Mia Cinelli's weighted blanket is designed to help grieving

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Mia Cinelli's limb-like weighted blanket is designed to ease feelings of grief

Following the death of a loved one, American artist and designer Mia Cinelli created this "weighted comfort object" that could simulate the feeling of being hugged.

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

Mia Cinelli realised she missed the embraces she received from her fiancé's father, so designed The Weight to help remind her of him.

"My fiancé's father was a man who showed his love in physical ways – kisses and bear-hugs were a common greeting," she told Dezeen.

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

The Weight is a six-pound hand-quilted fleece blanket filled with poly-pellets, that has arms and hands attached to either side, enabling it to wrap around the user's body and entwine with their fingers.

Weighted blankets are already used in occupational therapy to relieve the stress, anxiety and lack of focus often associated with Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Sensory Processing Disorder. The feeling of pressure on the body created by the blanket is believed to create a relaxing effect. Adding hands was Cinelli's idea.

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

"When he passed away, I was left with a void of where his large personality had been," Cinelli said. "I wanted to feel his presence, so I made a hand to hold."

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

Despite initial scepticism, Cinelli's fiancé was eventually convinced. "I'd bring rice-filled prototypes into our living room, drape them around him and ask him how he felt while he was wearing them and after he took them off," said the designer.

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

"Its use imitates an intimate gesture, reminiscent of a hug from behind," Cinelli added. "When you feel relaxed and take the weight off, you feel lighter – both physically and in spirit."

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

The designer admits the project might be disconcerting for some: "I have seen it tagged as #creepy online, and the hands are a bit odd. When I finished it, I couldn't tell if it was too weird or just right, but I think all of my best work falls into that area."

The Weight is currently a hand-made prototype and is being exhibited while Cinelli contemplates its future.

The Weight by Mia Cinelli

"I needed to make it for me first, and now I need to figure out who to make it for next," she said.

"Is it a custom-made cultural object kept by grieving loved ones? Does it become standard equipment of funeral home directors? Is it an elite object of comfort intertwined with high fashion, or is it sold next to heating pads in pharmacies?"

Cinelli's previous projects include The Loop, an 18-foot circular tube pillow designed to provide company for lone sleepers.