The first frame of my thesis

June 15th, 2010 by ishback

Some time ago I made my first stop motion movie:

I found one piece of play-dough and I started modelling it randomly, taking a picture for every frame. During the process (it took around 2 hours) I didn’t know what the result would be, how long the video would last, if it would be too jumpy between frames, etc.

Afterwards I put the frames together with Flash, I pressed play, and… magic! I really liked the combination of a patient process pursuing an uncertain result, and the surprise of seeing the small thing coming alive.

At that moment I thought that could be really interesting to transport this feeling to the kids, help them going through the process and see their reaction when they could see the result of their work and patience. I imagined a product that allows children to create their stories in a really simple way, and then a community to exchange these movies, and be inspired by others’ animations.

I take this as the first frame for my thesis. It will be a short and intense movie, hopefully with a happy end!

Perceptions & Assumptions

June 14th, 2010 by ishback

We know how to use almost all the objects that surround us. Our ability to learn and retain memories from past experiences, together with our perception of reality, build a set of assumptions over the objects, shaping our behavior while using them. As David Rockeby wrote in his interesting article The Construction of Experience, “the interface itself, by defining how we perceive and navigate content, shapes our experience of that content”. We experience the reality through our sensory system. From Rockeby’s article, “there is the reality out there – raw sensuality. The base of human-reality interface is raw and uncoded. We decode with perceptual filters”.

A repeated experience with an object tends to build a standard in our mind. We (designers) use these standards as metaphors to facilitate the comprehension and use of a complex or new concept.

And there is intuition, that is also constructed and being modified based on our experience and sensory perception.

But what happen when we don’t know anything about an object?

I’m interested on how an unknown object can challenge us, how is the process of discovering its functionality, its features, how to operate it. And the feelings that can arise on the user: frustration, disappointment, curiosity, surprise, addiction, etc.

Is it possible to have a new, pure relationship with an object with no assumptions? How many levels of content can we access though our senses? How many other levels are we missing if we only rely in our senses?

Is the intuition a result of our sensory perception and assumptions from our past experiences? Or is an independent dimension?

I started exploring some of these questions with a small experiment as part of an open exploration with the aim to have a better understanding of the essence of the interaction between humans and objects.

The experiment consisted of giving a wood cube to different people and let them interact with it, with no instructions. The cube has a labyrinth inside, with a ball in it. It has also a hole.


The purpose of the experiment is to generate an instant assumption that drives the interaction with the object. However, during the experiment, the object seems to challenge the assumption, generating doubt about the real goal, addiction or frustration. Here a video of the experiment.

Without any instructions, only by seeing the hole and hearing a ball trapped inside, the goal seems clear. It’s interesting to see the reactions and the evolution of the exploration of the object by different people.

Jacek spent twenty minutes. He found the hole was a problem, as it was setting up a challenge an offering a goal without assuring it – “this hole makes everything complicated”. The curiosity to know what was inside make him thing about other ways to open the box, even break it – which could actually have been the goal, why not?

In other cases there were ups & downs on the motivation to pursue a goal that wasn’t clear. For example during the experiment with Shruti, there is two moments where she seems to give up, but continues for some more minutes. Is the assumption that makes her continue exploring? Maybe the possibility to find another goal? When is it “enough”?

It seemed to be a cycle in all the experiments: exploration, (assumption of the goal), motivation, try understand the inside, query the goal, frustration, (something that made continue exploring or giving up), motivation, and so on.

A bit more analytical, Mayo made some questions to narrow down the possibilities of the purpose of the object, and the experiment. As he explained me later, he spent a some time trying to mentally draw the labyrinth to get the ball out. “It seems that is why it was build for. Or for making music”.

At some point the ball gets stuck on the labyrinth, and needs to be shaken to be released. That added some confusion.

Some other people tried to put stuff inside through the hole to see if it could come out later on.

Laura proposed me to put different materials on the labyrinth’s walls in order to facilitate to find the way out for the ball. She’s always constructive, even building over the assumption that the goal was getting the ball out :).

Actually there was no way out for the ball. The labyrinth was build to keep the ball inside. Some people considered this option but they continued trying, probably because a) there is no way to prove that you cannot take the ball out. b) it’s hard to look down on the obvious goal (a reasoned assumption) and spend time on finding a new uncertain goal.

That experiment has to be considered within a frame of an experiment, since the participants knew that there was a hidden purpose, not just playing. Although they were free to play as much time as they wanted, I’d like to repeat the experiment without asking to participate – leaving the cube on the street maybe. Also I’d like to test it with children, and see in which age they don’t build assumptions with a labyrinth, a ball and a hole.

Here some pictures of the inside:




More pictures here.

Thanks to Jacek, Jennifer, Dean, Elena, Shruti, Laura and Mayo.

MosaikoLab and its new tangible logo

June 1st, 2010 by ishback

MosaikoLab is a project that still doesn’t have a specific purpose. Maybe it will never have one. But in the meanwhile, it has changed its face twice already.



Now it becomes more Lab than ever – I used the logo to experiment with some materials and the lasercut.



I really like the combination of cardboard and masking tape, it gives a feeling of provisory, or patch. Some months ago, making the biz cards, I accidentally cut a piece of tape with the lasercut that was meant to hold the card sheet, and it looked amazing. It creates a nice effect just leaving the fill of the typeface with tape.


This is synthetic felt, which smells really bad when burned but looks great both cut or rastered (crispy lowered surface):




The finish with lycra is sharp, with slightly burned edges that prevent fraying:


And I’m in love with corrugated cardboard. It’s really cheap (or free!), with imperfections and with multiple possibilities of changing the aspect. By rastering corrugated cardboard with the appropriate power is possible to remove only the top layer, creating visual effects with the cavities. Also it creates nice a shadow effect with oblique light.




Of course I used acrylic also! :)



And thin plywood. The dark letters are rastered,with burnt wood smell included :)


And acetate usually used as light filters:


MosaikoLab takes shape!


More pictures here.

Small interactions

May 23rd, 2010 by ishback

Lately I’ve been questioning all the small interactions that we deal with everyday, these that are so deeply-rooted in our daily routine that we don’t question whether it’s a good design or not. Sometimes we have the perception that if it’s been there for a long time, it should be good. We have created standards that help us not to think about the interaction itself, but focus on what we want, and the result. However, as we deal with these interactions many times each day, their design has a big impact in our lives. It’s part of the designers’ role to analise how appropriate are these interactions in our days.

I wanted to dedicate a short video to these small interactions.

The same thinking could be applied to everyday objects.


A knife today has exactly the same shape (and sometimes same materials) than thousands of years ago. It’s a standard – we know how to use it, we know what is it for. But it was conceived in another context: different lifestyle, design and manufacture processes, needs, etc. When it’s time to redesign these objects? Is it too late because they are already standards? How much have they already shaped our behavior and lifestyle?

Designing today, tomorrow

May 23rd, 2010 by ishback

A month ago we made a small documentary around the role of the designer today, and tomorrow. We interviewed Simona Maschi (head of the Interaction Design Programme and co-founder of CIID), Vinay Venkatraman (co-founder of CIID), Peder Burgaard (Business Development Manager at TDC) and Iago Noguer Storgaard (Senior Consultant at ReD Associates) – four visions on the present and future of the design.

The documentary is being exhibited at Danish Design Center within the exhibition 10+ Design Forecast.

Designers have an enormous responsibility to shoulder and this goes way beyond the use of materials and aesthetic pleasure. Stepping back from the final ‘product’, we also need to think about the big picture.

The growing desire for individuals to customise and democratise products, systems and services plays a part in how the role of the designer slots in to a larger ecosystem.

Designers have the power to change the way people live their everyday lives. Business strategy, technology, communication and societal demands are just some of the aspects today’s designers need to take in to consideration.

The designer of today is the designer of tomorrow.


May 12th, 2010 by ishback


The first week of May I attended LIFT10, this year with “Connected People” as a main topic. I was invited to exhibit Linyl (a project developed together with Benoit Espinola, Shruti Ramiah and Natalia Echevarría at CIID) in Démo:Mode, an exhibition organised by HEAD Genève within Lift Experience. It was interesting to see the different approaches, design methods and finishings of the pieces depending on the origin (mainly RCA and Head Genève).



Linyl arrived Wednesday morning, coinciding with the inauguration of the event. It had been stucked on the customs for 4 days. Finally, despite the difficulty of calibrate the color sensor because the light conditions, the piece was settled up and demonstrated to Lift attendants as they came into the exhibition.

I got really good feedback from people. Some people wanted the piece for their home, some other commented the obvious relation with the VJ world, and a woman told me that she’d try to do something similar for her restaurant. “ingenieux“, “simple” or “beautiful” were common adjectives that people use to describe the piece.

Although I couldn’t attend all the talks I wanted to attend, the experience of these three days in LIFT10 was highly interesting. I’d highlight Russell DaviesNeil Rimer or Aubrey de Grey.




When I learn a lot of things in a short period of time I feel a strange sensation (which I love), like shivering – I felt it several times during some talks or the workshop Hacking Venture CapitalFred Destin from Atlas Venture. The VC world is quite new for me, but I’ve been interested lately. I’m far from understand it properly, but this workshop was the best starting point I could have.

The workshop was divided in two parts: “Pitching and getting through the deal selection process” and “Negotiating the venture investment”. It was a hands-on workshop, with good discussions around the pitches and negotiations that groups of attendants were asked to do. People were quite into the topic, so I was mostly listening to them. In my group of 4 for example, they were 3 VC and me. I really liked the way they were dealing, sharp, to the point.

Some of the quotes I captured from the workshop:

“You need a pitch for your business – it’s not only for a VC but for selling or recruiting as well”

“The pitch should be able to be summarized in the back of a business card”

“The “price per share” is what matters, not the value or the % you sell”

“Don’t rely on anyone, is your job to know the rules of the game”

“Don’t over pitch, let the VJ feel curious about your story”

“The price of the company is a discovery process, don’t say a percentage or how much the company worth at the beginning”

“Nobody reads a business plan. Nobody reads the executive summary. Nobody signs an NDA. Don’t lose your time on them.”

“Repeat your high concept pitch (3 words) a lot, VC will remember you for this and your first impression”

“It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s how you say it. Practise!”

“Tell a story, talk about why you needed it, what people say about it.”

“Sell yourself and your team more than your company”


LIFT10 is a good place to extend a network both in business and design fields. People is open to meet each other, discuss and keep in touch. The program also enables and fosters this communication between the attendants, with numerous coffee breaks, cocktails, a fondue night and a proper closure. See you in LIFT11!




More pictures about the Lift Conference here.

CIID’s admissions process for next year

April 22nd, 2010 by ishback


If you’re interested in an Interaction Design course, I’d definitely recommend to apply for Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design 2010-2011 programme. So far, it has been the most amazing creative and academic experience, with students from all over the world, with the best lecturers in the field. And for the next year, even a better course is being cooked. The deadline is May 3rd. Here the open letter from Alie Rose, head of communication.

Dear All –

In parallel with the launch of our new website, we are very pleased to announce the opening of the application process for our next generation of students.

As an education concerned with the broad potential of design and technology, the CIID Interaction Design Programme is looking for a wide diversity of students. We plan to have a class of 25 people and welcome applicants from all over the world with educational backgrounds in varying disciplines. You should be curious and creative, enthusiastic about design and have the desire to study in a cross-disciplinary environment. Whether you’re currently studying or working, you should be interested in the connections between education and interaction design practice.

To find out more about the application process and requirements please refer to the website: – there is a list of FAQs but if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

The curriculum teaches students to apply technology to everyday life through the design of software, products and services. We believe in a hands-on and user-centered approach to interaction design. Students learn the programming and electronics skills needed to work with technology as a design medium. They conduct user-research and experience prototyping to provide real-world grounding to their concepts. Frequent work in multi-disciplinary teams encourages peer-to-peer learning and a diverse selection of visiting faculty exposes students to a range of expertise.

You can view documentation of the course and student projects here:

Please feel free to distribute and post this information widely.

Kind regards,

±Pole refinement (and unexpected beauty)

April 21st, 2010 by ishback

The project ±Pole will be exhibited in ThoughMade in Mälmo (Sweden) on May 14th.


±Pole was developed during the Computational Design course at CIID in one week and it had some rough finishes I wanted to improve for that exhibition. For example, the sandblasted glass was placed over a black fabric resulting an heterogeneous grey. In order to increase the contrast between the area where the tokens are active and non-active, I painted in black the frame of the glass. Also I found the logo (lasercut paper behind the glass) a bit distracting, so I sandblasted it on the glass to make it more subtle.



The pressure of the sand pulled up part of the masking vinyl, sandblasting an area next to the “p” foot that wasn’t supposed to be sandblasted. Quite difficult to fix… but as I commented in an old post (in catalan), I like errors.


Painting the backside:


And the result:



The result is quite impressive, sandblasted and painted glass looks great from the other side.

And a nice surprise: the mask used for painting (masking tape) got an amazing gradient, resulting in a beautiful texturized piece – an involuntary and unexpected piece of art, by Randomness.