This issue covers the smart devices trend with a special focus on the importance of good design. We offer information on the latest connected objects for the home and talk to professionals who explain how to design IoT products. According to experts, technology in the future will be a core part of design. Better jump on board now.
We take you around the globe and unveil goodies from Dubai Design Week, Tokyo Design Week and office furniture fair Orgatec in Germany. In this issue, you’ll discover projects from some of the most renowned designers in Russia and the Philippines, and get inspiration for innovation from Japanese firm Takram. And that’s just the beginning.
Experts are now explaining what’s in store for the future of IoT and how to get there.
“Where design today focuses on physical products, design of the future will be about data-driven products and experience. Where innovation today is about creating new products, innovation of the future will be focused around...
Recently, Peter Taylor had an epiphany. He was at a restaurant with his young daughter who was annoyed that the lights were too bright. At home she was used to controlling the lights with her voice using Amazon Echo so she shouted:
“Alexa, lights off!”
The waiter was perplexed as to why a girl would talk to the lights, but it made Taylor and his wife laugh. To their daughter, all lights inherently would respond to her voice commands.
Over the 10 years he has been in the industry, people have continued to predict that the connected home would be just around the corner, and though different categories of devices have seen rapid growth rates of 15 to 40 percent annually, most studies estimate that no more than one in four Americans owns a smart home device.
“We’re still in the first wave of connected home devices, and it’s mostly early adopters using it. However, the trend is accelerating and big players like Google, Amazon and Apple are beginning to drive awareness to the category,” says Neil Strother, research analyst with Navigant Research focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT).
“It’s a Kind of Magic”
The promise of a truly intelligent home is alluring and some devices are gaining traction such as home security cameras, thermostats, lighting, door locks and smart plugs. This year Amazon Echo has people excited about home automation, a Bluetooth speaker acting as a personal assistant that sits in your home and responds to voice commands that can turn on the music, adjust your thermostat or add milk to your shopping list.
“It changes how you interact with things and it feels kind of magical,” says Strother.
While some connected devices still feel clunky and impractical—having to get your smartphone out of your pocket, unlocking the screen and finding the correct app to turn on the light—voice commands are intuitive and natural.
“Our living room has three lamps, a fan and a fish tank and when I say, ‘Alexa, turn on the living room,’ it’s a quite powerful moment to see all five things turn on at the same time,” says Taylor.
“Style matters! The home is a reflection of who you are and if you make a poorly designed product, it won’t be used,” says Strother.
WeMo wanted to create a smart plug that blended in at home, but were perhaps too successful, because consumers had a hard time differentiating it from a regular plug.
The home is a reflection of who you are.
“We probably underestimated the importance of design, and I think the next wave of products will have an increased emphasis on creating a more appealing device,” says Taylor.
Connected devices can save us time and money while providing peace of mind by making our home feel more secure. For instance, having a smart plug that automatically turns on your porch light at sunset and turns it off at sunrise.
“You’ll never have to touch the light switch again,” says Taylor.
Difficult even for the Tech Savvy
Connected living is not as simple as buying a new TV or computer—the smart home consists of dozens of vastly different elements, and the current challenge is devices that don’t necessarily talk to each other and require several different apps to control.
“I have 10 devices and the interoperability is such a pain and I haven’t found any killer apps. That’s a frustration many consumers have,” says David Westendorf, president of Binatone, a company that makes baby, home and pet monitors.
“It’s sketchy at best even for tech savvy people,” says Brian Reese, vice president of strategic innovation at Sears Holding Corporation.
Price is another factor, as many smart devices are far more expensive than their “dumber” versions, and even the staunchest tech lovers will probably hesitate to fork over $3,899 for Samsung’s Family Hub smart refrigerator.
And let’s not forget that hackers can break into any device connected to the Internet, best illustrated by a massive cyber attack in October, when hackers used smart home cameras and smart TVs—rather than computers—to crash websites such as Twitter, Netflix and The New York Times.
“But I think these challenges will be overcome the same way Internet banking has done it,” says Strother.
Banks are moving away from usernames and passwords and toward fingerprint scans, device detection and other more secure techniques to identify their customers, Inscoe says. In the near future, they might even use other biometrics like iris scans, facial recognition or voice prints. – Read more here.
Nest Protect fire detector
It’s a Marathon
The transformation of our homes will likely be a marathon and the starting signal has just only sounded.
“We’re at the same stage as the Internet was at in 1995. We see a lot of possibility and interest but we have yet to solve the challenge of making it easy for the consumer,” says Reese.
Most of the current devices are merely connected, but the vision for the future is to make them truly smart by intuitively predicting and offering what you need. Most experts believe that we won’t even be talking about the smart home in the future, since it will be as ubiquitous as electric outlets in your home.
“Pretty much everything is going to be connected in 10 years,” says Taylor.
10 devices making your home smarter:
August Smart Lock – unlock your door with your smartphone and monitor who is entering and leaving your home while you’re away. Works with Apple HomeKit
Ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat – Nest’s thermostat may get all the attention but Ecobee’s alternative is pretty solid too, especially for larger households
Philips Hue – turn your lights on and off remotely or change the color with these smart light bulbs that also work with a range of other connected home devices
Netgear Arlo Q – this Wi-Fi enabled security camera can stream video to your phone or computer and will notify you if it detects motion
Amazon Echo – it may look like a regular Bluetooth speaker but ask the digital assistant Alexa any question and she will help you searching the Web, turn the music, set alarms and other things
Nest Protect – this smoke and carbon monoxide detector alerts you and can send notifications to your phone when you’re away and can be turned off by a wave if it’s just you’re steak burning on the stove
Belkin WeMo Switch – the easiest way to start smartening your home is this switch. Plug anything into this smart switch and control it through your smartphone or create automation rules through IFTTT
EyeSight SingleCue – allows you to control anything from your TV to your lights and climate control by hand gestures and a flick of a finger
Sleep Number It – even the bed is getting intelligent with sensors tracking and optimizing your sleep. You can also adjust the firmness of the bed through an app and it communicates with a range of other devices
Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator – this smart fridge has a large touchscreen (with a calendar, notes, music and other apps) and three cameras that take a photo whenever you close the door so you can keep track of when you’re out of milk
The latest incarnation of Tokyo Design Week—the annual celebration of the best, brightest and future of contemporary Japanese art, architecture, and design—was struck by tragedy this year, when a fire at one of the exhibitions on the penultimate day of the two-week event sadly claimed the life of a five-year-old boy...
ArchiExpo recently explored the design scene in the Philippines, one of the primary sources for the wood, bamboo, rattan, stone and other ecological materials used by designers around the world in creating innovative design projects.
We began our first week walking through the tree-lined pathways of Nicanor Garcia Street in the busy district of Makati City, where we met budding designer Joseph Rastrullo at Le Coude Rouge and veteran designer Vito Selma.
A further walk down the street brought us to the sprawling white modern showroom of internationally renowned interior design expert, Ito Kish, where he shared with us his newest collection, called Binhi.
Binhi by interior design expert Ito Kish
We flew to Cebu, an island in the south of the Philippines renowned for its artisanal designs, to meet with top designer Kenneth Cobonpue, famous for his furniture pieces adorning the houses of Hollywood celebrities and the lobbies of the world’s most luxurious hotels. It was at his newly opened bar, Morals & Malice, that we discussed his latest collection, described as Cirque.
Back in Manila, architect Royal Pineda and the Philippines’ interior design guru and pioneer Budji Layug provided us with information on their design firm and latest projects. As we caught up with the powerhouse duo, young and upcoming designer Jim Torres shared with us his latest metal installation called Propaganda.
All exclusive information in the timeline below.
*In Time: Interviews conducted and words by Vanessa Liwanag. Selection of designers and architects by Online Managing Editor of ArchiExpo e-Magazine, Erin Tallman.
Although Russian product design scene is somewhat hidden from the eyes of the global design community, Russia has indeed emerged as a home to many young and ambitious designers striving to bring their message and ideas across. ArchiExpo caught up with some of them in Moscow and St. Petersburg to chat about their latest projects and the trends they follow or shun.
Talk to any designer or design school professor in Russia, and you will be reminded that the word “design” was banned in Soviet Russia until the very end of 1980s. Before that, it was called artistic engineering or technical aesthetics.
For most of Russia’s contemporary designers and architects, all this is nothing but history. While some of them admit that the country’s craft and manufacturing scene, the outdated customs laws, procedures and other bureaucratic hurdles make it difficult for designers to create things and showcase their creations in the rest of the world easily, the product design scene is growing stronger day by day, offering a dazzling variety of concepts and approaches.
Moscow-based designer Katerina Kopytina has just published her new project, The One—a tiny stylish 1500 mAh power bank for the iPhone she designed for Singapore-based ONE Mobile Technologies. Released in three colors, black, tiffany blue and coral, The One is a stylish, soft-coated power bank designed for big-city people who are always on the move.
“It’s very compact, so it can easily fit into a purse, pocket or a backpack, but it is also multipurpose. It has two wires for charging and transferring files from mobile to other devices at the same time,” Katerina says. The One also has tiny magnets inside its body to shove in the connectors making the power bank ‘‘almost alive,” she adds.
The One by Moscow-based designer Katerina Kopytina
Katerina’s 2015 project, The Kuiper Belt—a series of ceramic pots fixed on shaped metallic frames resembling objects in the Solar System—remains her favorite, as it carries almost sacred meaning. After she dedicated the project to as-yet-undiscovered life forms and named it The Kuiper Belt, researchers found evidence of a giant planet in the outer solar system. The object, which they nicknamed Planet Nine, is located in the field of icy objects and debris beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper Belt. “This project became quite popular so I am starting mass production now. Also, the whole design community now knows about Kuiper Belt,” Katerina says.
Fitodom by Ekaterina Vagurina
Kuiper Belt was designed as a part of Naturalist, a 2015 collective project of several Russian product designers initiated by IZBA Team. Another young designer, Ekaterina Vagurina, who is currently based in St. Petersburg and is originally from Murmansk, the extreme Northwest of Russia, was also a part of this project. For ‘Naturalist’, she came up with Fitodom, an organizer for houseplants that affixes to a wall.
St. Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design graduate Ekaterina Vagurina was always intrigued by ceramics and unusual combination of various materials. A wooden vertical balk with white ceramic pots of different shapes and sizes moving up and down along the balk axis is her attempt to rethink the way indoor plants can be arranged.
Another project of hers, The Krater, is a set of dishes for fruits and cookies. Three differently shaped dishes made of painted porcelain, wood and engineered stone form a single dish that saves space and serves as a fancy showpiece. “The bottom plate is currently made of lightweight concrete, but I am now trying to work it out with ceramics—this material is much closer to the functionality of dishes, although the geometry of the project is too complex and unusual for such material as ceramics,” Katerina says.
Maxim Scherbakov, another designer from St. Petersburg who is running Plan-S23 studio along with designer Alexey Galkin, participated in Naturalist with Plantscape project with a tricky experiment around the concept of survival of the plants in urban environments dominated by concrete and bitumen.
“Plantscape is a polygon with multiple scenarios where the plants may have to find their own way to the light,” Maxim explains. The designers recreated several urban scenarios—pipelines, gaps between concrete slabs, paving tiles, ventilation and sewage hatches. The combination of limestone and brass in Plantscape was mainly inspired by the stylistics of the Soviet architecture of late ’70s, when limestone was often used for the facades and brass for smaller details.
“Russian product design is a bit plain at the moment because of manufacturing constraints, but the industry is developing fast and there are really interesting projects out here,” Maxim says adding that Russian designers are currently turning back to country’s rich art heritage of last century, mainly Russian avant-garde, for inspiration and ideas.
Maxim’s recent projects like stationary kit K-1 (or Konstruktor-1) inspired by Soviet construction toys and set of P-1 chairs made of metal rods and plywood are inspired by the aesthetic innovation of avant-garde and the philosophy of Russian Constructivism. “It is a source of inspiration rather than just borrowing the techniques, it happens intuitively,” Maxim says.
Sergey Estrin Architectural Studio
Minimalism, practicality and tendency to use natural materials likewood or ceramics are also common for product designers in Russia, and a central theme of one of Sergey Estrin Architectural Studio (AMSE)’s latest interior designs. Back in Moscow, Sergey Estrin and his team experiment with forms, shapes and materials.
When creating his award-wining interior of the public spaces of Eurasia Tower in Moscow City, the multifunctional high-rise complex in the heart of Russian capital, Estrin, a graduate of Moscow Architectural Institute, experimented with forest themes. The entrance hall of the office building is decorated with stylized tropical trees with massive trunks and wide crowns, each with unique details. The reception desks resemble fallen logs and are manufactured by Russian design company Nayada. In the office areas of the building, the designer created ceiling decor that resemble tree tops, using wood and veneer along with soft lights, while in the retail spaces he chose dark and solid metallic columns and panels.
AMSE’s design of a country house in Zhukovka village for a VIP client is the studio’s latest experiment with large spaces. “Decorative techniques do not really work in such spaces, so we had to use architectural techniques by working around scale, proportions and the rhythm. The variety of materials and techniques used for the interiors of this villa is impressive: solid walnut combined with natural stone for the flooring, stained solid wood among other materials for the ceilings, textured plaster and leaf copper for the walls and, finally, leather, glass, perforated copper and brass for the doors and other details. The challenge, according to Estrin, was to make the interiors of the house suitable for the owners’ status and comfortable for living at the same time.
AMSE’s design of a country house in Zhukovka village for a VIP client
Among the many delights this international trade fair for the working world has to offer, in the far back of Hall 8 we spotted an amazing materials exhibition with a number of impressive and intelligent designs. During a speech in Milan last April, Tom Dixon said that designers LOVE materials, and it might come as no surprise, but “70% of all innovations are being based on new material,” Haute Innovation.
No wonder then at this year’s exhibition, several objects made from surprising and natural materials caught viewers’ attention from their beautiful design. Coffee cups made from ground coffee beans, a bicycle helmet made from linen fibers, high heels made from ocean plastic and and plenty more to catch the eye and get the imagination running.
It was 2009 in Italy when the smell of ground coffee beans was on its way to becoming something more. One intense study night after the next, with a hefty coffee intake, German product designer Julian Lechner—studying in Italy at the time—had an idea. He tookcoffee wasteand turning it into a renewable raw material used to produce new objects. By 2015 the first espresso cup made from coffee waste was on the market. Kaffee Form, based in Germany, collects coffee grounds from the local Berlin Gastronomy, where the grounds are then dried, packed and shipped.
French duo Etienne-Marie de Boissieu and Benoit Denis founded EGIDE in 2014, a new French brand specialised in high-end helmets for urban cycling, include the linen in their products. Linen hemet in their Apollo collection, amidst other gems on display at the materials exhibition, shines beautifully. The eco-friendly and natural vegetable fiber has great shock-absorbing properties. EGIDE has the fibers undergo resin molding with an anti-UV and scratch-resistant varnish.
Linen hemet in the Apollo collection by French brand EGIDE
Diana Drewes from the agency Haute Innovation in Berlin presented a stool made from mushroom MDF; Laura Spilker’s Walk & Talk high heels made from ocean plastic was on display; Plant-e showed how living plants can generate electricity; Jarrell Goh introduced his Potato chair, made from starchy vegetables like potatoes that are blended, dehydrated and used as a casting material, then dried and bound with flour glue, dried again and finished with a homemade milk-based sealant.
A stool made of waste from the potato industry, furniture from sea grass, fibers from the remnants of the citrus juice production or antiseptic birch bark: the precursors of the next generation’s product culture, in which a sustainable handling of our resources is in the foreground and is becoming more and more evident. Natural residues from the food industry or forestry are often found in the production of materials. Designers define properties of the materials, which so far could only have been realized with considerable effort or using chemical products.
It’s an amazing time in the world for designers to play with materials to better living for all.
High heels made from ocean plastic designed by Laura Spilker