What if your garment toiles, sculpture or furniture in-the-making could react to the humdrum of machines around you in the workplace? Would it possibly influence your process of creation, inspired by its active presence? Andrea de la Concha, a BA Graphic Design graduate from Central Saint Martins, playfully tapped into the idea of giving life to otherwise pretty static objects, changing their behaviour to bring a surprise element to the work. The outcome? Making people respond and experience objects in a way they have never seen before. We spoke with the designer about merging the digital with the analogue, and some of the best inventions of our time. 

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Inspiration comes from previous experiments which I document. Whenever a visual idea or material comes to my mind, I try to execute it and keep the idea for future reference. I also keep a daily blog which I call my ‘Happy Accidents’, these are interesting visuals which happen by accident in my working process. I save them as I use this library for reference when I am working with visual compositions and colour.

What medium do you prefer to work with?

What I most like is when I can merge analogue and digital mediums. Both formats have endless possibilities and the merge of them even more! I think analogue materials can make technology seem closer to us, and the technology can add the fiction, the surprise element to the analogue.

The project Active Objects seems to be a great example of this mix! Where did it all start?

Active Objects is a development of my previous project ChairAXJ01, an interactive chair which enables you to ‘print with your arse!’ I like making work out of everyday objects as I find that we all relate to them in a certain way, and changing their behaviour by making them responsive can make people speculate, have fun and think about technology in another way.  Active objects is an image-based project where users interact with a still photograph. Working together with Sabba Keynejard, we wanted to bring new stimulations to everyday objects and in a subtle way.

Which objects are you most attracted by?

Objects which have a mechanism built within them, that somehow brings them to life. I keep a little collection of these and they are mostly figurative. I really like dynamic things; for example one of my favourite objects is the typical wine opener that looks like the top body of a person, I love its movement!  Objects with movement come to life, it’s like a live animation. I have many solar powered objects in my collection.

Could you tell us more about your aesthetic preferences?

I have always expressed myself using a lot of colour. I think that color plays an important part in attracting people to the work. Using the right colors, you can communicate many things. Making things playful through color is something which I keep doing in my work.

Name the best invention in the world, and one you’d like to see.

Tricky question! There are many amazing inventions, the radio waves, the internet, the bulb, the bicycle, airplanes, these are all inventions we are used to now. I would like to show you two fairly recent inventions which really amused me;

Neil Harbisson’s antenna, which is a device implanted in his skull which translates colour into sound. He is said to be the world’s first cyborg! I love when I see such examples of technology, it’s somehow fiction in the real world! 

Little Printer: A web connected printer which brings you information from the web; news, pictures, tweets, calendars and notifications. This is a clear example of a product that brings together the digital and physical world with a bit of humour.

One invention I would have liked to see is called Audience by Random International. It’s an interactive installation where many synchronised mirrors follow you, and the person sees themselves reflected in the mirror. I find this project very witty and fun, using technology in a very simple and impacting way.

Who do you look up to, and for which reasons?

I like designers and artist which make you think and who bring some kind of humor to the work. I look up to people from many disciplines who somehow combine wit and joy in their work; Jean Jullien an illustrator, is one of them, with his illustrations he brings humor to what is happening today. Olafur Eliasson, artist; his work makes people question many possibilities, it plays with our perception and our senses. Christian Marclay, a visual artist and composer: author of ‘The Clock’ the 24h movie, I love how his work connects many things together, forming intriguing and engaging pieces of art.

Words by Grace Ahn

All visuals courtesy of Andrea de la Concha

Artwork in featured image by Titus Kaphar

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