Light for peace

Ayse Birsel and Hiroko Sakomura organised the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace event in New York recently, spreading a message about peace and harmony.

Lantern floating is a symbolic tradition in which participants float lanterns on water to honour peacemakers and to focus on peace.

Ayse Birsel and the celebrated producer/curator Hiroko Sakomura organised the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace event in New York City on Sunday 22 September 2013.

The tradition also carries with it a message of hope for a harmonious and peaceful world.

People were invited to assemble the paper lanterns designed by Birsel for this New York City event.

The event which took place in Central Park, and was open to the public, showed people how to make the lanterns and float them on the water. There was also an exercise from Birsel’s Design the life you love programme that inspired people about peace. 

Here is Ayse Birsel's report on the event: 

"Shinnyo Peace lanterns are inspired by the New York City skyline – seven lanterns each representing a typical New York building, the Empire State Building, Citicorp, ConEd and the three different sized rectangular prisms representing brownstones, midsize and skyscrapers of New York.

Each lantern shares the same wood base and has a little LED for light, a modern twist on a centuries-old idea.

On Sunday (22 September 2013) there were hundreds of lanterns floating in the pond at the Wollman Trump Rink at Central Park that was specially created for the event, with hundreds of peace messages written on them.

Together they represented the diverse people of New York who live together in this city, people of different colours, languages, politics and beliefs who participated in the event with the hope for a more peaceful world.

Originally when Hiroko Sakomura, my friend and partner on this project, started the project my first idea was to create lanterns that would represent New York. A strong, simple and contemporary idea that everyone can immediately associate with New York City. But on Sunday, with all the peace messages on them, the lanterns took on a very different meaning. They became shared symbols of peace and hope. The messages from children were especially touching and meaningful in there simplicity and directness. I couldn't help but think that they had a better idea of peace we did as adults." 

Watch the Talk with Birsel + Seck

More on Design Thinking