As technology takes over our lives, we're all trying to figure out a balance between our always-on mindsets and healthy, mindful living. Unread Messages is a new exhibition at London's Aram Gallery that explores how design can help bridge the digital and the analog. Curated by creative agency Six:Thirty, five different designers will put projects on display as part of the show. These interactive products have all been designed to help people explore healthier relationships with technology.
Dean Brown's Social Storage tries to reimagine the role of physical objects in the digital age. When things were analog, shelves were just as much about storing your books, records, and pictures as they were about showing off who you were. That's no longer possible now that the media that reflects people's interests is just a bunch of bytes stored on their phones. That's why Brown's shelves feature blank sculptures of a few books, an album, a statue, a frame, and even a plant. With the help of some projection mapping, these physical shelves can reflect an owner's digital interests.
Matan Stauber's concept Away from the Moon uses a person's distance from a screen to control UI. You know how you lean in when you want to see more detail in a painting, or stand away when you want to see the whole thing at once? Stauber's concept takes the same approach with online articles. Using a laptop's webcam, it tracks a reader's distance from the screen. When a reader is farther away, the whole of an article is displayed. When they lean in, though, they can drill down into the details of the article in a larger, more readable font.
Matteo Loglio's Nōmu is a series of four, brightly colored blocks that act like a tool for planning out online time. Each block represents a two-hour period spent browsing and working on certain websites: the green block might represent social media sites, while the orange block might represent banking and bill-paying sites. By arranging them in order, you can plan out your digital workday. When you're done, the blocks wirelessly transmit your day's schedule to your browser through an extension, locking you out of certain websites at certain times of the day to cut down on distractions.
Rounding out the show is a series of medieval-looking wearables called Fidgety Machines that monitor social media anxiety, and I/O, a browser plug-in that visualizes all of the time you're spending online, to encourage you to spend less of it.
The common thread running through all of these "veeblefetzers"? Ultimately, they're about mindfulness. Although disparate in purpose, they all ask you to pay attention to how you use technology, and treat it more like the time you spend in the real world.
The designs will be on display from March 11 to April 9 as part of the Unread Messages exhibition at the Aram Gallery in London's Covent Garden.
All Photos: courtesy Six:Thirty