Dear System is my final graduation project for Product Design BA at Edinburgh College of Art. It is a study into our increasingly amorphous relationships with appliances within the home, envisioning the object as service, and the user as product. In the connected home, objects are market-driven to cannibalize attention and work in increasingly complex ways to keep it. A phone buzzes, and a microwave dings, but what if our mundane objects became imbued with this technological power as a means of competing for our attention and encouraging use every day?
Design - Leon Brown
Cast - Samuel McCaffery
Production Help - Joe Revans, Billy Dixon
As Dear System produces toast, it also listens—to user feedback, emotion, and reception, becoming yet more alien as it attempts to become human. Learning, it attempts to exploit the complexities of our connected future and produce a vision of the future home with the toaster as metaphor.
As you decide to view advertising burnt into your bread, it begins to build a comprehensive image of its owner; slowly seeding preferences until the power of what bread to eat, which adverts to see, what type of spread to use, and how brown to toast, are entirely relinquished to the toaster.
Each time you toast, the toaster teases at getting closer to the perfect combination—with the slate, gathering seemingly meaningless information to benefit both advertisers and the user through experience. The angular, mechanized aesthetic it presents sits in reflection of its purpose—created as if by its own kind to be efficient and sharp both visually and operationally.
My work has always been focused on the intersection of traditional sensibilities and an industrialized production process, tackling the entanglement of technology in our post-industrial spaces. It is produced to manufacture discourse around technology and the built environment—and attempts to echo a wider shift within our modes of consumption—as much as the mechanization of work has separated most individuals from the experience of witnessing making, new digital media from the internet to film-making have continued to separate us from direct contact with the information we consume.
So as the post-modern world arranges itself in increasingly complex and nuanced ways, we must work to simplify and rationalize this information to decipher in it a reality—be this the reality of technology, mass manufacture, or design—above all, my work hoping to teach those to scrutinize more carefully the material world.