In today’s tech-obsessed world, there are new technological advancements quite literally every day. Technology is quickly changing the design needs and wants of our global population and, as such, is infiltrating design in many ways – even in events once considered truly analog.
Primary design weeks around the globe are now showcasing incredible designs that play with technology to create interactive and immersive products and spaces.
The past few years have seen megabrands like Nike and BMW pitch their tents at design fairs – and with that came significant attention. Behemoth corporations have historically felt like outsiders, and their participation seemed salesy. This year, it’s technology’s turn. There’s a difference now though: Technology brands, for the most part, have been welcomed with open arms.
Across multiple design weeks and fairs, technology is changing the expectation of design showcases, and, ultimately, providing new solutions for cutting-edge design. “Milan offers a great place to start a conversation with the global creative audience,” says, Oke Hauser, creative lead of Mini Living, about his company’s participation in the annual design fair.
“After all, design is what makes our world human – the combination of function and beauty, practicality and aesthetics, elevating our senses and creating pure moments of joy.” Hauser clearly wasn’t alone in that feeling; here’s how other design weeks have embraced technology this year.
Stockholm Design Week
February’s Stockholm Design Week featured a partnership between the smart lightbulb company Philips and Ames Studio. Dubbed “The Light House,” it combined lighting design with information media to create a 360-degree perspective wherein four LED TV doors transported visitors to various locations. The exhibit was spread out between several installations in the city with the goal of creating a dialogue on how light and information will work in the future.
“At first you see this simple house structure, representing the early stage of the design process,” explains Ames Studio creative director Amanda Ames. “Then the doors transport the visitor to different locations during the week. One door would be a gate to see our Swedish light phenomenon up north, another would be the location of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, a third a showroom, and so forth. By playing with perspective, we could extend the space with no limit.”
“The Light House” aimed to transport visitors to various locations via technology.
For Ames and her team, such a high-tech approach offered a way to interact with designers and passerby alike. “We started approaching the brief with the need to create a public space that worked as an open invitation,” says Ames.”Design Weeks around the world have often two audiences, the public eye and the inner circle. Here we wanted to welcome everyone to take part in the week and all its happenings, but also step into a space that invited interaction and enlightenment.”
Artist Kiki van Eijk with a rendering of a wall hanging she created for Google’s “Softwear” installation at Milan Design Week.
Milan Design Week
Google’s exhibition, “Softwear,” dominated headlines back in April. But Google wasn’t the only technology-focused brand to debut exhibitions at Milan’s most technologically advanced Design Week ever. Some other standouts included “My First Me,” an exhibition of interactive installations at Issey Miyake’s flagship store, and “Hidden Senses” by Sony, which explored minimal ways of communicating with tech from a partition that changes the ambiance of a space to a dancing floor light that responds to movement. Another standout was an exhibition called “Breath/ng” by Kengo Kuma and Associates, which used a unique pollution-neutralizing fabric to create an interactive installation that cleans the air through its design.
London Festival of Architecture
The “G-trainer Installation” was an exciting collaboration between the London Festival of Architecture and G-SMATT Europe. The temporary installation used the latest technological innovations in “smart glass” to create interactive video media that displayed different visual effects while being able to see through the partition. Smart glass is made from an electrochromic glass material to develop intelligent windows.
San Francisco Design Week
There were over 35 events that focused on the integration of design and technology at San Francisco Design Week this year. From big brands to big ideas, they showcased how technology is a necessary aspect of our current design needs. Each breakout session advocated that it’s the job of good design to make advanced technology both approachable and readily usable for the everyday consumer.
London Design Festival
The London Design Festival – kicking off September 15 – promises quite a few exhibitions that explore how to use technology to better understand our world. One leading example is Keiichi Matsuda’s “Prism.” The exhibition will present an alternative view of London by exposing unseen data flows on screens suspended in the air. It explores the critical theme that is our relationship with data and how that relationship creates complex issues both culturally and morally.