Week 73: New work, New city
3 Jul, 2022
It’s been 62 weeks since I last posted - sorry! I want to start posting side projects again soon, but this week I will focus on why I’ve been absent.
62 weeks ago I was interviewing for a position that I ended up accepted. Since October 2021 I have been working in the design team at Bang & Olufsen, and have moved to Copenhagen where our design studio is. I lead a small but expanding team of designers, modelled after my dreams, called Tools & Interactions.
Tools is the aspiration to build products that feel like tools, and build tools that augment a designers ability to think and make.
There’s an old saying that “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Or put differently, our work is a result of the tools we use for it.
Interaction design for products that have physical and digital components are notoriously difficult to “sketch” with. Compare it to classic industrial design, where you can sketch simply using pen and paper. My team and I develop tools that allow us to sketch with technology effortlessly at high-fidelity. This enables us to iterate much faster and refine our interfaces.
I’m curious how different “intelligences” can interact in my work. These thoughts are still emerging, but I’m thinking about human, parametric and machine intelligences as tools.
Let’s say human intelligence is my ability to think about the concept of a house, and sketch ideas based on my intuition and experience. Parametric intelligence is my ability to instruct a computer on what a house is, and generate houses based on that model of a house. Machine intelligence is using new and emerging AI systems to expand the concept of what a house is or could be. My point isn’t that one kind of intelligence is superior compared to the other, but rather that they interact with and augment each other.
I’m hiring people who can use parametric and machine learning systems to develop these kind of tools in a way that can inspire our work within industrial design, interaction design and sound design.
Interactions is the aspiration to create beautiful relationships between humans and objects, and between objects in a system. At Bang & Olufsen, we have a discipline called CMF - Color, Material, and Finish. That is a testament to how obsessed the company is with how the product looks and feels as a physical object. I like to talk about my team as the “Digital CMF” team. We think about technologies as materials - they have material qualities and affordances.
We work with technology through sketching and making across bits and atoms (which often requires making new tools). To do this, we have built a rapid prototyping workshop with 3D printing, lasercutting, and electronics engineering capabilities.
Did I mention we are hiring? kean [at] bang-olufsen [dot] dk or dm me at @knandersen