for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

I <3 Siftables

I’m a HUGE fan of this idea from MIT grad student David Merrill and really hope these go into production soon. I tweeted a link to this the other week but have only just come across the video of his presentation at TED earlier this month. No point me explaining more- just watch the video below or here, or read more about the project here

Vodpod videos no longer available.

David’s last thought at the end of his presentation: “My passion is for making new human computer interfaces that are a better match to the ways our brains and bodies work… We are on the cusp of this new generation of tools for interacting with digital media, that are going to bring information into our world, on our terms”

Filed under: talent worth watching, technology, Uncategorized, visions of the future



Showcased at Seamless, a “fashion event featuring innovative and experimental works in computational apparel design, interactive clothing, and technology-based fashion” organized by MIT Media Lab graduate students, Markus Kison’s ‘Charming Burka’ is a digitally-enabled covering that gives the wearer the option of electronically displaying the face they are being made to hide. A controversial product, though not explicitly forbidden by Islamic law, the burka apparently deals with Freud’s idea that all clothes can be positioned between appeal and shame.

The German designer describes the concept behind his project:

The Burka was chosen because it is often perceived in the west as a symbol of repression. Then a digital layer was added to it so that women can decide for themselves where they want to position themselves virtually. The Burka sends an image, chosen by the wearer, via bluetooth. Every person next to her can receive her picture via mobile phone and see the woman’s self-determined identity. The laws of the Koran are not broken, so the Charming Burka fulfills the desire of living a more western life, which some Muslim women desire today. the Burka is equipped with bluetooth antenna/micro-controller and uses the OBEX protocol, already working with most mobile phones.

Although the “Charming Burka” is positioned in the context of religion, this project should be seen as a research towards the future possibilities of everyday clothing to own a digital layer and transmit additional information about its wearer. It questions which information people would choose to send. For example this might also be an image of their “Second Life” avatar.

Markus Kison – also the creator of the Vanity Ring

Filed under: products with a purpose, talent worth watching, ,

Interactive Wildlife Projections

Picture_6_1Wildlife is a new interactive installation project by Karolina Sobecka using videos of wild animals projected from moving cars onto buildings. Using a similar idea to her earlier work Chase, the animal’s movements are programmed to correspond with the car’s speed, meaning the animal speeds up and slows down with the car- due to sensors monitoring the wheel rotation. For this piece one main tiger (and corresponding vehicle) is used, with additional animals appearing in the projection as reflections of passing vehicles and pedestrians.

Karolina uses the city as her medium, combining technology and philosphy in gritty, urban settings in an attempt to make the world more beautiful and meaningful.

Watch a video of the projections
shown as part of ZeroOne San  Jose International Symposium of Electronic Art 2006

Filed under: arts & culture, talent worth watching


Zoo art fair opened it’s doors for the third year running in the great setting of London Zoo on friday (or thursday for some of us lucky few) to a huge surge of people eager to snap up new emerging artists’ work, and invest in the Next Big Thing.
Of the talent on display here is my pick of the new names that I think are worth watching for the future-


‘White Underneath’ are a collection of vintage portrait photographs from the late 1800s which the artist has painted over to replace the white face of the original sitter with a black one of a member of his family. He explains it as “experimenting with transgressive interventions on paintings as a means of undermining hierarchical roles of the past and imposing them on contemporary narratives”.

Titus has just graduated from Yale and been awarded the prestigious artist-in-residency programme from the Studio Museum, Harlem.


A recent graduate of Camberwell College of Art, ‘So How was It?’ is one of Robert’s delicate pencil works combining soft atmosphere with quirky humour. All four of his pieces have already sold, but look out for more offerings in his first solo show next year


‘Fiat Coupe 2.0 Turbo’ is just one of Raffael’s amazing photographs of crashed luxury cars. His pictures are observations of everyday objects and locations that have lost their original function- in this case taken live at the crash scene (the police call to notify him whenever a sports car crashes), and the resulting images seem hyper-real. Due to have his first solo gallery show in Berlin in November


‘Mental Passages’ is an installation of 54 typographical images, each one representative of the artist’s emotion at the time of conception. The artist is a recent graduate from his native Mexico and has already been picked up by the MOMA Mexico, plus there are plans to produce the images as a book. An ironic title considering the extortionate price tag on this piece- £5000!

Filed under: talent worth watching, Uncategorized, ,


The Truman Brewery was bursting with creative talent for London Design Week last weekend. From 100% East, Talentzone, In Production, (re) Design, and Design Mais, we felt exhausted by the huge amount of work on display. It was almost a relief to be told that we couldn’t go into the too-full New Designers Selection exhibition!

There was a great array of ideas on show, mostly from graduate designers and young design companies, showing a wealth of products- the main recurrent themes of which seemed to be the importance of creating honesty in materials; a continuation of the movement towards traditional crafts such as ceramics; adding an importance and beauty to products through hidden aspects of design; and unique space-saving designs, with humour playing an ever-important role.

As a brief round-up here are my favourite products from each show; items and designers that I think will be important to the future of product design-


Luis Eslava’s USB saint, called ‘Oh Maria Keep my Data Safe’- a religious icon as memory stick which poses the idea of computers being the new religion

Img_0742Giles Miller’s fluted corrugated cardboard laptop case, which ‘gives you the chance to show the world that you care about sustainable design’.


Ali Cayless’ Rememberance Sideboard, with a series of secret openings and ‘hidden surpsrises’ such as personalised felt designs on the inside, drawing on the idea of childhood exitement and posessional values.

Img_0748Emiko Oki’s Salty Bell brings fun to the dinner table by taking a glass bell and adding holes along the rim to create a salt or pepper shaker which you ring for seasoning!
Her Trophy Tableware set is also an ingenious use of design- a set of simple stylish crockery that stacks together to create a trophy. Her pieces aim to ‘add to the dining experience, and to function aesthetically whilst not in use’

Talent Zone, a specially selected showcase of the best UK design graduates-

-Kathryn Hennesy’s take on garden gnomes- recreating the ceramic figurines holding machine guns, shows a subversive twist on an English classic


Tomasz Donocik’s ‘A Hero of Our Time’ horsehair and gold horsehead jewellery pieces for men were disturbingly beautiful

Img_0763Angel Ha’s interactive ceramics seen in her ‘Peel to Reveal’ crockery, envite you to rub the surface to remove top layer and reveal a different world of design underneath


Ernie Bakker’s Spira table is based on the old-style giant spiragraph sets- placed on top of a tablecloth, where the coaster, placemat and food stand all interact to provide artistic entertainment during your meal.


Shiv Kumar’s elegant table plays with the idea hidden beauty and peeling away the wood to reveal hidden colour.

In Production– exhibition curated by trend consultancy The Future Laboratory showcasing their selection of the best of contemporary British design in production, cleverly displayed as a peep-show

-Paint By Numbers Wallpaper by Jenny Wilkinson has already been lauded as a design classic

Timorous_beastiesTimorous Beasties fabrics- having won numerous design awards for their depiction of contemporary images on traditional textiles such as their Glasgow and London toiles, this textile design company is going from strength to strength


– ‘Lady Lush’ blown glass decanters by Romy Westwood look at British manufacturing traditions, challenging the idea of ornamental and functional objects.


– ‘Else’ leather benches by Julia Lohmann are made of a single cowhide and shaped to represent a cow, exploring the threshold between animal and material


-‘Villosus’ porcelain andhorsehair vases, and ‘Candle 1’ all wax candle and candelabra by Fredrikson Stallard. The company describe their pieces as “Fairy tales for grown ups; combining simple surface narratives with underlying themes of opulent and sensual darkness.”

Design Mais, curated by Max Fraser, was showcasing the best of Portuguese design and production collaborations. A clever way of attracting attention to the manufacturers as well as the designers, pieces displayed information from both.


-‘Soho’ multi-design chest of drawers by Pedro Sonsa, produced by Menina Design

-‘Miss Moon’ White Armchairs produced by Truffa for Sensicasa, pained pink underneath to produce a coloured glow

-‘Homesick Kit’ suitcase by Lilia Borges, Helena Silva &Joao Loureiro, and produced by Li&Fung- a company that integrates textiles, ceramics and glass sectors

(re) Design exhibition looked at eco-design products from a range of companies who utilise ecological and ethical design paths. The brochure asks ‘Can gorgeous design also be good- for you, for others and for the environment?’. A mixture of new and slightly older design ideas, there were a couple of great ideas that looked at the efficient use of materials.

-8’ x 4’ by Richard Broom Designs, which creates a chair, coffee table, dining table and picture frame out of a single 8’ x 4’ ply sheet

-‘Reholstered’ by Space Oddity who had taken an old office chair and given it a new lease of life by attaching a handcrafted ash seat and back, playing with the ideas of man-made and machine mass-production.

-Book bookcase by Carpenter & Carpenter which uses second-hand books instead of wood to create a wall-mounted bookcase

-Big Crush by Studiomold, where  crushed plastic bottles are re-used and stacked into a tower to make a lamp


-Luggage Sofa by Love Me Twice who have taken an old suitcase and upholstered the inside to create a portable sofa!

Filed under: talent worth watching, , ,


Img_0733London Design Week would not be complete without seeing the young international designers showcased in the empty Nicholls and Clarke building on Shoreditch high street by Designersblock. The least known of the established shows,  this exhibition still managed to pack a a pretty strong punch, with a wide array of original and intelligent products on offer.

As always humorous, quirky products were abundant. Those we preferred included design duo Mixko’s
‘Goal’ t-shirts printed on the inside so that when your team scores the hidden text is revealed in celebration! Mixko’s objective is “to create items that inspire happiness and possess a satisfying simplicity”, and it’s definitely achieved here.

Dejana Kabiljo’s ‘Pretty Pretty’ stools, covered with dyed horsehair wigs, are both disturbing and beautiful. Her products play with the idea of beauty and “search for the innovation on the level of human behaviour”, and Dejana plans to pursue this theme with a variety Pasta_per_metre_1of hairstyles and furniture.

Seven Squatters, a group of industrial design graduates from Central St Martins showed some great ideas including ‘Who Tall are You’ by Ismaril Wells which looks at the evaluation of self image, stating “no matter how short you consider yourself to be you’ll always be taller than Img_0711someone great” and ‘Measure Your Pleasure’ by Marina Lariviere, looking at food habits and attitude- inside the packaging is roll of fresh pasta with recipes printed in edible ink running every 50cm to enable not only the preparation of healthy meals but also the consumption of the recommended amount. Marina explained the idea as a do-it-yourself approach, a food version of Ikea!

Looking at adapting religion into 21st century lifestyles is Soner Ozenc’s digital prayer mat, using flexible technology that lights up when pointed in the direction of Mecca. The designer explained how the aim was to combine tradition and contemporary pixel arts, trying to evoke an emotional atmosphere whilst creating a fully functioning product. The item is currently in production and will be launched in a couple of months.

iTattoo is another idea by the same designer; a customisation engraving service for your gadgets “transforming your product into a unique art piece”

Img_0727Combining design and art, Scott Garcia’s ‘Embedded Meanings’ concrete tables combine functional objects in an elegant way and display the decorative potential of concrete.

Eco friendly design is taken to a different level in the Wattson by DIY Kyoto (seen also at the Digital Wellbeing Showroom). The product’s primary function is to read how many watts each appliance in your house uses, bur also sits as a piece of design in its own right.

Space saving designs were showcased by Japanese design group Link- Nobuhira Teshima’s ‘Mobile Dining’ is a cupboard on wheels that folds out concertina-style into a large table, and Hiroshi Ujiie’s ‘Hanger Mirror’ combines the two essential items in an elegant, simplified manner.

Guinea Pig Design have created conceptual products “with the aim of challenging existing human behaviour via alternative methodologies” – ‘On The Shelf’ is a row of glass boxes each containing a single fake flower individually and randomly lit. The designers describe it as ‘each fake flower awaits its turn in the spotlight, dreaming of celebrity status for more than a few momentary seconds’ – I wonder what point they’re trying to make here!!!


Others to watch out for- Deus ex Machina
– an international group of designers looking to transform objects away from public preconceptions and bring an element of surprise, such as mounting them on remote controlled wheels, as the designers say ‘Imagine if objects escaped when you tried to touch them’.

Img_0724_1Also showing as part of Designersblock was DMA (Design Metiers d’art)- a french organisation that organises collaborations between designers and craftsmen with an aim to developing local economies and highlighting the craft professions, or as they say “set up as a source of and catalyst for new economic, social and cultural singularity and identity.”. This was their first show of work and focussed on copper and silversmiths working alongside a mix of graduate and established designers, with the next planned show to be a collaboration with designers and basketmakers.

So many talented young international designers under one roof, where else but London do you get such great brain food!

Filed under: talent worth watching, , ,


Liberty has teamed up with design curator Max Fraser over London Design Week, and the result is Design UK: an exciting array of contemporary furniture and home accessories showcased in the stunning Tudor building of the department store. As a collection of pieces they range from the handmade, intricately decorative wallpapers of Catherine Hammerton, to the simplified functional lines of NaughtOne’s ‘trace table’, each piece making a unique statement and yet fitting together surprisingly harmoniously.

The feeling of the show was of the importance of both the artist and artisan, with many pieces exhibiting a true respect for material and production. Favourite examples are the witty ‘Perfect Crime’ cast concrete chair by Peter Woollin and Kate Staddon which is shown opposite the innovative hand crafted leather and wood chair byImg_0688 Helen Murray .

Text seems to be playing an increasingly important role in product design, illustrated best here by Tracy Kendall’s bespoke wallpaper which was laser-cut with paragraphs of words, turning walls into stories.

Decoration of mundane objects is a topic that many young designers are addressing, none better in this show than Laurie Dickason’s elegant sinewy switch decorations. Other impressive displays include Jess Shaw’s ‘Clarinet’ lighting and CJ O’Neill’s ‘Feeding Desire’ decorative plates pierced with words and images.

Favourite piece of the show however was ironically the only piece disguising its design to blend into its environment – the ‘Up and Over’ bookcase by Linden Davies, cleverly designed to make the books a real feature of the room by encasing the door frame. A refreshingly  unassuming product creating a beautiful and personal result.


Filed under: talent worth watching, ,


PughLondon clearly has the cream of young talent showcasing this season. From the vibrant coloured elastic bandage mini dresses of Christopher Kane to the latex masked models in Gareth Pugh’s geometric black and white plastic creations, via the delicately embellished knitwear of Clare Tough and the perfectly tailored shirts of Richard Nicoll, the catwalks were keenly promoting the bright future of fashion. Not to be outdone, the slightly more established generation including Jonathan Saunders, Emma Cook, Giles and Ashish showed some of their best collections that were exciting and wearable, proving that they are still one step ahead with both the talent and a clear understanding of their market.


Not that anyone was averse to a little competition-summed up best in the t-shirt Gareth Pugh wore at his show on Tuesday saying ‘Get Yer Freak On Giles Deacon’, which was rebuffed at Giles’ show yesterday when he came out in a t-shirt saying ‘Uhu Gareth Pugh’!

Despite all this exceptional talent, London is still lacking the recognition it deserves- I was shocked to see that Womenswear Daily aren’t even covering the shows. Luckily there are so many ‘fashionistas’ blogging their way through the week, and of course there’s always for some really great and succinct show analysis.

Here’s my pick of the links- is a clear winner
Time Out – good articles from the new designer shows
I am fashion


Filed under: talent worth watching, ,


Part 1 of the new designers exhibition at the business design centre showed some interesting new ideas. Graduates seemed to be utilising new university equipment with a wide variety of lazercut fabrications and soft watercolour-wash digital prints. Alongside the typical graduate over-embellished and victoriana-inspired designs, themes that stood out were travel- especially in the form of military equipment and topographical mapping, and the strong use of lines of text in designs, as well as a clear rise in the use of embroidery. The 1980s was also still a big inspiration point for many with pop graphics and naive cartoony motifs seen everywhere, and oriental influences were also obvious.

Ones to watch out for in the future:
-David Mitchell (Somerset College)- black felted tree print on a jigsaw of black slate slabs. Surface textures with a sinister air
-Polly Burton (Chelsea College of Art and Design) – small-scale repeat prints on reels of fabric tape/ ribbon
-Sam Jones – felted geometric prints on latex
-Tomasz Dovocik (RCA) – violent and provocative jewllery using horse hair, twisted cord and gold spears
-Kyeok Kim (RCA) – light-emitting jewellery that shines tatooed motif across the body

There seemed to be an increased interest in organic fabrics and ecological issues, but Laura Nathan’s mosaic of cubes of soap covered in a varying thickness of hair (seen below) was the most unique adaptation of natural resources seen!

  • New Designers
  • Filed under: talent worth watching, ,