Products Designed For A Future We’d Like To (Or Hope Never To) See
Students generate product ideas for a hypothetical future exploring everything from fidgeting to suicide
Parallel Times was an exhibition of hypothetical products by graduating students from the Products of Design program at the School of Visual Arts. The work comes out of the Product Futuring class directed by Sinclair Smith who created the project to challenge the students’ imaginations. All of the 20 projects were exhibited at WantedDesign, Brooklyn during NYCxDesign 2016.
The students were asked to create products of the future based on a projection of current events. To ground their designs in context, each created a future edition newspaper spread containing news items and an ad for their brand’s product. They then had to look backwards and create an “original specimen” product of today representing how their brand and future timeline begins. The work presented spanned a range of social issues encompassing both utopian and dystopian futures.
The exhibit was presented with each of the student’s editorial page and products together. The project was documented in a free newspaper available at WantedDesign. We’ve selected five projects at random to highlight here.
Lighthouse by Adam Fujita
Fujita’s theses is dedicated to empowering the undocumented community of the United States. With the primary intent of examining the duality between the advocates and detractors of immigration reform, Fujita’s theses dictates that giving undocumented people new tools and innovative technologies to foster agency will help them feel appreciated while building our economy, and strengthening and diversifying our communities. Lighthouse is a smart candle inspired by Catholic prayer candles that is activated via smartphones, designed as a way to allow partners separated by distance to affectionately let each other know that they are remembered and missed.
Passage by Natsuki Hayashi
Hayashi’s thesis explores the contemporary design of assisted suicide. Utilizing design to reimagine the way we die, Hayashi pushes the boundaries of the legal, moral and emotionally appropriate ways to end life. Passages, a final cocktail kit, consists of a cup, mixing spoons and tray, and introduces ritual into the preparation of one’s final drink. Passage is made of raw wood to reflect the taste of the specific medicine used to end life, which happens to taste like wood and to highlight its temporality as a food-safe vessel. The form of the tray dictates the placement for capsules, opened and unopened. The cup base is round to reflect its single-use nature.
Express Keyboard by Roya Ramezani
Ramezani’s theses focuses on putting a dent in the gender gap in the tech industry through amplifying women’s voices in industry discourse. It explores alternative ways for women to increase their sense of agency and express their opinions to facilitate greater participation. Express Keyboard is an innovative keyboard inspired by women’s cognitive and physical advantages. The keys on this keyboard are intentionally made smaller to leverage women’s fine motor skills. The space around the keys makes room for extra keys with words such as “declare,” “disagree,” ect. to help women replace compliant language with assertive verbs.
Tempo by Chelsea Stewart
Stewart’s thesis explores the relationship between moment and design, and seeks to imbue traditional products and graphics with the essence of movement. Tempo is a smart metronome that pairs with smartphones in order to track, record and physicalize the nature of users’ movements. While users go about their daily lives, Tempo analyzes the rhythm of their movement and abstracts it. When users interact with the device, their life tempo gets played back to them, granting a novel data visualization of the pace of their life and connecting them back to their daily movements.
Didgets by Belen Tenorio
Tenorio’s theses explores the territory of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the context of a quick-fix society that too eagerly medicates individuals. Research shows that fidgeting is necessary for some individuals to focus: the additional sensory input allows their brain to become fully engaged on their primary activity. Wanting to elevate multitasking through fidgeting, she created a set of quality fidget tools named Didgets that allow discreet fidgeting inside classrooms, meeting and lectures. There are four in all, each designed for specific tactile preferences: the Squishy, the Roller, the Cubix and the Clicker.
Photos: SVA, Dave Pinter