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REVIEW: Bits ‘n Pieces | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

REVIEW: Bits ‘n Pieces

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Last week I received a tour from Alissia Melka-Teichroew whom is a friend and one the curators of Bits ‘n Pieces which was on display at Material ConneXion. At first glance it was pretty easy getting sucked in with all the cool looking things. But stepping back for a moment helped me understand the concept of the exhibition which was looking at how technology both digital and analog are intermixing. There’s a bold statement suggesting that the digital revolution is behind us, and “whether an object is digital or analog is no longer of importance, since digital technologies are now embedded in the way we think, work and play”. I’m not entirely sure that’s the case just yet—this confused NYT review seemed to have missed the point. For the time being I still think if a designer can merge both digital and analog technologies seamlessly it should be studied because it’s not as common as we might think. So in that respect this exhibition is quite fascinating to examine.

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At this point in time I think we take the visualization on screen for granted. It doesn’t have as much emotional impact as it once did. There’s a million ways to show information and very few that can make an impact. Contrast the screen to what Mellitus by Doug Bucci does is fascinating. He has taken the data from a Continous Glucose Monitoring system that was monitoring his red blood cells while having Type 1 diabetes. Over time the first rings show from a stressful event, the second is a normal state while the third full ring is while on holiday. Being able to see that rendered in real life brings the internal into something very actionable. While everyone can’t be on permanent holiday, understanding what stressful situations are doing to people internally helps. Maybe we all should chill a bit more.

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Most exhibitions have some sort of display explaining what the piece are about. However it’s a missed opportunity to open more information to viewer if they’re interested. For this show they realized that by using QR code to the info that it opened up the use of their website. When I scanned the info of the code from my iPhone it gave me a direct url to the actual product in the exhibition web site. Super simple but extremely helpful. This type of info display should be the norm. The catch is that few people still have a QR reader on their mobile device, yet I hope that could change due to helpful cases like this.

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Two multiple pieces that showed the morphing and evolution of chairs was interesting. Jan Habraken & Willem Derks explored what a common chair cross–bred with a more well known design. They call it Chairgenics. In a different process Joris Laarman displayed the results of to strip the chair to essential pieces. These type of models help display what only a handful of years ago would be difficult due to cost and speed.

This exhibition is on view from November 4th to December 4th, 2009 though I’ve heard rumours that it might be extended. Until I can confirm that it’s best to visit before than. It’s being housed at Material ConneXion 60 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor in NYC during normal weekday business hours.

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