ÉCAL students anticipate the future of familiar objects for Milan exhibition
Milan 2016: interaction design students at Swiss university ÉCAL have used connected technologies and virtual reality to imagine possible future versions of everyday objects such as a toaster, a broom and a book (+ movie).
For the When Objects Dream exhibition, teachers at ÉCAL (École Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne) asked students to rethink the way we see the objects around us.
"At the fair here in Milan we speak a lot about furniture and objects in the general sense," ÉCAL director Alexis Georgacopoulos told Dezeen. "We felt it would be good, not just to speak about the object itself, but what surrounds that – be that physical or virtual."
The students responded by imagining a world where the objects have their own dreams and personalities.
Using virtual reality (VR) headsets, students ask visitors to literally look inside the objects. Others use activity sensors so the objects "make statements about their own existence" when visitors interact with them.
"In a playful manner, they lead us to rethink some of our distrust in the face of change and as regards, their future," said the students.
Each object is painted black with a coloured switch, handle or other part that indicates how the visitor should interact with it.
A coloured VR headset inserted into the end of a broom by Erika Marthins and Hélène Portier allows visitors to sweep away giant coloured blocks in a dark, virtual world.
Looking into another headset embedded in the pages of Pietro Alberti and Elise Migraine's Look Book immerses visitors in a world of floating text.
"The book is one of the most archetypal objects in the show and what you can achieve through it, is it puts you in another world, with texts and letters and words falling around you," said Georgacopoulos.
By holding the shade of Aloïs Geiser and Andrea Ramirez Aburto's lamp and rocking it side to side, visitors can roll a ball across a virtual floor.
Bottles by Charlotte Broccard and Stella Speziali reveal a fast-flowing digital liquid inside, while a teapot by Salomé Chatriot pours a "liquid sound" into visitors' ears.
Looking up through a headset in the bottom of an empty vase reveals a world of unknown vegetation in Mélanie Courtinat's Bloom, while when peering into Thomas Faucheux and Arthur Moscatelli's table, one perceives a sharp drop.
For all the other installations in the show, the object is connected to a screen nearby, which alters when visitors interact with the item.
André Andrade and Giulio Barresi's toaster becomes a launch pad for all kind of objects that jump out on the screen above.
"There are endless boundaries with the toaster, you could even have elephants jumping out of it," said Georgacopoulos.
A metronome controls the pace of a table-tennis match playing on the screen above in Luca Kasper and Callum Ross' installation, so visitors can turn the match from leisurely to nail-biting.
Attendees can also pop an on-screen balloon by using Pierre Allain-Longval and Mathilde Colson's bicycle pump, or melt objects by using Adrien Kaeser and Corentin Vignet's hairdryer.
Confident visitors can even step onto David Nguyen and Fabiola Soavelo's scale and watch their weight cause clothes to twist around a virtual rack.
Air from a fan turn the pages of a book as part of Pierry Jacquillard and Justine Rieder's installation, while pulling a tape-measure allows visitors to navigate through a space as part of Kelian Maissen, Mathieu Palauqui and Guillaume Simmen's installation.
The When Objects Dream exhibition is on show at Spazio Orso 16 until 17 April 2016 as part of Milan design week.
For last year's event, photography and product design students from ÉCAL created interactive objects and installations that investigated the selfie phenomenon.
Other installations on show in Milan this week include Atelier Biagetti's "futuristic paradise" for sexual rehabilitation and a "shifting forest of light" by Sou Fujimoto for COS.