Order & Chaos.

Design from a technological taboo.

A recent trend in interface has been usability. It meant depriving the products from layers of interaction and introduced readability in everyday use. This has been the major trend in interface design for high-tech products.

There are two main directions in which this trend evolved. Designs either became bare, “simplified”, or went towards an all-on-the-screen interface. Less buttons meant easier use. The idea was to simplify hi-tech products.

But this in turn meant that the more advanced the technology became, the more intangible the interfaces were. The dissociation between the understanding of the technology and the process shifted the attention away from the use of the product.

Tangible interfaces rely on a certain ritual. This is how the user engages with the product. The rituals were in understanding the process and using it. This understanding would come through long use. Simplifying the interface reduces the motivation to the long-term understanding of the interface.

It was the “how’s” and “why’s” of the first use or sight that used to direct the amazement of user. It seems that we are entering an era where the dreams of the performance are more important than the actual use of the product.

The choices made pre-buying are based on technical specifications, not on how to use the product. Technological advances, even at an abstract level, are what we are looking for when making our choices.

The amazement is now contained in the dreams of the performance rather than in its use. Technical specifications have won our souls. The dreams of performance induced from the abstract specs pages have placed technology in the designer bags of the throw away culture.

This project is using water and electricity. Since electrical products have invaded the consumers’ sphere, they have always been kept away from water or humidity. Behaviours have as a result developed around this taboo, from avoiding putting glasses on top of the television to keeping all electronics away from the bathroom (as it is banned in the UK to have mains in the bathroom).

The project is putting two different elements into a new process. It tries to see whether a new attitude towards the technology we take for granted is possible. The narrative it is developing is the assumed dangerous mixing of water and electricity into a constructive process.

The Light Switch
The Remote Control