“Now, there is a colourful desk lamp that does the communicating for you without disturbing anyone. It avoids the generalised memos and automated emails, replacing them with an attractive piece of ‘smart furniture’.” -Sarah Wilkinson, Protein®
”…blends seamlessly into the environment, a piece of smart furniture that’s as poetic as it is useful.”
We think of sound as an amazingly powerful architectural material. Sound shapes us, arguably more than the visual aesthetics that are often the primary focus of designers.
Our studio has musicians, artists and technologists. We’ve put that talent to use to create sounds that evoke specific emotions in new ways for people as they travel through buildings that we design. Essentially, we can create specific emotions in a space by playing sounds that stimulate those emotions.
All sounds are made in a manner that gives them a sense of space and atmosphere. This is achieved through a number of techniques, from recording with binaural microphones, to capturing sound in an environment that we are trying to recreate. A violin will sound dramatically different when recorded in sound booth versus a rain forest (yes, we’ve tested this).
Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, we can then post hundreds of these isolated sounds online to get crowd-sourced feedback on each sound. This feedback is given from the exact audience that will experience the sounds in the final installation. This process automatically codifies each isolated sound with properties like, “introspective,” “evening,” “optimistic,” “fun,” and “technical.”
The sounds are then arranged and played back to create “atmospheres.” If you want to create a space that evokes feelings of thoughtfulness, rhythm, and connectedness, this can happen by calling up files codified with similar properties. We might then have the space gradually shift to call up feelings of vitality, city, and future, for example. The sounds are never arranged in the same way twice, giving limitless variety and a sense of discovery to a place.
Finally, we play back arrangements using directional sound emitters. The emitters give a highly controlled, intimate feeling that dramatically shapes one’s journey through a place that we’ve designed. We often combine emitters with traditional, full-range speakers.
Additionally, sounds can be slightly augmented or make dramatic shifts according to real-time inputs. Inputs can be, for example, time of day, time of year, position of the moon, the number of people experiencing the installation, the ambient noise levels created by those people, unusual swings in outside temperature, a sunny day after several consecutive days of rain, or mentions of a certain key words from people standing near the installation.
We call installations with real-time inputs “live atmospheres.” Installations that respond to occupants of a room are called “responsive atmospheres.” Simple, prearranged installations are simply “atmospheres.”
All of these things are considered new architectural materials, right alongside wood, glass, steel and concrete, and are new ways for designers to shape emotions in an environment. more…
the studio made random juxtaposition flash cards for tonight’s Internet of Things workshop. if you ask nicely April will probably send you a pack.
model and material board for upcoming work. nearly a mile of bungee cord woven through hundreds of eye bolts placed throughout a building.
new installation for overflowproject.org being installed tonight. what do these objects sound like?
i made an infographic that charts my diminishing role in the economy. i also made a four part plan to escape the murderbots…
1) avoid best practices like the plague. when you go off the path, you find interesting things.
2) “what” is easier to automate than “why”. make things with purpose and meaning.
3) love. because robots and algorithms can’t. (they can’t… can they?)
4) stay creative. continually. forever.
new video for Place Lamp, our multi-geofence HUE hack.
(cut me a break! i made this video, spelling mistakes and all, in like 20 minutes!)
a friend of mine, eric gressier, is a professor at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris where he focuses on digital-physical space. eric was just at CES where IoT (Internet of Things) and technology-infused architecture were a main emphasis.
i asked eric’s take on the show, expecting to hear about fun new tech that was debuted this year. his response was far more intelligent than the boyish, gadget-oriented question. eric completely avoided the devices and instead talked about emotion being key…
“I am thinking in how we can use ‘buildings’ around ‘storytelling’… it is a key of the smart city. We need emotional design and a new way to rewrite the city. In the sense of allowing citizens to rewrite the city. Huge topic.”
people have emotions around anything meaningful. in fact, when we talk about Experience Economy and Purpose Economy, i think that we might be talking about an economy driven by meaning. if my guess is correct, artists and designers that take pleasure in making beautiful things that have meaning will have an increasing role in shaping places, buildings, cities and society. so that’s fun.
Photo Credit: Olson Kundig Architects, Belle & Wissell Co., NBBJ + samuel stubblefield for Microsoft Envisioning Center
come to Xlab in NYC!
i won’t be offended if you step out and get a corn dog during my talk, but i wouldn’t miss the others! …Institute for the Future, Spatial Information Design Lab, Columbia University, New York University, Google, Digital Kitchen, Unified Field, Materials + Methods, The Living, MIT Architecture
this is a design strategy that we use at NBBJ Studio 07 all the time, and is something that has influenced my art as well. just wanted to share in case anyone else found it useful…
when we talk about “experience design” (XD), memory and time have everything to do with it. we even think of “time as a medium”, right there next to form, color and material.
the thinking in this diagram builds on some fun Psychology 101 concepts. it encourages keeping the message of arrival and departure points clearly aligned with mission of the space. basically, this effects the occupant’s association with the space as they later reflect on the experience in that space. we call it “Memory Value”.
a good example is helping a patient that is reflecting on their experience at a hospital to associate feelings of being loved, nurtured and cared for by amazing wellness professionals.
we can help this association by pushing those attributes in the design of the arrival and departure points. that may come in the form of solving wayfinding issues that come with the arrival process, to infusing progressive, energetic art into the architecture that is experienced on departure. if those points in their journey are uneventful, so will be their recall of their time spent, to a some degree.
i think that we do this intuitively as good designers, but it is fun to connect the science. here are some other factors that weigh into the memory value and memory creation aspect of experience design. use only for good!
primacy effect - information that occurs first is typically remembered better than information occurring later. When given a list of words or numbers, the first word or number is usually remembered due to rehearsing this more than other information.
recency effect - often the last bit of information is remembered better because not as much time has passed; time which results in forgetting.
distinctiveness - if something stands out from information around it, it is often remembered better. Any distinctive information is easier to remember than that which is similar, usual, or mundane.
frequency effect - rehearsal, as stated in the first example, results in better memory. Remember trying to memorize a formula for your math class. The more you went over it, the better you knew it.
associations - when we associate or attach information to other information it becomes easier to remember.
reconstruction - sometimes we actually fill in the blanks in our memory. In other words, when trying to get a complete picture in our minds, we will make up the missing parts, often without any realization that this is occurring.
new painting in Black Ink.
Here is something that we’ve been working on…
Place Lamp is a new way to automate communication in a workspace or team setting.
Place Lamp connects to the owner’s smartphone and allows the owner to set multiple digital geofences around the lamp. The invisible geofences allow the lamp to know how far the owner is from the lamp. The lamp then changes color based on the distance of the user to the lamp.
For example, the Place Lamp might be set to turn blue when you are out of the country, a subtle orange glow when you are in the office (but not at your desk), and white when you are at your desk – where it functions as a task light. Rather than dealing with “out of office” settings or notifying your team that you are “away,” this automated function provides an element that allows everyone to be a little more connected.
Place Lamp can also be used to automate communication filtering. For example, Place Lamp can be set to fade in-and-out when the owner gets a text, call or email from specific, owner-designated people. This allows the owner to turn off communication notifications (calendar reminders, email pop-ups, vibrating phones, etc.) that aren’t related to the task at hand. This is a great way to immerse yourself in a project without worry of missing important communication.