Spring has sprung, and here at the studio we’re in full bloom. Check out what we’ve been up to, and find out what we’ve got coming up over the next few months.
It’s the end of January already and as the year starts to heat up, we’re momentarily looking backwards to review the work and activities of the year gone by. 2016 was an equally challenging and rewarding year for the studio. In the autumn we moved into our new studio space at Somerset House Studios and have been firing on all cylinders ever since.
But before we go into a proper review, the best news: We have just launched our new identity, and website! With huge thanks to Superscript² for visual identity and branding, Sonia Dominguez for web design, toutenpixel for web development, Geetika Alok for colour advise, Tim Maughan for wordsmithing advice, Marianna for the comms, and Vytas for the tremendous project management. We will continue fixing bugs so all feedback welcome.
This talk explores the deep disconnection between the ‘future’ and how it manifests in our everyday lives.
We worked with Informa, FundForum and Group Flow on a project to bring a brand new FinTech startup to market: Mūtō Labs. Mūtō Labs investigates the effect of new technologies on the future of the finance and asset management industries.
Over ten years ago, I did a project that explored scenarios of a ‘post-apocalyptic civilization’. It was a time when the rumblings of climate change had only just begun to be felt in the public domain. Today things are different. It’s hard to escape the news, certainly impossible to not experience the actual effects of extreme weather conditions, just one of the many signs of climate change.
Unbelievably, its summer already. The studio has been a hive of frenzied activity for the last six months, and in this post we wanted to share some of our top highlights of projects and activities.
This article discusses the growing interest in drones and the challenges around regulations, cities, and infrastructure.
Yet another year gone by. As we edge towards 2016, we would like to take a moment to thank those of you who gave us your trust, support, advise and time. It’s been a good year for the studio and for this we remain grateful.
Here’s a quick glimpse of our 2015 highlights.
Mangala For All: The year started with us roaming the streets of Ahmedabad, India with miniature Mangalyaan space probes. The project has been a fascinating discovery of India’s space ambitions within the context of global (meta)geopolitics and the commercial space industry.
Drone Aviary at the V&A: Through a series of drone models, publications and films this project investigated the social, political and cultural potential of drone technology as it enters civil space. It has been shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design 21_21 Tokyo, Museo Villa Croce (Inaugurazione di RAM House), and ZKM Karlsruhe, and will continue touring in 2016.
Superflux Magazine: We launched an amorphous magazine! The first issue designed as a double sided A1 poster titled ‘Cartographies of the Sky’ explores the vertical geographies and digital infrastructures that cities will need in order to accommodate civilian drones. It has an editorial by Warren Ellis and short drone fictions from Tim Maughan.
Uninvited Guests: With a focus on IoT and connected homes within the context of elderly healthcare and remote tracking, our short film for Thingtank explores the frictions between an elderly man and his smart home.
BuggyAir: Following our winning application for Innovate UK’s IoT Launchpad Competition we have built, and are testing working prototypes of an accurate mobile sensing kit that helps parents understand their children’s exposure to air pollution.
Data Futures: We developed the strategy and accompanying narratives, scenarios, and artifacts around future of data and alternate financial institutions for a client. The project investigates the changing value of data as currency, and the role of technologies such as IoT and distributed ledgers within this new landscape.
How Will We Live?: My opening keynote at NEXT Conference in Hamburg, Germany connected seemingly disparate ideas of psychology, chunking, artificial intelligence, drones, refugees, and political activism to paint a picture of our contemporary lives.
Knotty Objects, MoMA and MIT Media Lab I was fortunate to contribute to the first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design, Knotty Objects which gathered designers, scientists, engineers, makers, writers, curators, and scholars to examine the transdisciplinary nature of contemporary design. Here’s the video from my session ‘Manufactured Objects‘.
Drone workshops: Jonathan Flint and Jon Ardern led a series of drone making workshops with young people (aged 13-16) introducing them to the technology through a series of making and Q&A sessions. There have been some great results so far.
State of Eindhoven: In October, I joined the City of Eindhoven’s ‘Smart Council’ to confront and provoke policymakers, designers and businesspeople as the city shapes up its remit as a ‘participatory smart city’. More on the ongoing work and related publications soon.
Team: Jonathan Flint and Vytautas Jankauskas joined us as full time designers / makers / researchers, and alongwith our newly recruited studio manager, we are really pleased with how the team is shaping up.
Press & Media: Motherboard, Dezeen, BBC Futures, VICE, Creative Applications, Creators Project were some of the publications who featured our work. Also, the brilliant newspaper ‘Paprika‘ from Yale School of Architecture interviewed us for their latest edition.
We leave you with Ursula Franklin‘s definition of peace as our hope for 2016:
“not so much the absence of war but the presence of justice… the absence of fear… a commitment to the future.”
Through a series of ongoing installations, films and publications, the project aims to give a glimpse into a near-future city co-habit with ‘intelligent’ semi autonomous, networked, flying machines.
We are a research and design studio. We imagine, investigate, design, build and test ways in which technologies influence and shape our worlds. As our work explores the complex, often intangible nature of technology, we are always interested in finding new, tangible forms for sharing our thinking, processes and outcomes. A conversation with Warren Ellis few months ago resulted in the idea of a new kind of magazine. A magazine that has a constantly evolving form, a magazine whose physicality becomes a means of provocation in itself. Warren said he would be happy to be the Editor and titled the magazine SUPERFLUX. Warren has written a great editorial and writer Tim Maughan has written a series of exceptionally pertinent short fictions for this edition.
So here it is, SUPERFLUX, Issue 1.
ABOUT THIS ISSUE:
This first edition of SUPERFLUX focuses on our ongoing R&D project Drone Aviary, which explores the social, political and cultural potential of drone technology as it enters civil space. The illustration ‘Cartographies of the Sky’ on the front is a speculative map exploring the vertical geographies and digital infrastructures that cities will need in order to accommodate civilian drones. From restricted zones to geofences, flight paths to charging stations, it looks at how our airspace may become divided and occupied in the years to come. We hope it can act as a tool for contemplation, raising critical questions around the future of public space and ownership of the skies above our heads. The other side captures the project’s thematic concerns around our changing relationships with algorithmic intelligence and increasingly autonomous machines. We designed a series of civilian drones with specific tasks and functions that represent the convergence of wider social and technological trends. (The work is currently on show at the V&A as part of the All Of This Belongs To You show.)
We collaborated with Tim Maughan for the project, who wrote brilliant short fictions for each drone, and an introductory piece on how we hope to present the work as a live experience. From the Superflux team: Jon Ardern and myself (creative direction), Katarina Medic (map and poster design), Jon Flint, Yosuke Ushigome (drone designs), Dillon Froelich and Georgina Bourke (map concept development) have been instrumental in bringing it to life.
We are thrilled to have this out in the world, and are grateful to our colleagues at Superflux, Tim Maughan and Warren Ellis for making this a reality.