Exhibited at Design Miami/Basel 2018, the bold creations of the three winners of the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award explore how craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology and visionary design can exploit the scientific and aesthetic properties of crystal to respond to the contemporary need for smart living.
1. Dream Machine
Frank Kolkman, an experimental Dutch designer specialising in robotic technology, used neuroscience and crystal technology to develop “Dream Machine”, a stroboscopic flicker device that produces visual stimuli. By generating light and sound patterns that synchronise with alpha and theta brainwaves, this machine allows individuals to enter a state of deep relaxation or “artificial dreaming”.
This project is an attempt to identify strategies that could help people to cope with the cognitive demands of modern lives, and responds to the trends of wellness and wellbeing, preventative care and alternative medicine, where achieving a healthy body and mind has become a major focus in the contemporary world.
“Technology today advances very rapidly and sometimes without much consideration or critical thought about 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,” says Kolkman.
2. Slanted Tiles
Study O Portable, a research-based Dutch-Japanese practice, built on an interest in creating objects that give new perspectives on everyday things, by designing a series of architectural surfaces that explores the more analogue and emotional properties of crystal and light.
The designers explored the blurring light and colour that emanate from the crystals, which they associate with nature, such as the sunset or changing colours of leaves on a tree. Embracing the emotional impact of these crystals, they have created a series of surfaces that can be translated into a series of stunning screens.
“It’s been really interesting to talk to the team and learn new things about the material, processes and applications of Swarovski crystal. To work directly with set materials and processes is a different way of working for us which has been really enjoyable,” comment Bernadette Deddens and Tetsuo Mukai of Study O Portable.
3. Home Shrine
Yosuke Ushigome of Takram, a Japanese technologist specialising in emerging innovations, aimed to personalise the relationship between man and technology by exploring the future of artificial intelligence (AI) in domestic settings.
He investigates the result of inserting a more cultural and mythical interface between people and these assistants, since interaction with voice-activated assistants and smart-home devices is shaping the way we, and especially children, communicate.
His concept imagines a world where Swarovski crystal takes the role of a cultural mediator between human and machine intelligence by inserting ritualistic, culturally-rich, yet intrinsically familiar interactions between the two.
Ushigome’s home shrine creation delivers data in an eccentrically conversational and ritualistic way, intended to counteract the direct, robotic exchange typical of most smart-home devices. The home shrine also calls to attention how we integrate technology into our homes and what these methods symbolise.
“The future is full of tough problems when it comes to our relationship with technology. Designers get to work with emerging technologies before they get embedded deep in our culture, and this can play a tremendous role in shaping our future and imagination,” says Ushigome.
Promoting emerging designers
Swarovski has contributed to the Design Miami programme over the last decade. “Our ongoing collaboration with Swarovski continues to uncover emerging talents that are expanding the limits of design,” says Rodman Primack, chief creative officer of Design Miami. “This year’s award winners have brought to the table unconventional ideas that demonstrate both how design is evolving in a technological era and how it can connect us more closely to each other and our environment.”
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Design Miami/Basel and Swarovski for the information given to write this article.
Photos courtesy of Swarovski photographer, Mark Cocksedge
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