Each Spring I teach a class at the local university with another design colleague, Paul Rustand, called “Art 499: Professional Practices for Graphic Design”. Generally we try to bring the real world into the academic world and give the students a good dose of reality by creating complex projects and then connecting them to professional designers across the country for art direction and critique. For the final project of the Spring 2006 we collaborated with Joe Stitzlein, a Senior Design Director at Landor (Joe has since joined Nike). We decided to combine a few different projects from our various experiences into a fictional uberproject with the following Elevator Pitch:
A radical new technology platform from Herman Miller will allow their customers to create customizable flooring "experiences" through movable, technology enhanced floor textiles. This floor system can be customized in real time in the following ways: opacity, heat, illumination, "infused" audio and video, color, imagery and other experiential factors-many of which the engineers at HM haven't been fully determined.
Herman Miller wants you to create a story for potential investors that shows the probable cultural impact of such a product. This will be presented along with a financial model created by the HM executive team. You must figure out how to explain the occupational and social benefits of this new idea to a group of VCs that are not well versed in design history, the interiors industry, commercial carpet, interior designers or furniture manufacturing. Furthermore, the engineers at HM would like your expertise in creating emotional experiences (i.e. your expertise in being a creative designer) to help them expand the offerings and benefits of the Kinetic Floor System.
Well, it seemed pretty "sci-fi" at the time, until this article was brought to my attention last week. Dear Japanese Scientists, I know some kids that know what to do with this.