In our homes and offices, there are at least two things we look at that are on vertical surfaces: Art and feedback displays. We hang paintings and photographs for pleasure and ambience, while we rely on thermostats, clocks and microwave oven readouts to provide some useful piece of data that changes. What if the art function could be combined with the data-providing function?
That's the idea proposed by Victoria Hammel and Gunes Kantaroglu of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. The duo recently participated in Space10's "Fresh Living Lab" workshop, which asks designers to explore "how we can live healthier lives and make better choices for both the planet and ourselves." Hammale and Kantaroglu's submission, "smART," turns art into a feedback device that lets the user know how much heat and water they've recently consumed:
Now obviously you're not going to hack up your Modigliani to tell you how many seconds are left until that burrito's ready, but Hammel and Kantaroglu's concept could surely be useful for a variety of other data applications:
- Running with their heat-and-water concept, it might be useful for a piece of art to indicate how much hot water was left for a shower for those living in a shared household, or if the thermostat was not keeping pace.
- In my own situation, where my Wi-Fi connection is shared, I'd love for a painting to subtly indicate what the current data usage was, so I wouldn't try to upload a YouTube video when someone next door is streaming The Man in the High Castle.
- I'd like a photograph I have to turn brown when the U.P.S. guy reaches my block. (That's what brown can do for me.)
The current wisdom is that all of this information will one day be sent to our smartphones, but if I could offload that to a local piece of art and have one less reason to be glued to my phone, I'd be a happy man.
The Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, by the way, is both a postgraduate school and a consultancy; as the name indicates, they focus on that other "I.D." Hammel and Kantaroglu being students, at a project length of two weeks they had a bit longer than the insane three days that the folks behind this clever standing desk had. But that's still fast, and I'm still impressed with Space10 living up to their promise of getting designers to quickly generate innovative concepts.