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Work / Product Design

Banning tech in bed and unread messages: what’s design got to do with it?

Since becoming curator of The Aram Gallery, I’ve aimed to present exhibitions showing design in a wider context. One of the gallery’s founding remits is to make our field relevant and accessible to everyone – something the industry hasn’t been good at for a long time. Roma and James from Six:Thirty approached me about Unread Messages in November, and I was immediately interested in the subject and approach. The influence of mobile devices and the internet has spread far faster and wider than anything design has done in the same time frame. This exhibition puts designers back in the picture, asking them to solve a problem using the technological language but a human approach. The designer is increasingly being called on to mediate the rich, information-filled world of technology and harness it in a useful, healthy way. Here’s Roma and James on their show.

“We’ve been always fascinated by how technology affects everyday behaviours and rituals. Our relationship with technology has been a recurring theme here at Six:Thirty. With Unread Messages we continue to explore this theme, this time looking into the social and ethical implications of current and future communication technologies. As our relationship with technology becomes ever more significant, it’s important to broaden the discussion about where we’re heading. What version of the future do we want and what do we need? These are really key questions for designers and the public in general.

“Before embarking on the project we wanted to make sure that the basis of our hypothesis was well investigated and as objective as possible. That was the reason to approach Northstar, one of the leading research agencies in the UK. With their help, we discovered that the subject indeed strikes a chord with research participants and uncovered thrilling insights into people’s relationship with technology. The resulting pieces and prototypes are intended to raise awareness and start debate around our relationship with technology, so an exhibition is a good place to open that discussion to a wider audience.

“During the selection process, we aimed to maintain the balance between functional products and more speculative design work. To achieve this we approached a broad range of designers. On one end of the spectrum, we have Dean Brown and Zanellato / Bortotto, that come from a more ‘traditional’ product design world and on the other end we have Matteo Loglio, a creative technologist, and Takram – “norm violating, reality bending” speculative designers. The results are an eclectic mix of digital products, IoT prototypes and conceptual household objects. One of the things that instigated the project for me (Roma), was my wife banning phones in bed… that made me think how technology permeates and sometimes disrupts our daily habits and patterns.”

Unread Messages runs from 11 March – 9 April 2016 at The Aram Gallery, London

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Dean Brown: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Dean Brown: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Dean Brown: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Dean Brown: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Matan Stauber: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Matteo Loglio: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Paul Macgregor: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery

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Paul Macgregor: Six Thirty, for Unread Messages, Aram Gallery