MINDS on the future of responsive environments

BARCELONA – There have been three industrial revolutions, says Alfred Batet, digital business developer at Simon. Today, we are in the midst of the fourth.

Batet was one of the three speakers at MINDS: Framing the Future during Barcelona Design Week. In collaboration with Simon, the event on 14 June had top creatives and industry leaders sharing their views on how responsive environments can redefine our wellbeing.

Moderated by Robert Thiemann, Frame’s founder and director, the event was opened and closed by Salvi Plaja, Simon’s design director. The three speakers were Batet, the founder of Studio Gronda Diego Gronda, and the filmmaker and animator Alice Dunseath.

From left to right: Robert Thiemann, Alice Dunseath, Alfred Batet, and Diego Gronda

The evening’s theme confronted the international design community with their social and civic responsibility, and their power to improve human environments and interactions.

If the first industrial revolution according to Batet brought us mechanical looms, today the revolution is the genesis of an increasingly interconnected world. From televisions to laundry machines and ovens, smart devices are becoming the norm in our homes, schools, workspaces, and on the road. These responsive objects are networked – augmenting and mediating the human experience via our social interactions and physical perceptions. And with enough responsive objects come responsive environments.

Batet and Thiemann share a playful moment on stage

From left to right: Dunseath, Batet, and Thiemann, with Maite Felices and Salvi Plaja

Responsive objects and environments are empowering designers to create more meaningful spaces and improve our lives. However, there is a growing concern that widespread data collection and monitoring via the Internet of Things will lead to violations of privacy, political control, and corporate manipulation.

The general consensus at MINDS was that companies and designers alike have to be careful with data and with the impact technology-driven environments can have on our wellbeing. At the very least, there must be a code holding manufacturers, designers, and their clients accountable to responsible use of data and technology, if not a set of laws or a regulatory body.

Suzanne Wales and Thiemann relax at the entrance to the event. In the background is the cover of Frame's 20th anniversary issue and an article on Simon's showroomwritten by WalesWales is a regular contributor to Frame magazine.

Alice Dunseath's immersive exhibition An Interpretation of Perception explores how visual stimuli can enhance our wellbeing

Furniture by Gandia Blasco

And of course, technology should be a tool in the creation of positive human experiences, not an end in itself. The record shows, Thiemann says, that everybody loathes high-tech environments with dizzying experiences that have no other meaning than to impress or 'be cool'. Users want great experiences, not gimmicky products.

Furniture by BD Barcelona

Find out more about Frame's events and intiatives here.

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