SymbiosisO, NYU / Estonian Academy of Art
We enjoyed the use of the slices, which transform themselves in a material that originally has much more rigid uses and aspects which are finally proposed. There exists an apparent simplicity to the project followed with a technical knowledge of the use of the material which grants it malleability in order to adapt to different shapes and territories, conforming itself into an organic and manageable product which transforms according to its own use.
Even though, in reality, it could be included in the furniture segment, the project blends in a successful manner a resolved binomial functionality and aesthetic, promoting a “slow/soft technology” and incites new spaces conformed by the symbiotic skin which accomplished its role of object/space/material.
SymbiosisO is a collection of textile interfaces. The soft material behaves as an organic display, members of the collection react on definable impulses and response with a change in color. SymbiosisS (“S” for Seat) invites people to rest on the soft-folded fabric with an active, slowly shifting pattern. The pattern starts forming on the surface of the material in a playful way where the textile is touched. Once the disturbance is abated the pattern continues its peaceful expansion. SymbiosisS is an active, programmable secondary skin to surround everyday objects, offering an ambient, “noiseless” way to visualize information and form space.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Display systems integrated into everyday objects are gaining popularity as an alternative to intrusive and interrupting media screens. We design organic displays based on hybrid material compositions and present possible human-computer interaction through soft material interfaces.
SymbiosisS can be constructed with various inputs and output patterns. We can personalize its vocabulary by connecting the appearing and disappearing patterns with meaningful information (for example “draw out circles” when we have an important todo). On the other hand, we can also let the patterns be exposed and control the patches one-by-one or let them evolve in an organic way.
Depending on the hosting environment and the required function, SymbiosisS is easily configurable and modular.
In the urban environment, spaces dedicated for waiting can be defined as in-between time-spaces with activities which otherwise in a daily rhythm would never develop. Waiting areas ideally are meant to be relaxing spaces with calming visual control of the surroundings, rather than fulfilled with commercial and vibrating LCD screens. SymbiosisS is an initiative for display systems that mediate and engage at the same time.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The collection of SymbiosisO can also be classified as future concepts, investigating the possibilities to use active and interactive textiles in the living environment or as models for bigger scale surfaces and textures in architecture. Large-scale prototypes is a method to achieve an understanding of how materials will behave and express itself in time. There are different methods for designing structures, materials or forms that are able to behave and therefore are more complex than traditional textile design objects.
Introducing new forms of interactions is always challenging. People are usually not used to touch artworks nor create pattern on the medium. Suddenly, from a passive listener ones become an important part of the design and an important part of the interior. It is an exciting feeling that one not only receives something from the space but leaves a trace, a unique touch behind.
To emphasize again, our intent is to introduce slow, meditative technology and to reduce digital noise.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
SymbiosisS is a member of the SymbiosisO collection, an iteration, but a well-defined outcome of a continuously evolving research project. The design process started by observing and analyzing movements, structures, patterns and actions in the secondary layers (moorland, leeches etc.) of nature. Series of sketches for new types of displays were discussed and prototyped. As a result, we developed distinct aesthetics integrated with unique functionality and technology.
The production of SymbiosisS involves both handicraft and specialized digital fabrication. For the construction we combine rather traditional textiles with soft electronics. Electronics that activate heat sensitive coating layer and flexible sensors are embedded into the soft structure. Felt is chosen as a substrate due to its exceptional material properties (sound isolation, heat preservation, biodegradability etc.). All together it is a weave of modern technology and the knowledge about textile making techniques, even crafts. In this way we give a new function to materials with static patterns or surfaces. It becomes active, as if breathing various pattern combinations in a slow, calming rhythm. The technology and materials we are using support our understanding of slow organic displays. Modularity is an important value of each member of SymbiosisO, adding a possibility to go wild with the placement.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Our concept in first place was a tribute to the ultimate power of evolution, where not only the human civilization impacts the environment, but nature itself reacts and adapts to these changes. With SymbiosisO our objective is to develop organic, cutting edge objects that brings the natural rhythms back to the cityscape.
In urban society we are used to fast paced changes manifested through technology; we require rapid information flow to be engaged. We expect to see digital interfaces in every aspect of our life and in every object we encounter. Yet we are already aware of the fact that we cannot perceive the abundant data and our life is overwhelming. Indeed, contemporary culture is looking to rediscover older, slower techniques and practices such as organic foods, meditation and environmental awareness. SymbiosisO is visionary in the way it combines novel techniques and familiar technologies, introducing intuitive interaction by utilizing well known fabrics and objects. We present a new level of engagement; SymbiosisS is playful, interactive and unexpected but without the demand of our full attention. We encourage ambient interfaces and fluid communication aiming to balance the pace of our lives.