London Design Festival 2015: Three big ideas for the future of design

London Design Festival 2015

This year’s London Design Festival has its sights set firmly on the future. As festival director, Ben Evans, told Wallpaper* shortly before events kicked off: “What’s different about London from other design festivals is that it’s about ideas”.

And nowhere is this more clear than at Talks With 100% Design, the trade show’s inspiring line-up of panels, seminars and keynotes. Here are some of the big ideas to emerge from this week’s talks – from skin-like technology to the future photo shoots…

Design will be about experience.
“The next big thing is not a thing, it’s a moment. It’s time. Soft, slow and sensitive. It’s very human-centred,” said Lisa White, Head of WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors and WGSN Think Tank.  “We’re going from a moment of objects to a moment of experiences.” Explaining some of the key ideas in The Vision S/S 17 – Pause, she highlighted how technology is going beyond the functional to enhance wellbeing, taking on a skin-like tactility and a more design-led presence within the home. “It’s really our relationship with machines and technology that we’re trying to figure out,” she said. “I want design to speak my body language.” Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec‘s new TV for Samsung, Serif, does just this, as does Benjamin Hubert‘s tactile concept phone, with its almost goosebumped surface.

Technology will live with us
Yves Behar, the founder of design company fuseproject and CCO of tech brand Jawbone, dived into wearables, technology and human nature in his keynote conversation with Deyan Sudjic – beginning with a definition of what design should do. “The responsibility and the goal of design is to constantly improve on what was there before,” he said. “Design is about the human experience. When I design a personal speaker, I get letters, people tell me their stories: that they had music when they delivered a baby, that they played music when they proposed on the beach. The products that are successful are the ones that change the human experience a little bit.”

Jawbone UP

We’re at a point in history now where we’re learning how to fit tech devices into our lives, he said. “The goal is for technology not to take over, not to constantly distract you from the moment. More and more, I’m trying to make sure technology lives with us.” As well as Jawbone UP – an activity and wellness tracker that becomes more tactile, more colourful and more bracelet-like with each design iteration – he showcased the August Smart Lock, a retro-fitting connected door lock which takes away that moment of worry when you check to make sure you have your keys.

“Technology is like fabric,” he explained. “Designers can cut it and shape it into what they want it to be. So when we say we are afraid of change, afraid of technology, it’s because it’s been badly put together. Over the next 10 years, designers will develop ways for technology to communicate with us in a way that is less destructive. And hopefully, at the same time, we’ll mature a little bit.”

The future of photography is scanning
Matthew Shaw, co-founder of ScanLAB Projects, believes machine vision shouldn’t just be for machines – or just for coders. “3D scanning is one of the ways the machines of the future will see the world,” he said. “We’ve commandeered technology away from machine makers. It’s important for us to understand how machines see the world. We scan pumpkins, we scan mirrors, we scan smoke and mist.” Each scan captures about 250 million points, generating intricate data sets that can then be played with, rotated and sliced.

ScanLAB for Vivienne Westwood

One of ScanLAB’s most beautiful projects is a collaboration with Vivienne Westwood, a laser-scanned photo shoot that re-draws the conventions of portrait photography. “What will happen to portraiture in a world where portraits aren’t 2D images but three-dimensional datasets?” Shaw asked. “You can pull back from the focal point… a portrait can start to dissolve. There’s a beautiful absence of information behind the people in this portrait.” In an industry where we often talk about big data, it’s inspiring to be reminded how beautiful data can be too.

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