How would you describe your approach to design and your design sensibilities?
I’m interested in unpicking the social, economic and aesthetic dimensions of current and near-future technologies through design. By developing confrontational prototypes, experimental products and interactive installations that are subtly disruptive, I aim to instigate reflection on the processes, systems and values that underpin our technology rich environment.
It’s about trying to imagine, generate and test alternative ways of doing, seeing and understanding beyond what’s probable in the future. By making these alternatives tangible it allows us to collectively discuss their preferability in relation to what’s already there. It helps us gain insight into what we really desire or expect from the technologies we surround ourselves with daily – and how we might get there.
What materials do you like to work with and what do they contribute to your aesthetic?
I like to work with a wide variety of materials and techniques influenced by the ambitions and scope of the project. A lot of my projects operate on the borders between digital and physical space and involve at least some electronics or mechatronics.
How do you look at technologies and their sociopolitical implications to make future design solutions tangible?
My projects start with researching and deconstructing current cultural trends and technological developments, and speculating on their potential trajectories and implications. I collaborate with experts and scientists, explore the balance between science-facts and science-fictions and try to find ways to suspend disbelief.
I try to identify elements that could be implemented practically and therefore prototyped and tested. Creating semi-functional artifacts helps me understand plausible pathways for production and adoption.
What have you gained from working with Swarovski experts and how has it inspired you?
The source of Swarovski’s success is easy to understand and essentially remains unchanged. It’s very hard to resist the appeal of a Swarovski crystal when it’s catching and refracting the light right before your eyes. It provides an almost visceral spectacle that is hard to capture through photography or video. It allows the magic to persist even in a time of ubiquitous screens where we can conjure alternate realities at the push of a button.
What brief were you given for this project and how are you responding to it?
We were invited to respond to the theme of ‘smart living’, investigating how Swarovski crystal could provide opportunities to make the way we connect with others and our environment more interactive, sustainable, immersive or accessible.
My proposal seeks to interface Swarovski crystal with neurobiology, neuropsychology and psycho-activation techniques to identify possible strategies that could help people cope with the cognitive demands of modern life. The aim is to create a notion of 'smartness' that provides a more holistic vision of well-being and goes beyond the automated dream of making our lives more streamlined and efficient.
With ever more connected technologies blurring the boundaries between our professional, social and domestic spheres, the number of people experiencing cognitive and emotional conditions like insomnia, depression, stress and anxiety is growing. When contemplating an increasingly diffuse technological landscape, we may also need to consider designing alternative ways to relax.
Building on the work of artists from the 50s and 60s -- like Brion Gysin, Tony Conrad, Bernard Leitner and Ugo la Pietra -- the project attempts to create an immersive crystal 'dream machine'. By generating light and sound patterns that synchronize with alpha and theta brainwaves, the machine would allow individuals to enter a state of deep relaxation or ‘artificial dreaming’. It’s tapping into the notion of creating profoundly individual experiences that can't be easily captured or converted to other media. I like the idea of it being a type of immersive 'inside out chandelier'.
This award celebrates forward-looking designers. What excites you about working as a designer at this moment in time, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead?
Technology today advances very rapidly and sometimes without much consideration or critical thought on how it can be meaningfully implemented in our lives. I believe design can be an excellent sense-making tool amidst these developments and I’m excited by exploring ways for it to do so.