I stepped into the private space, the size of a small library, inside the hypercongested Vancouver Convention Centre and placed the little "orb" I'd been given, a white weighted ping-pong ball of sorts, onto a pedestal. Then I sat down in the intricate chamber of mirrors, one hand on each of the spacious chair's arms, as music began rising softly around me, while white and purple lights started flashing and subsiding on every side of me.
TED, Delta inspired by Iyer's 'Stillness'
If an airline had to reduce its essence to one word, "movement" might be a frontrunner. How then did Delta Airlines decide to use "stillness" as the central theme of what it called a "brand activation" at TED, attended by 1,500 of the world's most influential people? Read More
Outside, I could see the still blue waters of Coal Harbour, green hills climbing up to the sky behind them; inside, I could feel the soothing effects of light and sound. By the time I got up, only 90 seconds later, I'd enjoyed a trip of a lifetime, as if I'd traveled across the universe without getting up from my chair. Yet that little white orb, measuring my heartbeat, showed I was quantifiably calmer than I'd been just two minutes before.
The peace I felt in that room was doubly strange because I was in the middle of the annual TED conference, an exhilarating whirlwind of lectures, conversations and presentations from the likes of Bill Gates and Al Gore and the co-founder of Twitter; it felt like being inside a jam-packed airport filled with the world's most high-flying souls.
But the experiential marketing agency MKG had constructed this extraordinary installation for Delta Airlines to remind us how, in a world of movement, nothing can be more urgent, more luxurious, than sitting still. Even more surprising, this state-of-the-art museum piece, offering a minute-and-a-half of stillness in a world of motion (and commotion), had been inspired by a small book I'd just published on how travel can give us sights, but it's only being still that turns those into insights.