DAMIAN O’ SULLIVAN (01/04/2009)
Text: Maurizio Montalti
Photo's: Nichon Glerum
Damian O’Sullivan is a dutch designer who also works covering the role of mentor in the bachelor course at the “Design Academy” in Eindhoven.
He has been one of the “lucky” selected designers who have been invited by Paola Antonelli, director of the MOMA in New York, to join with his work one of the most exciting and astonishing exhibitions ever presented in the design field: “Design and the Elastic Mind”.
That’s why on april 1st 2009 he has been coming on the 5th floor of “De Witte Dame”; to give us a lecture: a presentation and a general overview on some of the content of that great event he has been part of.
Over the past 25 years, under the influence of such milestones as the introduction of the personal computer, the Internet, and wireless technology, we have experienced dramatic changes in several mainstays of our existence, especially our rapport with time, space, the physical nature of objects, and our own essence as individuals.
“Design and the Elastic Mind” considered these changes in behaviour and need.
It has been highlighting current examples of successful design translations of disruptive scientific and technological innovations, and reflecting on how the figure of the designer is changing from form giver to foundamental interpreter of an extraordinary dynamic reality.
It’s an exploration in the explosively reciprocal relationship between science and design in the contemporary world.
His lecture started with a friendly critique adressed to the “Design Academy” in itself, a very good school specialized in conceptual design and craftmanship expressed through high aestethics, but still lacking that very important approach with a scientific oriented level, if confronted with other big institutions in the world, as the MIT or the RCA, dealing a lot more with future scenarios and technologies.
After explaining the way the exhibition was set up, through the seven main chapters, he gave us examples of some of the presented projects, one for every chapter.
Then he started showing some of the works made by the italian designer Elio Caccavale; a collection of toys (MyBio) exploring the emergence of biological hybrids in biotechnologies, as well as our moral, social, cultural and personal response to these “transhuman” creatures; each of the twelve dolls he made symbolize a possible biofuture and aim to introduce young children to emerging technologies, inviting them to think about the ways biotechnologies can affect their lives.
Another shown project was “Technological Dreams Series” by Dunne&Raby, objects meant to spark a discussion about how we’d like our robots to relate to us in a possible future. As technology advances and robotic experiments abound (ranging from the pragmatic to the exquisitely absurd) designers are taking a closer philosophical look at our future interaction with robots. Will they be subservient, intimate, dependent, equal? Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby look at robots as individuals with their own distinct personalities and quirks, thinking that devices of the future might not be designed for specific tasks but instead might be given jobs based on behaviours and qualities that emerge over time. New entities: technological cohabitants.
One more was the task devoloped by portoguese designer Susana Soares, titled “BEE’S, New Organs of Perception”; a project based on the evidence that bees have a phenomenal odor perception and can be trained within minutes using Pavlov’s reflex to target a specific odor. Their range of detection goes from pheromones and toxins to disease dignosis. That’s why she developed a range of alternative diagnosis tools that use trained bees to perform a health checkup, detect diseases, and monitor fertility cycles.
After passing through some other shown projects he finally came to present his own as the last one of the lecture: the “Solar Lampion”.
Unlike most solar lamps, which are left in a fixed position outdoors, Damian O’Sullivan’s “Solar Lampion” has been concieved so that at night users can take the light with them into their homes. The designer came in contact with solar technology at a very young age, as his father was responsible for the energy supply for the satellites launched by the european space agency.
The geometric spiraling of the “Solar Lampion” recalls both natural structures, such as pinecones, and the shape of traditional chinese paper lanterns. The lamp is composed of layers of concentric rings, each one holding six solar cells inclined thirty degrees to better catch the sun’s rays .Each solar cell is connected to an LED fed by a rechargeable battery. The solar cells store the sun's energy during the day and release it at nightfall wherever you need it."
Unfortunately he did not give us all these informations and i personally think he could have give us a better insight into the different projects; the overall lecture was sounding a lot like a very general presentation of the amazing MOMA’s exhibition, probably still astonishing for somebody that was completely unexperienced about it, but surely not for all the others.