Talk to Me

form follows mood / 2013

Two-week project at the Köln International School of Design, Cologne.




Köln International School of Design, Cologne  


Everyday objects which are traditionally based on analog principles are now complemented with digital functionality. Function and use is therefore not only defined by the visible form itself, but also characterized by the invisible digital processes which take place within. The interaction with these autonomous objects has its roots in our use with calculating machines, today known as computers. We must ask whether these forms of communication are still applicable today, especially since we must now coexist with these interactive objects in everyday life.


In this project simple prototypes based on the open-source Arduino and Processing platforms were designed and built by students in order to experience possible forms of communication between objects and ourselves. The students were asked to use motion and deformation as the primarily tool to communicate to the user.


If we see interaction as a form of dialogue, empathy helps to have a „good“ conversation with our counterpart. Inner states of a digital system are intangible and invisible at a first glance, decoding and materialization is therefore needed in order to provide the user with relative feedback. We already see this happening in the form of symbols on small and large screens alike. If we examine nature, movement, gestures and expressions have always been an important indicator of the state of mind of our communication partner. We immediately understand the arching of a cat’s back as a sign of defense, yet when we design artificial systems we search for intelligent transformations of basic principles rather than simply imitating nature.