Besides the internationally renowned Sónar Advanced Music Festival, simultaneously this week Barcelona celebrates Sónar +D, a Creativity & Technology event, where some of the most cutting-edge artists and researchers get together in a wondrous kaleidoscope of highly talented people. Eager to know new stunning proposals, we were there from its Day One.
Our first discovering was the successful Belfast-born project Patchblocks , programmable mini-synth modules that caused a backing storm at Kickstarter. It has everything to delight inquiring musical minds: it is modular, it is funny and it is open. These modular synth units can be joined as puzzle pieces, and even they can be plugged to other musical instruments and gadgets, creating a wide range of sounds. Just “playing” with them, you realize the incredible variety of possibilities that these low-fi artifacts provide you, in a nearly-infinite constellation of combinations. There is a strong emphasis on the community side of the project, to share experiences and sounds. The perfect instrument to turn a musician into a maker!
After this, Andy Goodman and John Alexiou discussed about new trends on wearable devices, with witty statements like “In wearables importance is not on the device, but on the experience”. Andy Goodman, from the design agency Fjord, placed wearables on their very initial stage, remarking the issues their development still implies: recharge difficulties, tricky use of too small screens, and ugly appearance. He pointed out the great importance of the evolution of materials as the real way to improve actual wearables: to insert an electronic artifact on a textile piece, he said, doesn’t seem to him as interesting as making the materials of the textile piece fulfill a given function. “There’s no a killer app in wearables yet”, he stated. Would it ever appear?
The impressive curriculum of Oscar Tomico makes clear that he has exceeded by far the “young promise” state. Developing several simultaneous projects as researcher and professor from Eindhoven to Tsukuba and many other renowned universities, this Barcelona- born Designer has transformed interaction design from a weird way of imagining things to a reality surrounding us in our daily live in the more natural manner. Focusing now on Smart Textiles, he gave an enthralling talk at Replic_age 2014 Madrid about how our clothes will change and improve our lives in years to come.
Replic_age Day 2 was arriving to its end, and everyone was taking their place in front of a supersized screen where they will broadcast the Champions League final match between two historical rivals: Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid. While people took their beers and get ready for an intense soccer time, I asked Oscar Tomico if he would be so kind to grant me some minutes for an interview. And despite all the excitement, noise and loud laughter around us, he strung together a long thread of really deep-minded thoughts about Smart Textiles, Wearables and the future of fashion industry.
P.N. Which lines are you mainly developing by now?
O.T. Nowadays I’m focusing mainly in two lines: by one hand, designing services based on Smart Textiles; by the other, taking Wearables to fashion. On the first line we are trying to help textile industries to change with the help of creative industries, revolving the basis of their business thinking. For instance, transforming the vertical production structure to a flatter, collaborative structure. We help them to go from a very general idea about the future to specific projects to be carried out locally with available infrastructures.
P.N. There is a growing interest by locally made products. Do you think this is a real way to revert globalization?
O.T. Actually, I think that the idea of creating something separated from one’s own context and history is a dead idea. Now people is realizing that if everybody makes furniture as Ikea, Ikea will make it cheaper… so it won’t be a really good idea. Everybody making Scandinavian design, it has not sense at all. Hence people is realizing that the only way of distinguishing your product is that it reveals the place where it came, the materials and culture that come from the place of one’s own. We shall design locally for a global market.
At OFFF Barcelona 2014, we also found some interesting stuff beyond the stages, take for instance The Folio Club, the Barcelona-based platform aimed at promoting and producing independent editorial projects. They also provide offset-digital printing services. We talked with Ana about the print-related projects they promote, she also told us that The Folio Club helped to produce The Poool, the delightful OFFF printed magazine.
At “El Mercadillo”, a place full of exhibition stands with interesting products and services, we talked with Eddie from Camaloon, they make custom stickers and pin badges for personal or promotional use. They featured the Camaloon Be Noticed Corner where attendants to the Festival could draw and write anything they wanted.
Kate Moross is a young Londoner designer and illustrator. She’s also head of Studio Moross. With an encouraging DYI attitude and focusing on the business side of her work, she told us her story. From her first clients achieved shamelessly promoting herself on the early social network MySpace, to her current works for the likes of Adidas or Vogue. In the process, she has not lost any of her freshness, independency and visual impact. Moross has also been behind some of the most important artwork in British music in recent years. For instance, the ones for the British singer Jessie Ware.
After Kate Moross, the lunch break came. People started to look tired after several nights of “juerga” and little sleep. But enjoying of the sun warmth and the beautiful views was revitalizing enough.
Noted german type designer Erik Spiekermann made one of the most memorable speeches of the Festival, full of caustic and clever remarks about Design, Typography and other related stuff. He has designed many typefaces of extended use and been part of the team that made the Helvetica Neue typeface. Spiekermann also appeared on documentary Helvetica.
Through the years, he got involved on Web Design. Talking about the never-ending task of making websites, one of his more retweeted phrases last Saturday was “Websites are always in Beta”. After a long and successful trajectory and near to retirement, he has started a new project, the gallery and letterpress workshop P98A , mixing tools and techniques from wood types to laser cut plates. Having spent a good amount of his career in front of screens, this is his way of going from bits to atoms.
An hyper crowded Open Room Stage opened with the finish creative agency Kokoro & Moi. They showed us their imaginative approach to give their clients ad-hoc design solutions, regardless of being digital or print. They also proposed some challenging equations like “Openness + Randomness =3” or “People + People =3”, meaning the importance of working collaboratively and with no preconceptions.
The Bangkok-based designer and illustrator Pomme Chan presented her work, inspired by everyday life and obsessed with details. A good sample of that are her hand lettering illustrations made light for the Absolut Artelier.
After that, it was time for a break, while eating our “bocata” under the sun, the relaxed surroundings of Disseny Hub looked like this …
OFFF Festival 2014 started with all the features one may expect from a Barcelona’s Festival: relax, sun and creativity. The hippest design fest in the city begun with high expectations not only about their speakers, all of them internationally renowned professionals, but also about the cool audience and the fun that everyone expected to have.
The first achieved mark was The Poool magazine, a beautiful present we received before the doors opened. It was as good as anticipated. Risky and delicate, no ads inside, it is a delightful visual experience. During the fair we talked with The Folio Club, the company in charge of this work, and they were very proud about it: we’ll talk about that in a separate post.
Loren Ipsum, the latest generation of Atelier, is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Barcelona. They are a numerous young multinational team of designers. On stage, they shared their fun of working together, surprising us with freshness, vibrant energy, and bold proposals.