The result of 'Six-Forty by Four-Eighty' is not 30.72, it is a mesmerizing combination of computation and design. For the last edition of Design Miami/Basel, American Jamie Zigelbaum and Brazilian Marcelo Coelho created a multidisciplinary piece that was the most intriguing of all.
In a pitch dark room, 220 colorful magnetic tiles illuminated a wall. Each pixel had its own individual computer with LED light and a touchdown screen that could turn into thousands of different colors, though only a time. The installation was beautiful but, moreover, it was lots of fun.
It wasn't until you approached it and started playing with it that you got the full experience. The visitor could move the pixels around, creating the desired pattern and leaving his or her own footprint in the design. But this kind of interaction wouldn't be new in the design world. Coelho and Zigelbaum have created something else, something more spectacular and shocking.
With the right hand you touch one of the extra large pixels, let's say, a pink one. With the left hand, you touch another, a green one, for example. A few seconds later.... tada! They both had turned into the same color. The electrical impulses had traveled through your body from one extreme to another. In fact, the designers claim that they have managed to create a chain of eight people and it still works!
"The pixel is a single point of light, a bit of pure information. They are strangers that inhabit our living spaces, but remain out of reach from our physical bodies," said Zigelbaum. "This installation is an attempt to change that," he added, "making people deal with computational datas if it were solid material."
Zigelbaum and Coelho met at the Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their common interest in computer science and aesthetics made them set up their own "post-industrial" design studio, where they make "everything" from the internal mechanisms of their interactive pieces to the external fancy design.
In their first ever appearance at Design Miami/Basel their success was almost overwhelming. Not only they won one of the W Hotels - Designers of the Future Awards but they also sold all their pieces, something that according to Zigelbaun was "unheard" in any of the five editions of the fair in Basel.