In theory

Multisensory Experiences


Pushing beyond our everyday notions of technology, more and more designers and researchers are working to design multisensory experiences that allow the user to not just see, but feel. One such example is ‘sensory fiction,’ a new wearable device and book cover MIT researchers have developed to customize the reading experience to the individual. The innovative apparatus has the ability to change the user’s heart rate causing temperature changes and other physical sensations. The book’s cover is outfitted with 150 programmable LEDs that create ambient light based on the plot’s mood and setting. In another wearable experiment, Sensoree created a sweater that projects your mood as a light show. Without a word from the wearer, the sweater can communicate a range of emotions – from tranquility (green) to excitement (purple).

Image via Designboom

Global & Local Innovation


Using data gathered from 2013, Cornell University, INSTEAD and WIPO recently released the Global Innovation Index. The full report is available online, with Switzerland holding the highest ranking and United States re-entering the top five this year.  An article offering a cross-country perspective about the challenges between global and local innovation, discusses the vast differences between the needs of established and emerging markets, and the theory of “reverse innovation“. (image of Global Center for Health Innovation via Ted Eytan)

Bookshelf: What We’re Reading


To begin the New Year on an ambitious note, we thought to share some inspiring literature on leadership. Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us explores how the internet age is changing the way we come together and connect as a group. Social media, blogs, and other products of the technological age make it easier than ever for diverse tribes to gather around a political cause or environmental initiative. The book poses the question “Who is going to lead all these tribes?” and encourages everyone to take a stand and seize the opportunity to lead. Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life offers 12 practices for infusing creativity into all human endeavors. The authors, a psychotherapist and a philharmonic conductor, interweave their unique perspectives and professional experiences into stories that draw out the inspired person in all of us. A critical success, Thinking, Fast and Slow written by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner in economic science, leads the reader on a tour through the mind explaining the two systems that drive the way we think. The hope being that if we understand the origins of our intuition and impulses, we can avoid the pitfalls and “mental glitches” that lead us astray.

Image via Designboom

Bookshelf: What We’re Reading


Next up in our Bookshelf’s holiday series, are books for graphic design enthusiasts. Beginning with the fundamentals, pick up Paul Rand’s Design, Form, and Chaos and learn the trade from a graphic design icon. Musing on his craft, Rand explains how to develop process, intuition, and an aesthetic sense demonstrating the core of great design– the synthesis of beauty and utility. Another essential design text, Bruno Manari’s Design as Art, communicates a zen-like mindset and passion for merging art and life. His advice to “subtract instead of add” resonates as much today as it did forty years ago. And for eye candy, Marian Bantjes’s new monograph Marian Bantjes Pretty Pictures is an explosion of graphic work from the last decade. Bantjes’s visuals have been aptly described as “maximalist” calling to mind the Art Nouveau dreamscapes of Alfons Mucha.

Looking for more gift ideas? Designers & Books have put together a stellar book list for their Holiday Gift Guide.

Immaterial Blooms


Flowers that don’t necessitate water or sunlight? Digital artist and interaction designer, Daniel Brown, grows flowers from bundles of code. His roses, orchids, and immaterial blooms are computer-crafted creations generated by the manipulation of digital plant genomes. These fantastical flowers grow on screen in real-time, documented by a camera run via matrix manipulation. Brown’s visionary designs have been commissioned by Art Fund’s RENEW program at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum and the BBC Climate Change website.

Innovative Objects


Technology is increasingly changing the way artists and designers fabricate objects. Experimental Chilean design studio, Great Things to People, have developed the Catenary Pottery Printer (CPP) an apparatus that creates artful porcelain objects from a catenary mould made of fabric. Combining traditional materials and artisanal methods with parametric design, the studio seamlessly combines innovation and craft. Mad Museum’s current show Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital explores similar advanced methods of production and 3D printing. The exhibit seeks to expose the evolving role of digital design in our daily lives and presents a broad range of inventive objects including jewelry, lighting, sculpture, gowns, and prosthetics all created with advanced technology.

Sustainable Practices


The Economist Intelligence Unit has launched a new competition that asks a wide array of citizens– students, business executives, and energy experts to develop ideas and solutions to the world’s energy challenges. Focusing on three primary topics: skills for innovation, diversifying our energy mix, and ensuring access to energy in developing countries the initiative hopes to create awareness and a productive dialog on environmental efficiency. Participants will submit a written essay, video, or infographic. The winner will participate in a webinar on March 25, 2014 and debate with four energy experts on how to best address climate change and the future of alternative energy.



An Icelandic designer living and working in Berlin, Siggi Eggertsson recently installed a show at Spark Design Space in Reykjavík that overloads the eye with its pixelated, graphic, colored repetition. He covered literally the entire space with exception of the ceiling – floors, walls, pillars and stairs – in a pattern that bends and tests perception, faces and imagery coming and going from visual views. The wallpaper is made up of a set of eight posters, which – when combined in different ways – form the intensity of pattern. On view through April 11.

Newly Stitched


A new exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum highlights the work of three contemporary artists working with the concept of the quilt in new ways. Sabrina Gschwandtner stitches together strips of 16mm film with polyamide to construct her quilts (detail shown above). Stephen Sollins re-constructs antique quilts from non-traditional materials like tyvek and paper envelopes, while Luke Hynes creates quilts of pop culture iconography. All address the traditional form in new, enlightening ways. On view through January 5.

Silken House


Studies in MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group have led to a silkworm-created structure reminiscent of a geodesic dome. After researching the behaviors and patterns of silkworms, the group created a CNC program based on their findings which wove together a base frame with overlapping threads. 6500 silkworms were then released onto the structure and guided with light to reinforce the form, covering it with silk. See the incredible process video here.


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