While the phenomenon of digital art fuelled by NFTs continues to rage, the realm of digital design, set apart by and proposing rather solid points of differentiation by virtue of the utility associated with product design in general, doesn’t seem to be far behind. As design festivals and weeks pick up all over the world, the avenues for the display of digital design and products grow manifold, providing a much needed impetus to the rather nascent discipline. There is a great degree of cross pollination between the two disciplines as well. The works of digital artist Andrés Reisinger, one among many, periodically challenge (and blur) these boundaries, often hopping into the real world too. The Hortensia chair, later manufactured by moooi is a fine example of this manifestation and cross pollination. However, as the design world continues to evolve to explore new ways of seeing, interacting with, and experiencing these objects of design, so does the need to experiment with new forms of media that lead to these displays materialising. The work of Milan-based digital design studio D.O.S, an acronym for Design Open Spaces but itinerantly picking up from its usual expansion, disk operating system, dwells on that paradigm, and proposes new ways of exhibiting design that attempts to overcome the boundaries of space and time, in line with Fuorisalone’s theme this year.
ID-exe, D.O.S' "phygital" display, will materialise this year at the Milan Design Week as a distinct design district in itself, with dozens of touchpoints spread across the city of Milan for people to engage with, juxtaposing digital design displays with real world settings. Working on the theme of "REdesigning the RElationship," ID-exe, with its tagline 'All the Design Identities', looks at reimagining the kind of relationship people have with their cities and urban edifices, proposing a literal new lens to peek into the city you would have known for years through technological intervention. "This means using technology to create new ways to design and use urban spaces, including the social dimension, without losing touch with reality," sums the Milanese design studio up in an official statement. What’s more is that digital content generated by engaging with ID-exe and using means devised by the D.O.S. team to experience Milan in its digital glory will be usable from anywhere and anytime, even after the end of Design Week, speaking to the longevity of the digital medium.
Returning for their third year at the MDW, under the patronage of the Lombardy region, ID-exe proposes two types of displays at the globally iconic design fair. Apart from, and at the same time in conjunction with spaces inside existing shops and galleries displaying interior products and art in their physical form, ID-exe's digital component would involve the use of augmented reality and Instagram filters with the use fo QR codes dubbed 'Pixels'. These pixels would seemingly act as activators of a 'pixel city', experienced by patrons through 39 curated, analogue points in the city, disseminated like invisible content for people to access. The QR codes or ‘Pixel Activators’ could be two dimensional - on surfaces, or three dimensional. While the first step to experiencing D.O.S’ intervention is accessing the codes through a personal device and saving it via social platforms including Facebook and Instagram, the second step (or mode as the team calls it) enables users to move these digital exhibits to create their own 'exhibit' of sorts. "We want to subvert the relationship between the public and the exhibition by using their smartphone or tablet," states the D.O.S. team on what they consider to be a completely one-sided relationship between the exhibit and the viewer.
Apart from augmenting existing displays in Milan, the expansive ID-exe program would also include Milan's first interactive piazza, 'built' in the Porta Genova square. Through D.O.S' interventional idea, the square will undergo an ethical 'hacking' using temporary furnishings that in turn may generate talking plants or benches with portals to unique digital avenues. This rather fun intervention at the hands of the visitors themselves could also mean virtually reimagining and activating abandoned urban pockets, creating a sense of association and ownership between public space and its users.
Alongside the piazza, an augmented reality contest on the transformation of home environments by Cosentino Group in its showroom in Piazza Fontana 6, LE3DERS by Valcucine - an exhibition featuring virtual models of the greenest buildings in Milan, the second edition of OCA - Open City Art, an open-air and free to use street art museum that will add 12 new artworks in addition to the eight from its first edition, and the Debass "materioteca" in Via Vigevano 43, which uses haptic technology to allow users to feel the surface and temperature of objects and materials that are not physically present there, round up the holistic phygital experience proposed by ID-exe.
Emilio Lonardo, co-founder of D.O.S and Isola Design District, along with Diego Longoni, co-founder of Zona Santambrogio and the other half of the D.O.S founder duo, state that ID-exe “assumes a central role thanks to the intertwining of the real and physical Milan and its digital twin. Through the creation and use of virtual content, the public can experience the physical city, especially its lesser-known places," on the juxtaposition that activates the city of Milan using this digital layer. In line with the overall sustainable outlook of Salone this year, they state, "The project also reduces consumption and waste: the decision to present design products in digital format is fundamental in reducing consumption, transport, and in general, the impact that the event has on the environment". Merging not just the physical and digital realms, the real and the virtual, ID-exe attempts to bridge tactile displays, gamification, interaction design, and urban pedagogy into one cogent yet transcendent experience.
STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts - 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini - with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile - Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.
What do you think?