It had been a while since I had done my last little Quick & Dirty exercise and the Housing Designathon could not have come at a better time.
24 hours, 8 teams, 1 floor. And what came out was sheer brilliance! The 24 hours of BOLT, as it was called, felt nothing less than a reality TV script customised for design consumption.Taking away from the shroud of serious nerdiness were surprise twists and turns every hour and a game of rock-paper-scissors thrown in for extra effect. But yes, the scoring was rather strict which made us designers scramble across the floor every time the Boss, Suvonil pealed the bells.
The brief – a digital product at the end of 24 hours that could challenge or upstage any available product at present. What worked best was the open ended brief that restricted the imagination to no bounds. Products ranging from fantasy real estate forums, future home automation to local empowerment found its way into the Housing design studio.

The result: An extremely fun design-marathon that not only tested our stamina (surviving on coffee is no mean feat!) but also tricked our brains into thinking intemperance is but a placebo. Surprised by our own inherent skills of natural selection, some of us jumped head first into the world of prototyping. Whatever inhibitions one might have had before, about coding or coffeescript had to be squashed with immediate effect. It was time to act! In a designathon like this, what matters the most is perhaps the planning. It all comes down to hard working vs. smart working.

I was lucky to be a part of an eclectic bunch of travel enthusiasts who at every thought of having a few hours to spare, plot and plan their next trip. Stemming from this love of travelling, of exploring the unknown, rose COMPASS. A unique experience seeking application that not only connects you to the local cultural activities but also lets you live like one. A perfect antidote to cultural dilution. COMPASS is for a group of people and individuals, who see themselves as a collective or a community, who share and work to preserve experiences, customs and traits unique to the site. Not for the feeble hearted (with their set plans and ‘glamping’ gear), the idea of Compass thrives on enabling the provincial community with opportunities that best benefit them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could experience a place just as the locals do? Eat their food, live like them perhaps? Compass celebrates the idea of discovery. Of the joys of coming across something previously unseen, of finding that new spot that you want to tell your friends about, share with your peers. Of interacting with the local community. It thrives to empower the travelling community to be more participatory in shaping their journeys than placing trust on middlemen with business goals. The question it poses, what can we do for the locals?

Many a travel apps have made their way into the market since Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor. The competition is steep and the users spoilt for choices. But how many of us want the same itinerary as the rest of the world? The fun of going off-road and uncovering something new has a greater pull. But then again there are two kinds of travelers. Ones who travel to check things off their list and the ones who travel to add to life experiences. The destination holds little importance to them. What the destination offers has more value. Compass provides a unique platform to explore a certain location via either discovery or experience. Targeted mainly at weekend travellers, it enlists destinations within the range of 500kms from the chosen city. Once the point of interest has been established it details out the geography and cultural interests of the place. You could browse through a directory of local hosts and guides, home-stays and unique culinary experiences. Details of which could be either uploaded by the parties hosting or by the travelers themselves.


As fun as it was working on this, we are working towards making this a reality soon. Watch this space for more …



Having been off the grid, shifting countries, I’ve finally found the time for some much needed inspiration. I still vividly remember my introduction to projection mapping and thanks to last year’s Resonate experience, I’ve since been a fan of Kimchi and Chips and their exquisite projection mapping exercises. That is until I stumbled upon this! Andrien Mondot’s Hakanai – a take on everything which denotes ephemeral, transitory and fragile. The choreographed performance installation combines video projection mapping, CGI, and sensors to dynamically respond to the movements and proximity of its performer.

Adrien has also developed eMotion, a tool for creating interactive motions of objects for live visual performances. Interestingly, the creation of motion in the program is laid on a physical model/ physical forces when applied to objects.

Projection mapping

Excuse me while I play the program. x

Addicted Products

Relational design practice touted as the third phase in modern design history, is contextual and conditional design. Relational design deals with design’s effects, extending beyond the form of the design object to its meanings and cultural symbolism. It seeks systematic methodologies, as a way of countering the excessive subjectivity of most design decision-making. Relational design values experiential and participatory nature of design and often blurs the distinctions between production and consumption.
In Andrew Blauvelt’s words
“We might chart the movement of these three phases of design, in linguistic terms, as moving from syntax to semantics to pragmatics. This outward expansion of ideas moves (…) from the formal logic of the designed object, to the symbolic or cultural logic of the meanings such forms evoke, and finally to the programmatic logic of both design’s production and the sites of its consumption — the messy reality of its ultimate context.”

‘Addicted Products’, a project by Simone Rebaudengo, TU Delft / Haque Design Research raises questions about what our relationships might look like with products of tomorrow. The winning entry, Best in Category – Engaging and Best in Show at Interaction Awards 2014 stemmed from the question what if the smart household objects of the future aren’t just smart, but also potentially emotional? What if, connected to and benchmarked against their peers, their relationships with each other start to inform their relationships with us?
Brad (the toaster), the central character to the narrative is concerned with performance or use and not in some natural intended functionality. If he’s not being used as much as his ‘friends’, Brad gets upset. He seeks your attention, begging you to make some toast or at least to give him a reassuring pat. Ignoring him for long could result in him packing up in search for potential owners and find a new home. Brad has no single owner and is governed by social sharing and network culture. Addicted Products is thus a great critique on how immediate human desires and algorithmic efficiency could shape better design experiences. While the internet of things advocates effortless efficiency, devices misunderstanding each other or intervening into our wasteful or harmful habits creates a new narrative.


Putting on a show

It’s been a while since I last hosted an exhibition of my work. The last one being when I was still in my graduate school (7 years ago). The thrill of exhibiting, the anticipation of how it’s going to be received and the last stretch when everything that could ever go wrong WILL go wrong. But I am happy to report, this Work in Progress Show was quite the runaway hit! Ups to everyone who came 😀


Love. xx

Notes from Resonate 2014

Though initially I frowned upon the bizarre location, Belgrade – Serbia for the conference, it turned out a pretty neat city. I knew of no Serbian interaction designer. Neither did I know anyone of Serbian origin. The only Serbian I knew till then was Nikola Tesla, that too by virtue of internet. I had assumed he was American.

resonate 2014

resonate belgradeAfter much running around and spending a night at the Vienna Airport (which calls for a completely different post altogether), we found ourselves in pretty ex-Russian theaters and Fresco Galleries attending what was, one of the most glamorous geek-events I’ve attended. I say geek not in the negative sense of the word but the amount of sheer brilliance packed in those three days could not be works of measly mortals (like moi).
Much of the first day went in trying to get into one of the many workshops. Given our last minute travel emergencies, we could not register for any of them. The Ototo workshop was one that I was really hoping to attend. 😦 Alas! I had to make do with a small chat and some post workshop try-outs. Dizzying as it were the Ocular Rift was quite the gadget to try out!
Some of my favorite speakers there included Jussi Angesleva, Pablo Garcia, Yuri Suzuki and Kimchi & Chips. Having seen Yuri Suzuki’s work earlier and being familiar with his innate interest in music put perspective to some of his earlier projects. What blew me away was this music video choreographed entirely with robots. Absolute brilliance!

Pablo Garcia showcased a really interesting low-tech way of drawing/sketching. Based on the principles of camera Lucida, titled NeoLucida it sort of aims at redefining ‘realism’. I love how hands on the technology is. It reduces the friction between the act and the user and makes the interaction seem seamless. Another project that I really loved was the Body Scanner by Jussi Angesleva. I realized, I really love projects that hide technology. And as a result what comes out is pure interaction.

Now, all work and no play makes Sayanee a dull girl.
Leaving with postcards from Belgrade. A war torn city, beautiful in parts.

Must try the ‘rakia’ but beware it’s not for the faint hearted. Walk into a ‘Baklava’ store and you’ll come out with diabetes. Vegetarian? You’ll probably have to live on thin air and water. Nothing, mark my words, NOTHING comes without meat. I’d be damned to find yoghurt sans bacon topping! BLASPHEMY!!
Disclaimer: The Museum of Contemporary Art on the banks of river Sava has been shut for the last 8 years. It’s best to avoid considering it’s not been keeping up with the times 😉 The Kalemagden is pretty cool. It has an underground walk-in dungeon and throngs of canons thrown around the campus (for the historically inclined). Though what will catch your eye is not the beauty of the place but the many young couples resting under the trees. Well, resting would have been fine but ‘mating’ was more common. I love the city’s idea of privacy! Don’t ask why the buildings look dirty, they were bombed 15 years ago. Also LOOK LEFT while crossing the road. Don’t make insurance pay for it.

ps. The people at Hedonist Hostel are angels.Thank you so much for the hospitality (and the croissants) 🙂


Excerpts from the Alpha-Ville Experience

Aptly titled, Alpha Ville Exchange was an interesting platform to experience how different designers tackle the idea of interaction. Of using technology without letting it overwhelm you.
Being a newbie in the interaction design sphere, this was quite an eye opening series of talks about the scope of sphere rather than its boundaries. Many a thoughts passed through my brain but here are a few quotes and projects that I fancied.

Alpha ville exchange

At the very beginning, Eno Henze spoke about how not to let technology dictate your design but use it as a tool of expression. I loved his idea of producing generative artwork in a physical form,
re-incorporate it in the realm of human reality. It exists not only in the computer as a file but as something you own.
“You possess the art again.”

Genius! I think every one looks for a bit of themselves in the projects that they take on.

Sougwen Chung’s

<me> ? </me>

“My drawings are like a map. A map of who I am … where I am going.” ~ Shantell Martin.
“Everything is a mistake. So learn to enjoy them.” As much as I loved her work for the organic quality of it, the lack of interactivity makes it more a piece of art, of self expression than design. The problem with self expression is that it is biased and subjective and when exposed for public viewing, more often than not, it is not collectively agreed upon. But I guess she stands correct on ” … you cannot make everyone happy!”

The real highlight of the evening were the numerous data visualization projects. Data visualization is essentially simplifying data generated by humans, compiled by technology. Some of the simplifications are a result of complex mathematical algorithms. I find this blurred line between simplicity and complexity very interesting. Data Visualization vs. Data Illustration. Another major question that came up was the honesty in data representation when aesthetics is the prime focus. How much of the final product is true to the initial quantum provided?

My favorite piece of text from the whole day came from the comic relief act, Helicar + Lewis. The showcase of their playful interactions. Users as participants of a piece.

“The real world is a killer app.
That’s where we like to do our interactions.”

This was also my first time in East London so goes without saying that I was rather taken by the street art and graffiti of the space. 

#Win Day!


What is Interaction Design?

It’s been a week of reading about Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby! I have to say they have left me
more confused than convinced at the end of it all. In an attempt to understand their design
principle I answered a few questions (for myself).

What is Critical Design? How does it affect Interactions?

– Design that does more than just solve a problem or make the world a better place
– Design based on critical content
– Critical Design is NOT art
– Critical Design is a tool to engage one in a conversation
– Design which makes the invisible visible
– Critical design is about mixing criticism with optimism
A world of industrially manufactured objects dictate what it means to be human in our consumer society. Would a change in the society bring about a change in our behavior? If so, then it most definitely will have an effect on our interactions with the objects.

What is Design Fiction? What has it got to do with Interaction Design?

Design fiction is essentially a term  to analyze the emerging parallels of present and future to test new ideas in design. It is design to inspire. The preface to a chapter yet unwritten. It’s design’s way of asking ‘What will you prize most in the future?’ Design Fiction is as dependent on interaction design as is the latter, on it. Fiction as a result of speculative design has a direct effect on how things will be perceived. Perception and communication are key to interaction.

So then, what is Interaction Design?

Interaction Design to me is a point where object behavior meets human behavior. A point where they stop to exist as individuals and become simultaneous, almost symbiotic. It is no more what technology can do for design but what design can do for technology. Interaction Design today is about making technology more meaningful and relevant to our lives. Products have taken a backseat. It’s about behavioral studies. Design can bridge the gap between consumer satisfaction and be a mirror to user needs. Interaction Design today is about humanizing objects.

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