"I think I am working for an evolving system of signification that is in its nature slow, and is in my case not the materialization of the concept, but lies in the abstract perception of experience and in the indirect consequence of tacit knowledge."
I am an extremely curious, hyperactive and socially involved designer. I was educated as an Industrial designer and chose to focus on user interaction and experience. I love to create and manifest my imaginations in the real world, through projects that target to inspire or persuade others into action. I focus on societal phenomena and try to interact together with the people involved. I work as an experience designer, autonmously and on commission, for companies and organizations. I combine technology, art and design with live interaction to create mesmerizing results.
Tell me a little bit about your background, did you always have had a keen interest in design and what led you down this path?
As a child, my favorite hobby was working in the garden and helping my dad in his spare time with bricklaying and carpentry projects. While doing so, I was thinking of ways to do it more easily. It grew into a fascination about technology and in primary school I spent more time building “inventions” than doing my homework. After high school I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University, but soon I discovered it wasn’t purely the technology that was my interest. In fact it was specifically people’s experience with technology and their perception of technology. Therefore I started studying industrial design and after graduating, I discovered the excitement of designing experiences, through large objects and light-interactive installations. Now I combine product design and installation design, for my main focus on experiences.
What’s the most exciting thing about your work?
I think the most exciting part in my work, is the adventure each project creates for me when I am in the process of creating the project. Most of my projects are one-offs, which means every project is completely different in nature and is started from scratch. I keep on learning new things in the design process and keep meeting new people who make me super enthusiastic. This way I constantly get inspiration out of these new contexts.
I love switching between mind over matter, and matter over mind; between cognitive challenges and physical challenges. I mostly build everything I design myself, with support of experts and lovely friends and family. The process provides me with the wonderful combination of contemplating concepts and at the other hand experiencing the interaction between my hands and the material. One moment I am working on my concepts behind my desk, fantasizing about weird fun objects, the other moment I am outside building crazy stuff. I have been on a boat in London to build an installation, painted a wall in Beijing for an exhibition and controlled a crane to pull op another installation during Christmas. I love adventure and I love diversity, it makes me superhappy.
Aesthetics has a pretty significant role in your work. How does it influence what you capture?
Well, I love when people interact with what I have built. In order to get them this far, I need to reassure them through my design and invite them to interact with the design. I think aesthetics are a key factor in doing so. I want people to do things, they normally maybe wouldn’t do, without necessarily getting them out of their comfort zone. Or better said, I want them to feel comfortable going out of there comfort zone, and I think I achieve this with my aesthetics.
In your projects, you suggest the idea of the objects, the city, the places linked to the nature. Is this the way to be able to survive our growth into the 21st century? Is the nature the therapy?
Nature is not the only therapy out there, but one that is very important to me. And although the concept, of therapeutic nature, is so obvious and is perceived as common knowledge, it seems so often to be forgotten. There are many aspects to nature that create happiness, but one of my favorite is the continuously changing stimuli by nature on our senses. It is in small things, the smell of leaves or dirt, the wind blowing against the hair on your skin, the change of temperature, the sound of trees or thunder. They all stimulate your senses and teach you how to feel and how to experience the environment. It makes you connect to your own body. This is nothing new ofcourse, but for me wildly interesting. Introducing these elements in design, on places where you might not always encounter them, is my attempt to contribute something positive in everyday life.
Your work is positive, progressive, beautiful, modern, a way of using forms as a medium to challenge narrow assumptions and preconceptions to give a deeper role to design in everyday life. What’s the secret?
Well my approach is to see where I can add value; to find things in society I perceive as beautiful and therefore like to emphasize; or to discover mechanism in society with which I cannot relate or sometimes even disagree. Through research I try to develop a deeper understanding about relevant processes in order to verify or change my position.
Often I decide to just create something to add a certain value to a specific context, and sometimes I try to intervene and offer the opportunity to do things differently, without being obtrusive.
We are in the epoch of simultaneity, of juxtaposition, of the near and far, of the side-by-side. We are living the effort to establish a sort of configuration between an ensemble of relations that makes them appear as set off against one another. Actually, how are you involved to design these relations?
The tension between contrast is great to provoke action. By creating relations between concepts that seem to contradict, but when observed closer appear to complement, I try to exploit potential associations. For me it creates reflection on the perspective of how I see things.
The same I apply with solutions already provided surrounding me, I sometimes deliberately do the opposite to see if I can get the same result, or I try to create a very different result with the very same means. I like to juxtapose the current solutions that surround me, with the ones that feel more naturally to me.
The space in which we live is a heterogeneous space, not a kind of void, inside of which we could place individuals and things. Among all these sites, how do you choose the sites for your projects? Are you curious more in certain ones that have the property of being in relation with all the other sites?
I tend to choose sites where I find a lot of interesting turbulence. At the meeting point of several forces, natural and/ or societal, I find the opportunity to create an unobtrusive intervention. I like to make people aware of these forces and energy that meet at this point, for example large bridges are natural crossing points of people, water and wind-power. For this specific case, I worked on a light-art-installation, providing a medium to visualize the wind-power and even interact with the wind. Or another example would be the crossing point of pedestrian with different goals and reasons for their logistics, to turn the crossing point in an unexpected meeting point, will result in beautiful undirectable experiences.
The built environment is the society’s material memory, the visible informations about society’s order and institutions. Are you working for a slowly evolving system of signification?
If I contemplate your analogy of the build environment with the society’s material memory, I would say I myself am not focusing on contributing directly to the collective material memory. I wish to be modest about my impact, but according to the analogy I would like to impact the “working memory”.
My work is a realization of my imagination, and the combination of my knowledge and intuition about certain mechanisms and the effects on people. In this manner I experiment with what I create and how I can contribute. I notice that my work often has an effect on people in the sense that they are inspired, see a concept from a very unusual perspective or just have a positive experience. This all is processed by the working memory of the audience of my work. It might turn into a memory or even be converted into small tacit knowledge developed from the experience of interaction stimulated by my design, even if it is insignificantly small. I believe that a multiplication of these kind of positive experiences in the working memory can have effect in the long term.
So to summarize I think I am working for an evolving system of signification that is in its nature slow, and is in my case not the materialization of the concept, but lies in the abstract perception of experience and in the indirect consequence of tacit knowledge.
We must continuously recalibrate what we are doing in line with what everybody else is doing, we must remain networked all the time. Is it right to define your work like a sort of meaningful system reference to facilitate the deep, layered and porous jungle-connectivity?
I think my work is in this regards two-sided, one way is because I love to create moments in which people with different ideas, cultures, experiences or perspectives to meet and see the beauty of diversity in approaches while sharing an experience. And I think this is part of recalibrating or confirmation that your vision is in line with your zeitgeist. The other part is that I myself want to experience this societal feedback and test my comprehension and involvement.
Tell me something that currently fascinates you.
I am wildly fascinated about many things at the moment the perception of space, making light tangible and the possibilities of magical interaction to inspire people, combining performance arts with installations and much more.
What would be your dream creative project?
My dream project…. Pfoeh that is such a difficult question… Until now almost every project I worked on, was at that very moment my dream project. Since I saw my imagination come real, but what I have learned from doing very large projects are the ingredients of a dream project. A dream project is for me a project that is big… a lot of work, I love the feeling of having to do a crazy amount of work, and be impressed with that I succeeded to finish, even though that might sound stupid. Also, I love to discover a new environment, in which I haven’t worked before, having to build stuff from a boat, or hanging in midair.
Finally, it needs the unobtrusive interaction of people passing by, and I need a folding chair, to sit somewhere in the back, to see how my object is being used and to enjoy that it is working.
So for my next project, I would love to design a product or installation, somewhere abroad, in an environment new to me!! Me and my folding chair are ready!
What are you optimistic about?
I am optimistic about the fact that people are so creative and inspiring. I am so impressed that even when things are really bad, or situations seem hopeless, there are always inventive people that find a creative solution or a creative expression to deal with things at hand. I am super impressed with that.
What have you changed your mind about? Why?
I have changed my mind about focusing and narrowing down my working field. I was advised several times to focus my business into a clearly defined area of design. At first I was convinced, this was the way to go, but along the way I discovered that maybe I am not ready to narrow down, or maybe I just like to work on very divers stuff.
So to conclude, I think it is very important to doubt your own way of working, take advice, new learn things and reflect upon if you can change, improve, or you keep on going, until the next point of reflection.
You couldn’t live without?
Obviously, my loved ones, un-obviously, I couldn’t live without my tools haha. If I didn’t have some tools and materials laying around, my head would explode. Creating stuff is a way for me to empty my mind, and avoid too many stupid ideas stacking up. Continuously, I am thinking about how things work technically and have to try it out myself, or I have a quick idea in my head, most of the time sketching is not good enough but I have to build it, see it and feel it. Sometimes is worth developing further, but very often it is just about clearing my mind. My workspace is a recycling center of strange half-worked out brainfarts.
Informativa ai sensi dell’art. 13 D.LGS. 30 giugno 2003 n.196
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