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Design Futures Lab Exhibit at the Pearlstein Gallery

June 26, 2013 — From July 5 through July 21, the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery will host a collection of full-scale interactive design objects from the Design Futures Lab – a trans-disciplinary design research group led by Architecture + Interiors Assistant Professor Nicole Koltick. The  “Projects: 12/13” exhibit presents the work of six Master’s Interior Architecture and Design students pursuing a full year residency in the lab, featuring applied design research through a variety of approaches including: the exploration of novel form through generative design processes and digital fabrication techniques in 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC milling; enhanced interaction scenarios that deploy embedded electronics, sensors and microcontrollers; and the pursuit of tactile material, technological and procedural innovations.

Click here to visit the Design Futures Lab Website

There will be a public opening reception for the "Projects: 12/13" exhibit on Tuesday July 9 from 6-9 pm in the URBN Center Annex at 3401 Filbert Street, Philadelphia. 

The overall theme of the collection focuses on future domestic relationships with synthetic biology, external memory prosthesis, interactive sleep terrains and multi-sensory emotive environments.  


Design Futures LabDesign Futures Lab

Koltick’s interest in trans-disciplinary design approaches led to the creation of the Design Futures Lab in the fall of 2012. She encourages exhibit visitors to interact with the projects and immerse themselves in the designed future. “In my own research work, I had been increasingly pursuing collaborations with those outside of design disciplines including computer science, biology, engineering and bio-medical engineering,” she says. “I formed the Design Futures Lab into a trans-disciplinary research group that seeks to combine these disparate threads into cohesive design narratives, explored and explained through the development of prototyped designed objects, experiences and environments. It is an extension of my research investigations into the intersection of design, science, technology and aesthetics. This project arose from an effort to structure a trans-disciplinary design research process that students could rigorously engage with.” 

The lab currently collaborates with a variety of specialists in fields such as ecology, biology, biomedical engineering, interactive design and computer science. The lab mines the terrain of the complexity, philosophy and ecology of design to yield tangible outcomes that have relevance and interest for multiple disciplines and audiences. The synthesis of theory, procedures and technology from a variety of disciplines into compelling future design scenarios is a core mission of the lab. 


The “Projects 12/13” Exhibit Includes:

‘Technology at the Threshold” by Megan Mitchell

This research addresses the ability of an interactive threshold space to assist individuals in transitioning from one set of experiences, expectations and activities to another. Shedding layers of stress, digital connection and distracting impersonal thoughts of the outside world, this entry processional experience re-orients the participant to the present time and place.

“Memory Prosthetic” by Sarah Moores

The memory prosthetic is a wearable device that records an audio track when there is a detectable physiological change in the wearer. This thesis speculates on how memories form through emotional connections to events and the integration of technology and biological responses to enhance our awareness of these connections. The design scenario consists of a wearable device that records events with the assistance of biofeedback and a listening pod, which plays back the audio to enhance meditative reflection on selected moments throughout the day.

“Synthetic Biology: The Future of Adaptive Living Spaces” by Tashia Tucker

An exploration into the interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology and the future evolution of living materials are explored in this project through a collection of three dynamic surfaces. A kitchen, flooring and wall surface will speculate how biologically embedded materials could look and function in the future through the use of micro processing, depth imaging, a multi pedal sensor map and silicone casting.

“Sculpted Interactive Terrain [SIT]” by Katie McHugh

An integrated approach exploring potential connected human experiences and technology within one’s sleeping environment. The project speculates on a possible future interactive sleep environment anticipating the onset of billions of sensors in our environment. Through the discovery of sensing and actuating, an interactive prototype is designed that allows for the participant to play and discover new possibilities of inhabiting our future environments.

“Ambient Scent Communication” by Laura Nejman

Exploring the use of scent to improve human connection and emotional states. The emotional scent prototype is an exploration into how we can manipulate our emotional connections to one another through the use of scent linked to positive memories.  By using the subconscious' reaction to scent and pulling communication away from the screens of computers and phones, the emotional scent prototype explores a more nuanced way to communicate within our environments.

“Deviant Wear:” by Kim Brown

The pervasiveness of handheld computing has shifted how we experience and interact with our environment and filtered the physical world through a digital screen.  This project explores strategies for encouraging ambulatory exploration of the urban landscape through experimental prototyping with environmental sensors, physical feedback and audio graffiti.

The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery is located in the URBN Annex (3401 Filbert Street). The gallery boasts more than 3,500 square feet of exhibit space designed by architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R).


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