign...
EL Sajjadah shows the right direction to pray by lighting up the patterns on its surface when facing Mecca, so that the interface becomes the prayer mat surface itself. Two pieces of information are required in order to do this:
- where north is, which is provided by a built-in digital compass,
- where we are in the world, which is manually input by the user via the 'city selection button'.
In addition to its functional capacity, the design itself has many layers of meaning, but I'll let Soner explain that himself:
Astute readers (and design enthusiasts) might remember "EL Sajjadah" from MoMA's Talk to Me exhibition, where it was very well-received; Soner is pleased to announce that it's ready for production via Kickstarter.