Skip
Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Innovation By Design

Interaction-Design Students Imagine A Parallel Universe For Everyday Objects

ECAL students ask, "What do objects dream about?" for an exhibit at Milan Design Week.

  • <p>ECAL/Mélanie Courtinat<br />
Vases without  owners. Through the gaps, you catch a glimpse of a marvelous vegetal world with unknown species.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Erika Marthins & Hélène Portier<br />
Brooms designed to be handled from a particular angle. Controlling them unveils a universe of staggering proportions.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Pierry Jaquillard & Justine Rieder<br />
A fan turns the pages of a book by the force of its blow.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/André Andrade & Giulio Barresi<br />
A toaster becomes a launching pad for all sorts of objects.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/André Andrade & Giulio Barresi<br />
Another shot</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Salomé Chatriot<br />
Teapots filled with liquid sound</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Charlotte Broccard & Stella Speziali<br />
Opaque bottles filled with a digital liquid</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Aloïs Geiser & Andrea Ramirez Aburto<br />
Rocking lamps bathe faces in light. Inside, a shining ball is guided along a monumental journey.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Pietro Alberti & Elise Migraine<br />
Lookbooks keep their pages tightly closed. The binding gives you a glimpse of an unexpected content.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Adrien Kaeser & Corentin Vignet<br />
This hairdryer reaches an insanely hot virtual temperature, frying objects in front of it.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Kelian Maissen, Mathieu Palauqui & Guillaume Simmen<br />
A tape measure allows users to navigate through the depth of a scene.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Luca Kasper & Callum Ross<br />
A metronome controls the pace of a table tennis match.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Pierre Allain-Longval & Mathilde Colson<br />
A connected bicycle pump allows you to interact in a virtual scene.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/David Nguyen & Fabiola Soavelo<br />
A scale alters the content of an image according to the user’s weight.</p>
  • <p>ECAL/Thomas Faucheux & Arthur Moscatelli<br />
A table designed for a special “tête-à-tête”. Through the table top one perceives a dramatic drop.</p>
  • 01 /15

    ECAL/Mélanie Courtinat
    Vases without owners. Through the gaps, you catch a glimpse of a marvelous vegetal world with unknown species.

  • 02 /15

    ECAL/Erika Marthins & Hélène Portier
    Brooms designed to be handled from a particular angle. Controlling them unveils a universe of staggering proportions.

  • 03 /15

    ECAL/Pierry Jaquillard & Justine Rieder
    A fan turns the pages of a book by the force of its blow.

  • 04 /15

    ECAL/André Andrade & Giulio Barresi
    A toaster becomes a launching pad for all sorts of objects.

  • 05 /15

    ECAL/André Andrade & Giulio Barresi
    Another shot

  • 06 /15

    ECAL/Salomé Chatriot
    Teapots filled with liquid sound

  • 07 /15

    ECAL/Charlotte Broccard & Stella Speziali
    Opaque bottles filled with a digital liquid

  • 08 /15

    ECAL/Aloïs Geiser & Andrea Ramirez Aburto
    Rocking lamps bathe faces in light. Inside, a shining ball is guided along a monumental journey.

  • 09 /15

    ECAL/Pietro Alberti & Elise Migraine
    Lookbooks keep their pages tightly closed. The binding gives you a glimpse of an unexpected content.

  • 10 /15

    ECAL/Adrien Kaeser & Corentin Vignet
    This hairdryer reaches an insanely hot virtual temperature, frying objects in front of it.

  • 11 /15

    ECAL/Kelian Maissen, Mathieu Palauqui & Guillaume Simmen
    A tape measure allows users to navigate through the depth of a scene.

  • 12 /15

    ECAL/Luca Kasper & Callum Ross
    A metronome controls the pace of a table tennis match.

  • 13 /15

    ECAL/Pierre Allain-Longval & Mathilde Colson
    A connected bicycle pump allows you to interact in a virtual scene.

  • 14 /15

    ECAL/David Nguyen & Fabiola Soavelo
    A scale alters the content of an image according to the user’s weight.

  • 15 /15

    ECAL/Thomas Faucheux & Arthur Moscatelli
    A table designed for a special “tête-à-tête”. Through the table top one perceives a dramatic drop.

We often dream about souped-up techy products and think about all of the ways they can improve our lives. In a role-reversal exercise, students at the prestigious Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne (ECAL) in Switzerland thought about the hidden desires of everyday items like tape measures, brooms, desk fans, and toasters and what that might look like with modern interventions like virtual reality, video, and sensors. Turns out they just want to have fun—or indulge in hijinks.

In 13 conceptual experiments on view at Milan Design Week, the students either augmented an object's function—which was only revealed through how a person interacted with the item—or invited people to "look inside" them by essentially turning the piece into a VR experience. For example, Luca Kasper and Callum Ross synced a metronome to a video of two people playing ping-pong. As you speed up or slow down the metronome's beat, the volleys' pace follows suit. Vases usually hold cut flowers, but Mélanie Courtinat perceived them as portals to botanical worlds. She turned stoneware vessels into headsets that offer users a look at a virtual landscape. Adrien Kasser and Corentin Vignet filmed a scene of plastic office supplies melting after viewers switch on a hairdryer pointed at the screen. After the dryer switches off, the vignette rewinds and goes back to normal. As I repeat the process again and again, I can't help but think about a blowdryer's potential appetite for destruction.

By creating fictitious narratives and uses for these items, the students open the door for us to contemplate our relationship to products and what we want them to do. See the full roster of the students' work in the slide show above.

loading