Collection: Part 3

Primary Research

Part 3 Primary Research


Part I / IV


With a topic as broad as Adventure, the possibilities and directions for research are endless. There are so many interpretation that I need to separate my research to avoid an overflow of data, and a counterproductive research week. Because of that, I have decided to divide my primary research into three distinct but intellectually overlapping categories. The first is "The Psychology of Adventure", where I will look at the biological reasons why we, as a species, have this irrefutable need for adventure. The second will be "The Socioeconomics of Adventure" where I will look at the distinct characteristics of why some people go on adventures and why some people don't. Note that this is different from the first category since I am not looking at the biology but at the environment people are in. The third will be "My Adventure" where I will spend a week in the Southern Alps of France, with my friends and family, doing every activity possible and recording it on my Canon 650D.



"The Psychology Of Adventure"

Why do we crave exploration?

For the psychology section of my research, I primarily looked at how the human body interacts with its surroundings, and why some people are more inclined to go on adventures, biologically. My primary question was a direct response to my time in the South of France during research week. I was wondering why I took bigger risks than both Sondos and Samantha. Even though we all went skiing, why did I need to go fast and jump higher. Was I biologically predisposed to some need for adrenaline that both my friends did not have?

"Research shows that some people need more than the normal dose of life’s excitement, and to achieve this, they seek out high-risk activities. According to experts, brain chemistry plays a significant role when it comes to risk-seeking behaviour. Studies suggest that extreme athletes often share a set of traits such as optimism, high energy, originality, high self-confidence and a tendency to want to control their own fate." (Healy, 2015)

 This piece of information conveniently answers my original question on why I was more of a risk taker than my friends. The fact that I take part in extreme sports regularly makes me seek out more risks than my friends who might not do them so often. 


""The standard definition of a ‘sensation seeker’ is actually the pursuit of novel and intense experiences without regard for physical, social, legal or financial risk," says Dr Melanie Schlatter, a health psychologist in Dubai. "People who do extreme sports are not all risk-takers nor are they impulsive, in fact, it has been proposed that they do it to obtain a sense of control. For example, when ascending a steep ice slope, individuals need to be absolutely fastidious with their equipment preparation before a big climb, they need to avoid risk as much as possible and they need to be calm in the face of danger or threat to survival."(Healy, 2015)

This opinion actually contradicts a little bit the first one because it says that extreme sport participators are actually not reckless, and don't take more risks than other people. I do agree however that the control I have over my body when I bike down the mountain at full speed is definitely pleasurable and enjoyable. I am in total control of what happens and I love that. I hate rollercoaster however, because I can't control anything.


"I am a dopamine addict it seems, drawn to the feel-good neurological transmitter that is produced when you achieve big goals." (Hayes, 2015)

 I do agree with Hayes that achieving a big goal is definitely high up on my list. However, that may not be true for some people, or their goals might just not include adventure. They might be more relied on feeling comfortable.



"All beings, from the greatest minds to the simplest forms of life on this planet and possibly others, are explorers. All are, thus, without exception, competent to contribute to this discussion in one form or another." (Cabrol, 2012)

This quote is  actually originally from a science blog where a student wrote about her views on why we explore the universe. However, it does fit the theme of my project because it looks into the more theoretical and conceptual aspect of exploration that might not be directly obvious. Her essay is stunning and weirdly enough very inspiring to explore. I think people have a tough time understanding their place in the universe and that's a great way of interpreting it. 


"Each species goes as far and as fast as its evolutionary path can take it. This path is dictated by that species’ exposure to the environment and to other species. We (as in life in general) are all trying to constantly expand our horizon, for there is gain in doing so. At the most primary level the gain is physical survival through a greater range of environments, which provide additional resources to supply a greater number of individuals of the same group. The curiosity and awe that we humans associate with exploration is a late comer. Understanding when this driving force developed is by itself a fascinating subject. I do not believe the first bacteria were curious about their environment; they simply tried to adapt to it."(Cabrol, 2012)

I think this quote is the epidomy of my personal views. A lot of people put emphasis on god and all these other things but they don't look into the evolution part. Humans didn't come out of nowhere and our drive for adventure and exploration is a direct response to our evolutionary traits. When there was no food or shelter, we had to either fight or fly and that shows through our biological predispositions now.


"But as far as humans go, beyond survival, exploration is certainly associated with physical, mental, and spiritual questioning that fuel each other by changing our perception of all the dimensions we know of, and give to the universe. Iterative questioning and exploring expands our imagination, thus our ability to further question and explore. The curiosity we apply to exploration is also one way for us to stimulate our imagination and gauge its validity in understanding our universe and its endless diversity. To some extent, it is the way each generation has to create its own universe".(Cabrol, 2012)

Now this quote is more geared towards space exploration but I think it's important for my project to show the reasons why people want to explore. Since all of us are unique and all of us respond to our envonment differently, we all discover and explore differently. Some people's adventure might be extreme for others and vice versa. It's a grey area available for interpretation.


"Some of us step boldly into that new adventure without a  hint of fear seeking it out often. Some of us take a little bit more time and make sure we make a calculated analysis before we step into the vast adventurous unknown." (Reynolds, 2015)

This is an exact answer to my original question on why some people take more time to jump into an adventure than others. It just has to do with your comfort level, and the way you were raised. If you were in a safe, calm environment, you might want to live your life mimicking that environment. For me, I was raised in an energetic family that constantly traveled, ran, swam, mountain biked or skiied and that makes me more prone to seeking out bold adventures, even though I do get scared.


"In truth, the only failure when is comes to adventure, is not going on one." (Reynolds, 2015)

I agree with this statement to a certain extend. There have been times where I have been on adventures and felt that it was a waste of my time and money. So the real failure there was that what I thought was an adventure really wasn't.


"We are like kids in a candy store full of adventures and it’s sad if we fail to open that delicious looking box of candy and try something new." (Reynolds, 2015)

This quote is hard to grasp out of context, but it basically talked about how its a shame that people don't go on more adventures when they have access to it. I do agree to that and it still puzzles me. But that's just my personal opinion. I understand why they don't go on adventures but I don't agree with it, it's simple.


"Human exist for about 100000 year and tremendous amount of that time they were migrating from one place to another, they were hunting, collecting and all of them include some sort of risk in them. By doing all that ancient people were trying to survive." (Teasdale, n.d)

This pertains directly to the idea of survival that the first few quotes talked about. The reason we are pre-disposed to adventure is that we had to fight or fly when danger arose. Now that I am sitting on my chair writing this on my computer, I can't help think of how I would have behaved thousands of years ago, when none of our modern technology was here.


"Fueled by the thrill of exploring new places, we’re reminding ourselves that we are still animals on a wild planet." (Teasdale, n.d)

I absolutely agree with this quote, but I do also believe that it is our duty to respect the environment we live in. We have to take care of it and make sure that it does not disappear because of our reckless behaviours. 


"For thousands of generations we’ve tested ourselves in the wilds. It’s where we’re from and, if we let ourselves feel it, where we’re still most at home. We’re literally hardwired to be outside. It’s where we come to life."(Teasdale, n.d)

This quote connects to my original idea that we are for sure pre-disposed to adventure, and the fact that we have become less and less wild animals, we have let go a little bit of our original, biological selves. I think that's a real shame and I want to find a way to fix that with my final product.


"So we go outside and explore. Once we’re out and free from modernity’s numbing embrace, we’re rejuvenated. Whether it’s for half an hour or half a year, we find the strength and spirit found only in untamed places." (Teasdale, n.d)

This just adds to what I stated above. I need to bring in some kind of product that pushes people away from their technology and makes them want to go outside.  


"As creatures who evolved with biological responses to risk, many amongst us have a natural desire for endorphins, and adrenaline that comes with risk taking and must indulge in habits that exist beyond the realm of the day to day." (McTavish, 2015)

This is exactly the answer to my question on the  biological reasons of why we are pre-disposed to adventure. What chemicals or reactions in our body makes us want to get up and explore, go outside or on an adventure. I think I really need to highlight this piece in my research.


"We see adventurous people as being somehow different from ourselves: stronger, braver, tougher, fitter. They are versions of our best selves: the doers in life, the fearless, those who go over the mountain and come back to tell us what's on the other side." (Delaney, 2008)

I agree with that but at the same time, I think that people have different needs and wants and that some person's explanation of adventure might be very different for another. I need to keep this in mind when continuing my research. 


"Seeking adventure is more common amongst people who are extroverted, who are outgoing, who are sociable, because one of the things they need -- apart from the excitement of people -- is excitement generally." -James Thompson

This really speaks to me on a personal level because it pertains to my personality. I am naturally extroverted and excited all the time, so the threshold gets higher for me to feel some kind of adrenaline. I think the same goes for the rest of my family, because that's how we interact with each other. 


"Psychologists have linked adventure-seeking with a range of positive qualities. Adventure can:

  • shape personality traits
  • teach resilience and help you cope with adversity
  • increase your capacity for risk-taking
  • sharpen your judgments about risk-taking
  • assist in problem solving and teamwork
  • promote psychological toughness
  • increase your appreciation of nature
  • promote strength and fitness
  • give you optimism and confidence in your abilities" (Delaney, 2008)

 This is great because it really highlights the importance of finding adventure of your life. I have learnt from the above research that something adventurous for one person might be different for another and that really shows how any type of adventure can highlight favourable qualities with everyone.


"Many young people are naturally adventurous -- throwing their energy and enthusiasm behind sport, hobbies and travel. Witness the explosion of school leavers taking gap years (a year off in between school and university or the workforce), with the destinations becoming more and more exotic and activities accompanying the travel designed to expand their mind as well as their horizons. But later in life, we can wake up and find our lives leeched of adventure. We may be loaded down with a mortgage, kids or a demanding job. Adventure then becomes something we prefer to read about rather than live. We fall into the trap of the armchair traveler and become transfixed by all the journeys we didn't make." (Delaney, 2008)

This quote is really great to understand how adventure changes overtime, after you've lived out your life. I think it's important to understand the different adventures for different people, and that highlights it perfectly. I do notice now the more I think about it that young people are more adventurous than old people. However, I do wonder if being older wouldn't push you to go on adventures because you are at an all time low or something like that.


"A survey released by the Adventure Travel Trade Association in March 2007 said today's typical adventure traveler was "female and fortyish." "Women make up the majority of adventure travelers (52 percent) worldwide, with the most common destination being South America," said the trade association. The survey of travelers from 35 countries also found that people aged 41 to 60 are the highest participating age group in adventure travel. A survey by YouGov in the UK has identified a new subset of British -- the Nifty Fifties. They've had the responsible jobs and raised their children -- and now they want adventure." (Delaney, 2008)

 Aha! I knew there was a twist to this! Young people are adventurous because they are discovering the world for the first time, and then it dips down when the responsibilities kick in, and then it comes back up when they are tired of being in a routine. That's where the mid-life crisis comes in, and now that my parents are old enough, I definitely see it.


"I see adventure as going beyond something you feel comfortable with. If you are uncomfortable going to the end of your street and you go beyond this, then you are being adventurous" (Dave Wroe, 2008)

This is kind of the main point in my presentation that I want to highlight. I know now I want to push people out of their comfort zone somehow. 



"The Socioeconomics Of Adventure"

Why do some people go, and some people don't?

For the socioeconomic section of my research, I looked at the reasons why some people are willing to go on adventures and some people not so much. Is it more based on their background, and financial upbringings, or is it more focused on their economical status at that moment. I know from personal experience that adventure is not cheap, and I understand that people can't afford to do so on a regular basis, but what is stopping them from saving up for that adventure? Maybe they are just contempt with their place now and seek adrenaline and the pre-disposed chemicals in another way. 

I also looked into the recent statistics on the different demographics of adventure, to see if that can shed light on the above mentioned question. 

"Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in the United States, each year generating $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs." (Outdoor Industry Association, 2017)

This is probably the coolest fact I have ever read. $646 billion sounds enormous, but that includes everything in adventure for each person that goes on an adventure. I mean that it includes flights, food, hotels, activites ect. It's crazy!

The graph below really shows that, but it only goes up to 2009, and I couldn't find a more recent graph. I would only assume it would be bigger since the fact I mentioned above is up to date.


"There is good reason much of adventure sport is limited to the caucasians, and the middle classes. By no means is this a rule, as generations of dirtbag climbers have shown. But being able to go on adventures requires a certain financial freedom. Wealth I think is how many are both able, and inspired to chase adventure." (McTavish, 2015)

I definitely agree with this, and I have noticed it increasingly when I was skiing. I did not see anyone that was not caucasian. Seriously, I didn't see any other ethnicity than white, blond with blue eyes. It was crazy. However, I know a lot about the reasons behind the certain demographics in the united states in the ghettos and things like that, and it comes from years and years of mistreatment, bias and racism. So it is of no surprise.


"When you think of adventure travel, you might conjure up an image of a group of athletic 20-somethings kayaking or rock climbing. Guess what? According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the average age of an adventure traveler is 48. More than half – 53% – are female; 47% are male." (Goldberg, 

I saw the same fact while looking into psychology, and I am not surprised by it. It looks to me like that age group have their kids grown up, in college, with a steady job, and the stresses of life might be lifted a little bit more than before. It makes sense for them to start exploring and going on adventures more.


"According to a 2014 study published by Skift and StudentUniverse, the student traveler represents fully one-fifth of all international arrivals in the travel industry, commanding a market value of some $320 billion." (Reynolds, n.d)

Apart from that ridiculously high number, I understand how students would have the time and excitement and energy to go on adventures. The only thing that I wonder about is where did all that money come from? When I went to France, my grandparents paid for our food and let us stay at their house so that was cheap, but we did spend a lot on skiing.


Millenials: "The number of travellers older than age 30 showed the biggest percentage increase from 2007, rising from 10% of the market to 17%, while younger travellers, aged 23 to 30, have seen a decrease of a similar percentage. Young people continued to spend when they travel. The average is €3,000 per trip, €50 a day, with self-identified "flashpackers" the highest spenders, followed by backpackers and travelers. The biggest difference since 2007 was the length of visit. The average stay of 58 days was almost a week more than in the previous study. The ability to book using mobile devices is now the second biggest consideration after price. Online booking is ranked behind "close proximity to a physical travel agency" as far as importance. Websites are, however, still how most young travelers seek information about future destinations. The city most young travelers wanted to visit was Rio de Janeiro, followed by Tokyo, Sydney, Buenos Aires, and San Francisco." (Reynolds, n.d)

These facts did not shock me too much because I understand how they can spend that much on trips and everything. However, I am amazed at how long they go on an adventure. 58 seems awfully high, so I wonder if this is during the summer, or a cumulative average of their time spent on vacation.


Generation X: " reports that Gen X travelers, those born between 1965 and 1980, will take the most leisure trips. They account for one out of every three leisure travelers and will average between three and four trips this year. According to, their top travel descriptors are: exploration hungry, price sensitivity, and cultural interest." (Reynolds, n.d)

This is definitely not a shock to me because that's when my parents were born and it seems about right. We are always moving around and going on trips, and when on those trips, we are very careful with our spending and we are always dragged out to museums and exhibitions. However, I do respect the fact that my parents don't go on those organised tours because that's just a drag.


Baby Boomers: "AARP reports that Baby Boomers (aged 50+) are active travelers, anticipating four or five trips in the next year. More than half of Baby Boomers report that they plan to travel exclusively in the U.S., and 42% plan on both domestic and international travel. Bucket List, summer vacation, and multi-generational trips are their most popular types of international trips, while multi-generational, summer vacations, and weekend getaways were their most popular types of domestic trips." (Reynolds, n.d)

This is so accurate! My grandparents did exactly that, and they went to so many countries last year. I think this also has to do with what I talked about in my psychology research about their age. Their kids and kids of kids are grown up, and their responsibilities are limited so they have more intellectual freedom to explore. Also I think the fact that they are old makes them a little scared of dying, so that makes it a catalyst for exploration. 


"1. The tour and activity industry: a multi-billion dollar market

  • In Europe, tours and activities account for around US$40 billion (WIT, 2016)
  • The tour and activity sector generated 37,000 million euro in Europe in 2015, tripling the total market size of car rental (10,000, million euro) and reaching almost half the total market for hotel reservations (80,000 million euro) (Phocuswright, 2016)
  • In the USA alone, there are approximately 67,000 businesses valued at US$20 billion in the tour and activity space. This makes it the third largest segment of the travel industry after air and accommodation (WIT, 2016)
  • Travellers are likely to spend more on sightseeing than on shopping, souvenirs and nightlife combined (TripBarometer, 2015)" (Fuggle, 2016)

These statistics are great to give me an idea of the size of the market I am about to go into. The sheer humungous numbers kind of scare me but I wasn't expecting anything lower. Above, it states that these are statistics for only tour and activity industry, which is insane. The fact that people spend more on sight-seeing makes me kind of happy.


 "3. It's a year for adventure and new experiences

  • 69% of global travellers - of all age groups - are planning to try something new in 2016 (TripBarometer, 2015)
  • 17% will try solo travel for the first time in 2016, and 15% will try adventure travel for the first time (TripBarometer, 2015)
  • Tourists in 2016 are looking for opportunities to explore lesser-known destinations, especially those that are untouched or unique (Virtuoso, 2016)
  • 1 in 5 global travellers have visited a destination because they saw it on a TV show (TripBarometer, 2015)
  • Just 31% of travellers book a trip based on their own past experiences (Skift Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016)"(Fuggle, 2016)

These statistics are really cool because it really reflects what I have been seeing around me and on social media. People don't want to look like tourists, so they try to blend in and do activities that a person in that country would do. 


"4. Treating ourselves is a priority when we travel

  • 1 in 3 travellers (33%) are planning to spend more on travel in 2016 than they did the previous year, and not just because of rising costs (TripBarometer, 2015)
  • The 5 most common things travellers are willing to spend more on as a treat: Sightseeing (53%), special dining experiences (41%), accommodation (41%), activities (35%) and shopping (24%) (TripBarometer, 2015)
  • Among those who plan to increase their travel budget in 2016, 49% said they will do so because “because I or my family deserve it”, while 31% said they would spend more on travel because “it’s important for my health and well-being” (TripBarometer, 2015). 
  • Like last year, "Sand & Sea" is the most appealing vacation type; "Mountains & Nature" is #2 this year (tied #2 with "Big city/Museums" last year) (Adobe, 2016)"(Fuggle, 2016)

 These are really funny statistics because I can definitely image them in real life. I think it's important to take time off, and that was my original idea; help people relax. But obviously that changed to adventure.


"8. Social media doesn't just mean Facebook

  • Social messaging will account for 2.5 billion global users by 2018, more than the 2 billion general social media users (Skift Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016)
  • Consumers are 44% more likely to learn about a new travel brand on Twitter than on the average social network (Twitter, 2014)
  • 39% of Twitter users access the platform mid-journey (Twitter, 2014)
  • 97% of millennials say they share pictures while travelling, especially on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Snapchat (Frederic Gonzalo, 2016)
  • 27% of Twitter users share positive travel experiences, creating positive buzz for the brands they mention (Twitter, 2014)
  • 5 out of 6 millennials will choose to connect with companies on social media, but want something in return (predominantly perks & discounts) (SDL, 2014
  • The number of Gen Zs using Facebook is on a steady decline while Instagram adoption continues climbing (Sparks & Honey, 2014)"(Fuggle, 2016) 

If I were to market my product, I would definitely hit social media first. I think it's a powerhouse for the industry and the stats above don't suprise me the least. It'll be even worst in the future. 


"9. Millennials are money poor, time rich

  • Millennials will represent the #1 consumer segment in the U.S. hotel industry by 2018, if not 2017 (Frederic Gonzalo, 2016)
  • Travellers ages 15 to 29 accounted for an estimated 23% of international travellers in 2015 (WYSE, 2016)
  • Young people are often money poor but time rich, which means that they can spend longer in a destination than a typical tourist. As a result, however, they end up spending up to two thirds more on average (WYSE, 2016)
  • 78% of millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience or event than buying something desirable (Harris/Eventbrite, 2014)
  • Young travellers are relatively intrepid and unlikely to be phased by economic problems, political unrest or epidemics. If there are fewer job openings, it can even encourage young people to travel or gain work experience abroad during a gap year (WYSE, 2016).
  • 6 out of 10 millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things (MMGY Global)" (Fuggle, 2016)

 That's exactly what I said at the top of this page. We have so much time as young adults, but the money we spend comes from our parents and grandparents. Also, that last fact makes me really happy.


"10. There's a growing health and wellness trend to cater for

  • An estimated 17 million travellers identify themselves as being 'health and wellbeing' focused, with 40% of them travelling regularly (HVS, 2014)
  • Wellness tourists spend 130% more than the average tourist (Body & Soul)" (Fuggle, 2016)

That last statistic is very, very impressive. I guess happiness bring money, and money brings happiness after all.


"Youth travelers ages 16 to 24 are another large but underserved market. They now represent more than 20% of all international visitors, according to a study by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Youth & Student Educational Travel Confederation(WYSETC). The study, cited in March 2007 by TravelMole, stated that "compared with average tourists, adventurous young backpackers stay longer, spend more, seek out alternative destinations and enjoy a wider mix of travel experiences." (Emarketer, 2007)

This is my age category, so I guess it's true. I use a backpack when I travel for practicality, and I think that other young people are strong enough to do the same. I think that however, it does not look at the demographic that cannot afford adventure. So I am thinking of creating a product that has more of a niche market. It would be best to focus on one category of people, for example young people in the city that want a little more adventure, but that can still afford (time and money) to go around and explore. I think that's the road I am going to take. 


"Over $700 billion was spent on travel in the US in 2006, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). Travel spending is expected to rise through 2009, but at decreasing annual rates. The TIA said the slowdown will come from the stabilization of travel prices, softer demand and a general slowdown in consumer spending." (Emarketer, 2007)

This chart is actually linked at the top of the page, and is very impressive. Since it dates back to 2009, we can't see how it progressed, but I know that the industry now is worth about $646 billion, so it came down a little bit. However, I don't know if that's adjusted to inflation, but it gives me an idea of the sheer size of the market. It also makes me a little nervous that I am going to be crushed by the huge powers if anything goes on sale.


Part II / IV

Japanese Inspiration

As a birthday present for my mother's 50th birthday, my family and I went on a 18 day long trip to Japan, South Korea. Throughout the trip, I was so fascinated by both cultures that I chose to include that in my project, especially the Japanese culture and how they interact with Nature. I decided that their ideology, and their respect towards Nature was so beautiful that I had to materialise it and incorporate it visually in my backpack. One way to do so was to look into the symbolism behind patterns. I looked into everyday life patters, flower patterns and kimono patterns.   

Our Trip Itinerary: 
On the 24th of March, we met up in Fukuoka, a very industrial city, and went down to Yakushima, stopping through Kumamoto. After exploring the Yakushima natural preserved island, we came back up to Fukuoka and took a ferry to Busan, South Korea. After that we took a train and spend the rest of the trip in Seoul. We also spent a whole day visiting the North Korean border, which was very nerve-wracking because of the recent tensions going on. We actually got to step over the border line from South Korea to North Korea, so that was really cool! About three days after we left North Korea, they attacked Japanese water with a very powerful bomb, so that was very close.

What I Learnt:
Going to the same country eight years apart turned out to be quite interesting. After coming back to my house in France after our trip in 2009, I was absolutely obsessed with Japan, and I feel like our recent trip has only made me more fascinated with their culture. I actually made, and maintained, a little miniature Japanese garden right next to the entrance of our old chalet, where I laid moss, sand and rocks to mimic what I had seen on the other side of the planet. Honestly, I think the same thing happened in 2017. When I saw the kimono hanging in the Japanese style house, I knew that was the material I wanted to use for my bag. The sheer detail of the patterns was so pleasing and intricate, I thought I needed to bring that into my project somehow.

"Flowers and Their Meanings"

Tsubaki (Camellia)

This flower blooms in spring, and it is usually used in traditional japanese patterns.

It stands for:

  • Humility
  • Discretion
  • The perfect love



Sumire (Violet)

This flower blooms in spring, and it is named after a carpenter's ink container. Sumi means ink, and Ire means container.

It stands for:

  • A small love
  • Sincerity
  • Small bliss

Momo (Peach)

This flower blooms in spring, and it was supposedly imported from China during the Yayoi period. You can eat the fruit which is really cool. 

It stands for:

  • I am your captive (which is a little weird)
  • Fascinating personality

Sakura (Japanese Cherry)

This flower blooms in spring, and it is the most well known around the world. It is also the Japanese national flower. The Japanese hold a yearly "Ohanami", which is a festival that celebrates spring and sakura.

It stands for:

  • Accomplishment
  • Beauty of the heart

Sakurasou (Primula sieboldii)

This flower blooms in spring, and it has a name that is a derivative of Sakura because it looks like it. They are very popular and come from the Edo period. 

It stands for:

  • Desire
  • Long-lasting love



Asagao (Morning Glory)

This flower blooms in summer, and it only blooms either in the morning or at dusk, when the weather is cooler. It came from the Heain period. 

It stands for:

  • Brief love
  • Bond of love

Kiku (Chrysanthemum)

This flower blooms in Autumn, and it is a symbol of Japan, just like the Sakura, even though it came form China.

It stands for:

  • Noble
  • Trust Me
  • Purity



Kinmokusei (Orange Osmanthus)

This flower blooms in Autumn, and it came to Japan from China during the Edo period. 

It stands for:

  • Truth
  • Noble person

Kosumosu (Cosmos)

This flower blooms in Autumn, and it came to Japan during the Edo period. It looks like a Sakura, so it technically means "Autumn Sakura" in Chinese. 

It stands for:

  • Maiden Japanese Heart
  • Cleanliness
  • Love



Ume (Japanese Apricot)

This flower blooms in winter, and it was brought back by Kensuishi, who was part of the diplomatic government during the Sui dynasty.  You can eat the fruit. 

It stands for:

  • Elegance
  • Faithfulness
  • Pure heart



"Everyday Motifs and Their Meanings"


"The iconic Japanese symbol is derived from the mythological goddess of the sun, Amaterasu from the Shinto religion. According to myth, the goddess founded Japan approximately 2700 years ago and all the emperors of Japan are known as “Sons of the Sun”, essentially direct descendants of the goddess herself. The design of the national flag reflects the central importance of the sun in Japanese tradition." (Aung, 2015)



"Primarily a symbol of purity, the lotus is revered in Japan for its ability to rise from the dirty muddy waters to bloom into a beautiful flower. Most commonly associated with the Buddhist achievement of enlightenment, it has been used as a very popular symbol of living your life to the fullest." (Aung, 2015)


Folding Fan

"Adopted from Chinese culture, the fan has come to signify a high social status and symbolize the journey of life. The small end essentially represents birth and the blades symbolizing the many paths possible in life’s journey. Historically, Japanese people of every age, gender and demographic have carried fans with many of them beautifully painted to tell stories or convey secret messages." (Aung, 2015)



"The Chrysanthemum is a symbol of endurance and rejuvenation. It was first introduced as a symbol by the Japanese Royal Family as an Imperial emblem during the Nara period. The flower is distinctly characterized by its 16 petals and is most commonly used for official Japanese Diet (government) seals. It has the distinct honor to be on the cover of the Japanese passport." (Aung, 2015)



"The Daruma is a traditional Japanese wishing doll and the symbol of achievement in Japan. It is an old tradition that is practiced till this day. When you receive a daruma doll, you pick a specific goal you are determined to achieve. You draw in one of the eyes to show your commitment to the goal. Afterwards, you place the doll in a visible area as a reminder of the task at hand. When you have achieved your goal, you draw in the other eye." (Aung, 2015)



"Since the Heian Period, the cherry blossom has been revered by the Japanese and closely associated with its philosophy of mono no aware. The flower’s brief blooming time and the fragility of the blossom has always been linked to an association with the transience of life and an appreciation for fleeting beauty." (Aung, 2015)



"In Japanese culture, butterflies carry a number of meanings but are most closely associated with the symbolism of metamorphosis and transformation. They are closely linked with recently departed spirits and consequently are represented in a number of traditional family crests." (Aung, 2015)



"Cranes are most commonly used to represent longevity and good fortune. Appropriately, they are found during the Japanese New Year and during wedding ceremonies in textile prints. Cranes have also found their way to prominence in the world of origami, where in Japanese culture to fold one thousand paper cranes makes a special wish come true." (Aung, 2015)



"The plum flower is one of the first blossoms to open during the year and has always been closely associated with the coming of spring. Unlike the cherry blossom, the plum has a strong sweet fragrance. Since the Heian period, they have been a symbol of refinement and purity, along with a reminder of former lovers." (Aung, 2015)



"At the center of Japanese mythology, is the goddess of the moon, Tsukiyomi. This powerful figure in early times has made the moon a common motif in Japanese arts and crafts. Up till the mid 19th century, Japan even followed the lunar calendar. The symbolic meaning of the moon is closely tied to the act of rejuvenation." (Aung, 2015)



"According to Japanese legend, if a Koi fish succeeded to swim upstream and climb the waterfalls at a point called Dragon Gate on the Yellow River, it would transform into a Dragon. Based on this legend, it became a symbol of aspiration and perseverance." (Aung, 2015)


"Kimono Patterns and Their Meanings"

Kikyo (Bellflower)

This flower has five petals and is usually white.

It stands for:

  • Unchanging love
  • Honesty 
  • Obedience

Sakura (Cherry Blossom)

This flower can be recognised with its distinctive notched petals, but it blooms very quickly and is extremely fragile.

It stands for:

  • New beginnings 
  • Renewal
  • Beauty
  • The transience of life

Kakitsubata (iris)

There is a story about a man who missed his wife in Kyoto so much that he wrote her an acronym with the letters Ka-Ki-Tsu-Ba-Ta as the start. It is called "the tale of ise". 

It stands for:

  • Protection from evil
  • Safety

Botan (Peony)

This flower is well known as "the king of flowers".

It stands for:

  • Good Fortune
  • Wealth
  • High Honour 
  • Nobility
  • Ageless Beauty

Matsu (Pine Trees)

This tree is closely associated with winter, and is sometimes shown with the pine bark as a diamond pattern.

It stands for:

  • Longevity
  • Steadfastness
  • Wisdom in age

Kiri (Paulownia Tree)

This flower is a foxglove-like fast growing tree that has purple flowers. It is the only tree that the Phoenix will stand on and the wood is used to create dowry articles when the baby girl is born. It is a national symbol that can be seen in a lot of family crests.

It stands for:

  • A baby girl's birth

Ume (Plum Blossom)

This flower is the first to bloom during the spring. It is also a protective energy against all kind of evil, and can be recognised with its rounded petals. 

It stands for:

  • Flower of peace
  • Longevity
  • Renewal
  • Perseverance

Fuji (Wisteria)

This flower is often used in family crests, or also known as Kamon.

It stands for:

  • Simply love

Kiku (chrysanthemum)

This flower is an auspicious symbol used in the imperial seal of Japan, and represents autumn. It is also celebrated during the Kiku-no-sekku festival on the 9th day of the 9th month.

It stands for:

  • Regal beauty
  • Rejuvenation
  • Longevity

Part III / IV

Anatomy Of The Back

I realised recently that it is crucial to understand the anatomy of the back to create a bag that is not abrasive against its users. Obviously I am no scientist, and I don't have months to do some biological research and conduct studies to test different bags on different people, although that would be very cool, but I wanted to research a little bit about what the biggest concerns are for the human back and the human spine. 

I looked online at different websites, which are all in my bibliography, about what the biggest causes of back pain are. I also looked at the distribution of weight throughout the spine, and which areas are most prone to injury. Because of the sheer volume of information that was available, I chose to copy and paste little bits and pieces of the articles, and annotate them in the highlighted text underneath.

I also looked at the way posture affects your back and your spine, and how in turn, that would affect the position of the backpack. Those drawings are all in my sketchbook.


The Spine

The cervical spine (neck) 

"The neck supports the weight of the head and protects the nerves that come from the brain to the rest of the body. This section of the spine has seven vertebral bodies (bones) that get smaller as they get closer to the base of the skull. Most of the rotation of the cervical spine comes from the top two segments whereas most of the flexion/extension movement comes from C5-C6 and C6-C7 (each motion segment is named by the two vertebral bodies that are connected)." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"Acute neck pain is most often caused by a muscle, ligament or tendon strain (such as from a sudden force or straining the neck), and will usually heal with time and non-surgical treatments to alleviate the neck pain (such as ice and/or heat, medications, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, etc)." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"For patients with neck pain that lasts longer than two weeks to three months, or with mainly arm pain, numbness or tingling, there is often a specific anatomic problem. For example, pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers, is usually caused by a cervical herniated disc or foraminal stenosis pinching a nerve in the neck. Treatment options for neck pain will differ depending on the specific diagnosis." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

The thoracic spine (upper back) 
"The 12 vertebral bodies in the upper back make up the thoracic spine. The firm attachment of the rib cage at each level of the thoracic spine provides stability and structural support to the upper back and allows very little motion. The thoracic spine is basically a strong cage and it is designed to protect the vital organs of the heart and lungs." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"The upper back is not designed for motion, and subsequently, injuries to the thoracic spine are rare. However, irritation of the large back and shoulder muscles or joint dysfunction in the upper back can produce very noticeable back pain." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

The lumbar spine (lower back)
"The lower back has a lot more motion than the thoracic spine and also carries all the weight of the torso, making it the most frequently injured area of the spine." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"The vast majority of episodes of lower back pain are caused by muscle strain. Even though a muscle strain doesn't sound like a serious injury, trauma to the muscles and other soft tissues (ligaments, tendons) in the lower back can cause severe back pain. The good news is that soft tissues have a good blood supply, which brings nutrients to the injured area, facilitates the healing process and often provides effective relief of the back pain." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

The sacral region (bottom of the spine)
"Below the lumbar spine is a bone called the sacrum, which makes up the back part of the pelvis. This bone is shaped like a triangle that fits between the two halves of the pelvis, connecting the spine to the lower half of the body." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"The sacrum is connected to part of the pelvis (the iliac bones) by the sacroiliac joints. Pain in the sacrum is often called sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and is more common in women than men. The coccyx - or the tailbone - is in the sacral region at the very bottom of the spine. Tailbone pain is called coccydynia, which is more common in women than men." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)


Back Muscles

Lower Back Motion and Back Pain

"Fifty percent of flexion (bending forward) occurs at the hips, and fifty percent occurs at the lumbar spine (lower back). The motion is divided between the five motion segments in the lower back, although a disproportionate amount of the motion is at L4-L5 (lumbar segment 4 and 5) and L3-L4 (lumbar segment 3 and 4)." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"Consequently, these two segments of the lower back are the most likely to break down with degeneration. As these segments break down they can become unstable with an excess of motion creating lower back pain. There are a number of non-surgical treatments available to help manage the low back pain, and a surgical fusion can help alleviate the back pain by stopping the motion." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)


Extensor, Flexor and Oblique Muscles and Back Pain

Three types of back muscles that help the spine function are extensors, flexors and obliques.

  • "The extensor muscles are attached to the posterior (back) of the spine and enable standing and lifting objects. These muscles include the large paired muscles in the lower back (erector spinae), which help hold up the spine, and gluteal muscles." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

  • "The flexor muscles are attached to the anterior (front) of the spine (which includes the abdominal muscles) and enable flexing, bending forward, lifting, and arching the lower back." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

  • "The oblique muscles are attached to the sides of the spine and help rotate the spine and maintain proper posture." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)



Relationship Among Muscles, Posture, and Low Back Pain

"Muscle strength and flexibility are essential to maintaining the neutral spine position. Weak abdominal muscles cause hip flexor muscles to tighten causing an increase in the curve of the low back." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"An unhealthy posture results when the curve is overextended called lordosis or swayback. Proper posture corrects muscle imbalances that can lead to low back pain by evenly distributing weight throughout the spine." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)



Function of the Back Muscles

"The back anatomy includes the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, erector spinae, rhomboid, and the teres major. There are several individual muscles within the back anatomy, and it’s important to take a quick look at all of them to see how you can target them effectively and develop a solid back." (Alex, 2012)

"The back anatomy includes some of the most massive and functionally important muscles in the human body. Still, many individuals pay far too little attention to them." (Alex, 2012)

"The back muscles enable you to stand up straight; support and protect your spine; and reach, pull and extend your arms and torso." (Alex, 2012)

"Poorly developed back muscles lead to everything from muscle tweaks and pulls to imbalances of the musculature to the all-too-common hunched-over look (the “Neanderthal look”). All of these things can lead to long term back pain (and chronic complaining!)." (Alex, 2012)


Part IV / IV

Environmental Issues

I was born and raised in the Southern Alps, and spent my childhood in the trees. Inevitably, I moved to Dubai and then London, two of the two biggest cities in the world. Don't get me wrong, living in a city is a lot of fun, but I do miss the wilderness that I grew up in. For research week, I went to Briançon with Sondos and Samantha to my grandparents house to ski. Spending a week in the snow, the mountains and the trees made me really want to create a product that is environmentally friendly.

Recently I have been watching a lot of documentaries on social and environmental issues (they are all properly cited on my bibliography page). Those documentaries brought back those longing feelings I had for nature, and inspired me to bring forward environmental issues in my project. I think that it is important for us to be conscious about how our actions are affecting the environment. I am not a "tree-hugger", and frankly never will be, but I understand that we need to limit the damages done to our ecosystems. I just wanted to document my personal research below on the problems we face, how they came about and how we can potentially fix them (even though most are irrevocable). 

I found a list of the 10 biggest problems that are currently harming our ecosystems all over the world. It is taken from an article in "The Planet Earth Herald".

1. Overpopulation

The earth's population has tripled in the last 60 years, and the numbers' projection is just going higher.


2. Climate Change

We have passed the tipping point. Now, we can just regulate how everything is managed, and we can diminish our actions but we physically cannot reverse the damage.


3. Loss Of Biodiversity 

Also know as the "Sixth Extinction", we are having a  huge knowck-on-effect on the food and survival chains around the world. When one species dies, and they are at alarming rates, the whole chain is affected. 


4. Phosphorus and Nitrogen Cycles

The Phosphorus and Nitrogen cycles and greatly being affected by our actions. Just like the biodiversity food chains, we have a negative "knock-on-effect" on them.


5. Water

In 2015, 2/5 humans will not have access to clean water. Today that number is 1/3. Water will also turn into a commodity, and become more and more valuable like gold or oil.


6. Ocean Acidification

The ocean acidity has already increased by 30% and is projected to be up by 150% in 2100. This means that the slightest change in acidity kills hundreds of species, because they cannot adapt to the water.


7. Pollution

Because we can't properly care about something we don't see, pollution has had an "unseen" effect on us. There are now a number of enormous, enormous, plastic islands all over the sea that are way too big and way too tangled for us to physically remove them.


8. Ozone Layer Depletion

One chlorine molecule released in the air kills 100,000 ozone layer molecules. 100,00!


9. Over-fishing

Now this fact completely blew me away. In 2050, there will be no more fish in the sea. No more! Of course, that is is we continue to fish with no regulations like we do now, but that is insane!


10. Deforestation

Since 1990, half of the world's forests have been chopped down and used. Trees are dying at an alarming rate, and that's just sad.



dept of eduCU
29 April 2017, 6:58 AM
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