25 september 2018

Meet the 2018 antenna conference speakers

Meet the 2018 antenna conference speakers

These graduates want to change the world in ways we never thought possible.

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Redefining the value of a broken object

(Im)material Telephone sees the smartphone as more than a personalised communication device, specifically when it breaks.

Noud Sleumer from DAE, says the smartphone represents connectivity and individuality. It’s a data stream of our most personal values. But when it breaks, if it cannot be repaired, it’s seen as worthless.

There is still value in its physical form, says Sleumer. From the perspective of the global system of production, a broken smartphone still contains 42 precious materials as well as the user’s unique personal data.

Sleumer’s project both dramatises and guarantees the destruction of the data storage,  making personal information inaccessible, while capturing the moment in which the smartphone’s inner materials are revealed.

The machine activates new possibilities for the circulation and reuse of materials, while preventing the user’s private history from disseminating into the public sphere.

Streetwear as safety

Bodybuildings is a speculative film, or movie forecast as the designer describes it, that explores how streetwear can soften the hardness of the city.

Ines De Peuter, from DAE, sees streetwear as a soft, cushioning of protection. The garments filter the stimuli of the city by using big volumes that increase the border between the body and its environment.

“Hoods wrap themselves around the head to isolate the noise, while a surface of grids is adopting the language of the cityscape, forming a guard to block the cities aggression,” wrote the designer.

The project looks at how streetwear can provide a sense of safety.

The future of work: Outsourced life

When you order food on a delivery app, you don’t have to leave your home, speak to a waiter or send compliments to the chef. Similarly, in banking, online shopping and even standing in line, everything can be done with the click of a button.

The debate on our increasingly online lifestyle leans on two poles: It’s either a barrier to human connection or the complete opposite, making the world an increasingly smaller place. At the University of applied arts, Vienna, Lisa Hofer tests the limits of our reality with a speculative project called Other-Self-Agency.

The agency for outsourced life, deals with the future of work. She writes: “More and more people cannot or do not want to spend the time to complete certain tasks and can afford to outsource. It is a sign of time prosperity to outsource and pass it on to a working person or machine.”

Hofer predicts that these developments will lead to new employment niches in the service sector. The other self agency is an online platform where fictitious services are offered. Human service staff “agents” adapt their services to the emotional needs of people.

Death, life and ritual

Burial rituals vary from culture to culture. But for many of us, it means putting a dead body in a coffin and then in the ground. It’s a symbolic return to the elements and big part of saying goodbye.

But this practice has come at a price: there just isn’t space to keep putting people into the Earth. Pratt graduate Shaina Garfield is offering a greener alternative to the traditional burial.

Leaves is a type of burial rope and cloth made with biodegradable materials. The coffin’s rope is dyed and embedded with spores. Once the body is buried, fungus grows to speed up the decomposition.

Most importantly, the fungus eats the plethora of toxins in our bodies so only nutrients go into the soil. A tree is then planted above the burial site so the cemetery becomes a beacon of new life.

Generative music on the Moon

Iceland University’s Halldór Eldjárn always loved space, in particular the Moon. As a child, he’d look up at the stars in awe and wonder. Now, he’s channeled that childlike admiration into an interactive, generative music piece.

In Poco Apollo: A generative trip to the moon a computer turns 15000 pictures from NASA’s Apollo space missions into music.

“What I did was compose an algorithm that looks at and tries to understand the picture, selects musical notes, rhythm and atmosphere to fit with the picture,” explains Eldjárn. “The result is 15.000 short musical pieces.”

The website shows you a random photo slowly fading in while playing the music generated from that photo. Eldjárn estimates that it’ll take about two weeks to listen to all of the pictures – something he hasn’t personally done yet.

He has selected four of his favourite tunes from the library and is preparing a release on vinyl, played live by a small orchestra. He might just have something special in store for the antenna audience too.

Techno-ecologies and social engineering

Bitcoin’s energy bill is growing to environmentally disastrous proportions at a global scale, says MIT student Gary Zhexi Zhang.

Touted as a trustless system, blockchain protects itself from malicious intent through a series of computational methods, cutting out the need for traditional centralized social institutions, such as the administrative work of banks and governments.

Its mechanisms also replace the physical labour exerted by these mechanisms in the name of maintaining order and trust. But blockchain does produce heat.

Zhang’s project, Farm is a speculative exploration of the question: How much energy does it take to maintain a society?

The project seeks to explore the question by making the investigation palpable. Farm I (parasitic shrimp farm) replicated this relationship within an ecological system. Farm II (sacculina) replaced the shrimp in the first system with people.

Community self-empowerment

South African designer Nicole Nomsa Moyo created Ukubutha as a way for disenfranchised communities to empower themselves without depending on government assistance.

Service delivery after the weight of the Apartheid government is still almost non-existent in impoverished places in South Africa. Ukubutha, which means ‘to gather’ proposes a waste-to-energy design with socially driven architecture.

The sanitation hub aims to empower and collectively solve the underlying needs of access to adequate sanitation, a safe source of water and the production of energy. An independently built water, sanitation and energy hub, Ukubutha provides materials, system mechanisms and spatial qualities based on a response to social and environmental awareness.

The design is aimed at assisting the relief of service delivery backlogs for the government, municipalities and communities in, but not limited to Pretoria, South Africa.

The sanitation hub would provide on-site fabrication of recycling and resource recovery. Ukubutha is about creating sustainable environmental spaces for collective engagement and wellbeing. Moyo conceptualised the project at Carleton University in Canada.

Docu-Fictional food

Lichen, along with algae and insects, show great potential as a superfood. But unlike its counterparts, it’s so resilient that it can even survive on Mars.

Unseen Edible by Julia Schwarz from University of Applied Arts, Vienna, is a speculative look into a future where linchen is already on the menu.

Speculative projects like Schwarz’s are not far-fetched. According to the Independent, overpopulation and climate change will lead to a global food crisis by 2040.

With this in mind, Schwarz had a closer look at what people ate during times of famine. She found that lichen, a symbiosis of fungi and algae, showed up several times. “Starving people weren’t dying anymore and they didn’t have even deficiency symptoms,” she writes.

Her film is a glimpse of a world where lichen is already implemented as an everyday food source and offers a glimpse into the way our eating habits may change in years to come.

Dignity, Independence & Craft

Arthritis, osteoarthritis, burns sequelae or amputations of hands are among several conditions that can lead to partial or total atrophy of the hands.

Because the hands become cocoon like, everyday tasks like eating, writing or cleaning are nearly impossible without help. Oliber is a low-cost solution to this problem designed by Bárbara López Anwandter from the Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile.

It’s an easy to use, inexpensive magnetic mitten that allows people with atrophied hands to pick up objects via magnets and metal plates, enabling users to eat by themselves, brush their teeth, write with precision, draw, hold up their phone, and many other tasks.

The magnets allow users to hold up to 2.2 pounds. For objects that are not metal, Oliber comes with four metal plates that can be stuck to anything the user needs.

Design between strangers

Boijman’s Launderette by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Manon van Hoeckel is a fully functioning laundrette designed to foster communication in an unlikely space.

Located right in the middle of a museum at the exhibition ‘Change’ in Rotterdam, the laundrette responds to the world’s diminishing spaces for spontaneous conversation.

From online banking to food on demand, the chances of meeting a stranger are disappearing fast. When we talk to those we see as “other” it’s a chance to gain not only insight but also empathy.

One could argue that the disappearance of these spaces could significantly impact a refugee’s progress in a new country.

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the Netherlands but, by taking advantage of a loophole in a freedom of the press law, refugees are allowed to sell printed goods in a public space.

In a project called Printed Matters, the Dutch designer created portraits of refugees who then sell their prints, blurring the lines of labour and art.

Speculating on the future of food for the elderly

Hiromi Kimoto of Keio University SFC is in 2035 while we’re in 2018. A self-described collective dreaming researcher, Kimoto’s project, Food in our aging society, is a speculative exploration of food in the lives of the elderly.

Specifically, the project proposes a hands-on process of speculation and prototyping of the future of food in 2035 for elderly people through ethnographic research and ideation workshops with a wide range of people. Her project asks: In a society where the age gap is increasing, what will change in our everyday lives; what new problems will arise?

Kimoto believes that new ideas and solutions can be found by taking a bottom-up approach and collectively discussing the problems that could arise in our ever-changing world.

Rethinking migrant shelter

With refugee numbers on the rise and their living conditions under increasing obscurity, ECAL graduate Iskander Guetta has applied design thinking to question the current circumstances in Switzerland.

Switzerland is one of the last countries that still builds anti-nuclear bunkers. In peacetime, many of these bunkers are a shelter for the homeless and migrants without housing.  According to Guetta, living conditions there are really tough. His project,  Abri + is a set of objects – a lamp, a small bag, a curtain and some hooks – allowing for a more decent space to live in.

The project aims to provide creature comforts in an otherwise cold, institution-like surrounding. His hope is that  it will welcome the homeless and migrants in a more human way.

Collective politics in the arctic

RISD graduate Gavin Zeitz proposes that we create an inclusive economic zone in the Arctic. Right now Russia, America and China are each vying for control and influence in the region.

With the ice in the arctic receding, the world’s untapped fossil-fuel is at stake, according to CNBC. The arctic also holds a range of other resources such as gold, silver, diamond, copper, titanium, graphite, uranium and other valuable rare earth elements.

Zeitz’ project, The Arctic Commons seeks to subvert the “first come first serve” politics of global development which puts the objectives of the culturally elite at the forefront, perpetuating the circulation of wealth among those already at the top.

He wants to do this by creating a zoning protocol that is delineated not by arbitrary cartography, but by geophysical conditions such as ocean currents or drainage basins.

This way, “we begin to see a global landscape that is by the people and for the people,” he writes, adding, “This new zone is a provocation that the North can be a model for how we come together globally for the common heritage of humanity.”

In 2017, Design Indaba launched antenna with Dutch Design Week. A creative platform and do-tank like no other, alongside a design week like no other, we decided that it’s part of our design mandate to find and provide a platform for the next generation of impactful designers.

The inaugural conference was a success, ushering in the likes of Kelsey Wakefield, Myles Loftin, Fernando Laposse and Thandiwe Msebenzi among others. We’re confident that this year will be no different.

Meet the first five of 20 speakers announced for the 2018 event and book tickets now!

In the wake of #MeToo

A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Ellie Frymire watched the MeToo movement with a researcher’s keen eye.

What began with scathing reports on the numerous sexual assaults perpetrated by powerful men in Hollywood soon spiralled into a global consciousness on women’s rights and the lack of safety for women in all walks of life around the world.

It started when Alyssa Milano first used the hashtag prompting people to tell their own stories. What followed was a flood of experiences, building a community of support, natively and primarily through social media. The movement encouraged more women to come forward — not only validating the experience of victims, but exposing more perpetrators beyond those in Hollywood.

But is that all that was said within #metoo? Frymire’s project explores the text of tweets from the 6 months following the birth of the digitally native social movement. “By using unsupervised k-means cluster analysis, we can uncover organic themes,” she writes.

The project aims to answer the question: “what are people really saying with #metoo?”

Morality and consumption

Each time we pour milk into our morning coffee or grill a beef patty for a burger, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Adelaide Lala Tam wants us to think about something we’d much rather push from our minds: the life and death of a modern day cow.

The Hong Kong-born creative’s project 0.9 Grams of Brass shines a light on the hidden value of life in the meat industry. Particularly, the slaughter process.

While the environmental harm caused by the mass farming of cows has become a talking point internationally, the deaths of these animals remain unknown and undervalued.  They’re killed with a stun gun. Lala Tam has used the empty cartridge as a symbol in her project because it’s all that’s left after the slaughter of a cow.

She then melts the cartridge down and turns into an everyday paper clip, illustrating the diminished nature of the animal’s life. The process of turning a cartridge into a paper clip happens within a vending machine to question the ethical value in contrast to the monetary value of the practice.  The object sold from the machine is made from the 0.9 grams of brass cartridge casings and costs the same price as the bullet itself.

“The resulting brass paperclip (which has its origins in a system of mass production and distribution) is an object consecrated for daily use that serves as a constant reminder of the loss of an animal’s life,” she writes.

Product design for the disabled

When designing for people with disabilities, there’s no reason to sacrifice beauty. Aesthetics and functionality go hand in hand for Swedish product & furniture designer Ella Westlund. A student of Beckmans College of Design, Westlund set out to create inclusive, specialised products. Westlund’s sister has Down’s Syndrome and the designer has worked with and around disabled people for seven years. “I have always thought that they need better products in their life, products with real wood that they can touch and not cold metal and old plastic,” she writes. She created a product range called, Be a Part Of. It’s a modular sofa that considers wheelchair users. The furniture piece was specially designed for Korallen, a center for mental stimulation for children with functional disabilities in Sweden. The cavity in the middle is for parents to get closer to their children in wheelchairs. “To create for Korallen meant I could use my experience with disabled children and my knowledge as furniture designer and create a place where you can feel safe,” adds Westlund. The sofa was exhibited at the Stockholm Furniture Fair 2018 and will come into production in the fall of 2018.

Design for the mind

The benefits of meditation are well known. But what if you could monitor, learn and calm your mind to enhance your mental well-being? In the age of constant connectivity, Brighton University graduate and designer Freyja Sewell created Mind Mirror to function as a medical training device. Strapped to the user’s head, the Mind Mirror allows people to understand what is happening to their own brain during meditation. It helps people understand when they are in Flow State, a desirable mental state achieved through meditation. It’s made up of three elements: The neural lace made up of 32 Sensors on the head monitors the activity on the brain, providing data feedback represented in a soothing visual and audio format. The flat-pack Faraday Pod provides protection from stray electrical signals (Faraday waves) to the extremely sensitive sensors in the Neural Lace, improving accuracy. Her work, which includes traditional furniture and cutting edge technologies, is a fascinating look into Japanese design culture, a core source of inspiration in both her personal and professional life.

The future of mobility and autonomous driving

Most of Felix Ros’ work has been focused on future mobility, autonomous driving and multimodal interaction. The industrial design student from the Eindhoven University of Technology prides himself on being a digital designer who fell in love with the physical. Enter Scribble. Ros’ project speculates on the future of driving as autonomous mobility enters its next stage of evolution. As the autonomous vehicle makes split second decisions based on its sensors and information that is already known, Scribble, a haptic interface, allows the user to personalise this experience. For example, it would allow the user to plot the route of an autonomous car even if that route is yet to be explored and recorded on any map. This drawing based interaction is not driving nor being chauffeured around, it’s something in the middle.

Minimalist design for tangible impact

Gwen Gage is an industrial design graduate from Pratt Institute in New York. She decided to put her knowledge to the test in a social impact context. She began her process in rural Senegal where she found that volunteers were forced to travel long distances from rural villages to towns and cities to retrieve malaria medication. A pervasive disease that is better treated with early intervention, it was clear to Gage that the medication delivery system needed to be better suited to the environment in order to have a tangible impact. She created Velomed, a thin plastic strip that can be easily shipped with medication from the manufacturer. The strip can be cut to any length, filled with boxes, and rolled to secure. The rolled unit can be easily strapped to a bike or carried on a volunteer’s back, allowing the volunteer to transport dozens of boxes on each trip. To secure the units to a bike, one needs only a small bit of rope or bungee cord (something commonly used on bikes in the region). It’s a ‘less is more’ approach to design that she adopted after trial and error. “After many iterations I realised my ideas thus far were either too bulky or used overly convoluted mechanisms that made them unrealistic interventions. Many would have been too expensive for a volunteer to purchase and unlikely to be accessible to them anyways. So I shifted my focus to minimal material solutions.”

Progressive Economics

Martina Huynh is a graduate from the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, with a focus on design research and interaction design. She playfully translates research on societal changes into tangible experiences to further the discussion and make active proposals for alternatives. Her projects often take shape as multimedia performances, video essays or interactive installations, placed in an everyday context. Her most recent project, the Basic Income Café was inspired by the national debate in her home country of Switzerland in 2016. Basic income is an increasingly prominent topic in progressive economics. To manifest the debate in a physical, interactive space, she created an interactive installation with two basic income scenarios — modeled after the different intentions of Switzerland and Finland. Here, the flow of coffee visualises the flow of money. She writes: “Visitors are provoked to experience the underlying economic models first hand and while interacting with other participants are able to test social situations that are potential outcomes for the basic income scenarios.”

Antenna 2018

Antenna aims to take these young designers to the next phase of their careers by exposing them to experts and professionals in the antenna network. The programme, above and beyond their presentations, will work to expand their skills and networks, opening up a range of future opportunities. Like the antennae of the natural world, antenna aims to intuitively spot and react to the subtle signs in the world around us. The second edition of antenna will take place at Dutch Design Week on 22 October.

See the inaugural antenna class of 2017 | Tickets for the 2018 iteration are available now.

Credits: Design Indaba