Brooklyn – Although the first isolation tank was developed in 1954, by Dr John C Lilly at the National Institute of Mental Health, the sensory-deprivation device wasn’t widely used until 1972. Float therapy has become increasingly popular in the US in recent years. According to the BBC, that’s down to the power of celebrity endorsement. ‘Many users have heard about floating through the podcasts of Joe Rogan, an American comedian, sports commentator and floating enthusiast,’ states an article in the BBC’s magazine section. ‘Rogan's hugely popular podcasts have almost single-handedly popularized floating in the US, where there are now over 300 floating facilities. The world's first 24-hour float centre recently opened in Portland, Oregon.’
And now the east coast of the US welcomes its largest flotation spa, Vessel Floats. Designed by Arnold Studio, the Brooklyn-based spa takes a new approach to sensory deprivation and float therapy. ‘Today, sensory deprivation and float therapy has evolved into a means of accessing a deeper state of rest and separation from an increasingly urban-centric world of sensory overload,’ says a spokesperson for the studio. ‘As such, float therapy can be a vehicle for meditation, a therapy tool to release pressure from injured joints, or a user-designed visual and auditory experience that provides an escape from the ordinary.’
Instead of focusing solely on the act of floating, Vessel Floats breaks down the process to include what happens before and after. Arnold Studio looked at the concept of transition between states of environmental stimulus to prepare the guest for isolation. When visitors move through the space, they experience a structured gradual ‘peeling away’ of external light and sound. Afterwards, sensory stimuli are gradually reintroduced.
The concept finds form as a sequence of spaces along a circular path. Marking the journey’s midpoint are the float rooms themselves: compact, intimate spaces whose stone surfaces mimic the tactility of a real-life rockpool. ‘The natural striations of the stone impart a subtle touch sensation and visual texture which is enhanced by the singular nature of the material’s use.’