Inspired by the relationship between surfaces we encounter everyday and our sensory reaction to them, Korean designer Eun Hee Jo’s recent work explores how digital functionality can make for entirely new physical interfaces that we poke, prod, and touch with our hands.
Developed as part of the 2013 Designer in Residence program, Eun created concepts for a speaker and a lighting system, both designed from the ground up as “integrated physical and digital experiences.” The speaker, created with some help from engineer Seitaro Taniguchi, takes the form of two joined hemispheres. One of those blares the audio; the other is the interface. A solid ring around the outside lets you pick which aspect you want to control–track, volume and equalization, but actually changing the values involves swiping your fingers along a piece of fabric.
The second design, a concept for a new type of interior lighting solution, re-imagines ambient lighting as a wall-mounted decoration. Using Philips OLEDs and Kvadrat fabrics to create a grid of touch-sensitive circles all wrapped up in a single hanging textile. These, Eun says, “could be fabricated like wallpapers, in various shapes, sizes and forms.”
Swiping our way through the mini trampoline sized system might not sound like the most efficient way to explore a playlist. But as we put high-tech smarts in not just lights and speakers but in washing machines, microwaves, front doors, tables, and microwaves, it’s worth keeping in mind that those objects don’t necessarily have to look like the old versions.
Jo says, "My proposal was to re-define the role of the surface in future lifestyle, exploring how surfaces can be an integrated as part of a product or environment. As you control the functions, the left surface physically responds to the controls. Tactile surface also responds to the beat of the music."
Be sure to check out more of Eun’s impressive portfolio where she excels at adding subtle interactive touches to otherwise monolithic forms.