I’ve been so busy, I’ve not yet had time to share any reflections on the 2015 SXSW Interactive sessions.
Among my favorites was Paolo Antonelli, curator of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Her keynote, entitled “Curious Bridges: How Designers Grow the Future” was, in my opinion, this year’s example of why I always plan to return to SXSW the next year.
If you wish, you can watch the entire, delightful and borderline provocative keynote, courtesy of the good people at Southby.
Much of her presentation revolved on the notion of “designing for the ‘in between’.” While I may be slightly off in my interpretation of her intent, this phrase seemed to be Paola’s way of referencing the essential role designers play connecting the imagined to the real.
Among the examples that she shared (and there were many) during her remarks, I was especially drawn to the ones that had bio- and nanotech references. This is largely due to one of the Powershift Group projects I’ve been supervising for the past six months, called Nano Global Corp.
Nano Global is focused on nanotechnology-based products into direct everyday consumer uses. These include skin protection, surface cleaning, safe food preparation, water and air purification, and many other practical applications.
Nanotech-based consumer products have the potential to improve the lives of tens of millions around the world. This is an especially urgent need, in the post-antibiotic age we’ve entered, where superbugs and fast-mutating germs are resistant to conventional treatments.
One was the pointy, polygon-shaped structure in the picture that almost looks like a building-sized virus itself.
But, far from being a virus, the structure is coated with nanoparticles that were meant to neutralize pollutants in the air.
In other words, it’s a giant air filter, sucking bad stuff out of the air.
Paola spent a significant portion of her time describing ways that science, design and architecture can work together. Artists want to share their art with the world; scientists want to make their science more useful.
Architecture provides a fascinating third way for these other two to come together in a way that is both pragmatic and beautiful.
This is a manga story about a boy who passionate about agriculture. In the story, the boy can see and talk to bacteria.
It’s a lovely way to represent what designers are actually thinking about, in terms of harnessing bacteria as worker bees that enable us to build a better future.
One example she showed was Autodesk’s design of its own virus, in-vitro.
Another example she showed was MoMA’s latest acquisitions from the Wyss Institute, called organs-on-chip.
The point of these designs is very real: it is to create new, validated means of speeding new pharmaceuticals through their trials, to get life-saving and other beneficial drugs to market rapidly.
All-in-all, I found it a riveting SXSW keynote that will have me thinking about the possibilities of design, at least until SXSW 2016!