Interviews with Jona Piehl and Tom Roope

The latest set in the series of interviews I did for COFA Online have now gone online.

Jona Piehl from Land Design Studio talks about the challenges and role of design for large exhibitions and the collaboration involved:

Tom Roope, one of the founders of The Rumpus Room, talks about the crossover of traditional media with interactive and social media forms:

Thanks once again to Rachel Meyrick (a.k.a. Rachel Lewis) for the camera and editing work.

Interviews with Nik Roope, Troika & Mark Hauenstein

Most of the interviews we shot for COFA Online have now gone online. A few others with Jona Piehl from Land Design Studio and Nik’s brother, Tom Roope from The Rumpus Room will be released next year and they all explore working in the grey area of merging and emerging disciplines.

Nik Roope gives some great insights into the thinking behind many of Poke’s successful projects:

Sebastien Noel and Eva Rucki from Troika on their cross-disciplinary projects:

Here, Mark Hauenstein talks about his journey from studying fine art to being head of Research and Development at AllofUs:

Thanks to Rachel for the great camera and editing work.

Interviews with Brendan Dawes and Simon Waterfall

A few months ago I trekked around London with my filmaker and editor friend Rachel to shoot a whole load of interviews with designers and artists for COFAOnline. I still teach online for the College of Fine Arts at UNSW in Australia and these interviews will form an independent site as an ongoing resource as well as teaching material for the Masters of Cross-Disciplinary Art & Design. They are also being put up on YouTube and here are the first ones with Brendan Dawes and Simon Waterfall:

Troika – Digital by Design & Interview

Troika_Digital By Design-Book_s.jpg

Troika have a new book out called Digital by Design: Crafting Technology for Products and Environments. It is a wide-ranging survey of works that use new and emerging digital technologies, often crossed with physical interactions and products that blur the boundaries between art and design. They have managed to collect together work from a fantastic range of contributors, including my mates over at Hulger.

I visited Troika a while back and interviewed for a Podcast on Core77 and really like their approach to what they do and they’re lovely people too.

I plan to review Digital by Design for the soon-to-be-launched Designers Review of Books, but in the meantime you can buy it from here (or here).

I also wrote a profile on them in my Foreign Policy column for Desktop. It seemed a fitting time for another “From the Archives” interview post. You can read the full Desktop article after the jump… Continue reading “Troika – Digital by Design & Interview”

Iron Man’s HUD and interaction design

The current issue of Desktop has a snippet from my interview with Dav Mrozek Rauch from The Orphanage talking about their work on the HUD for Iron Man. If you click on video and then “Run Before You Can Walk” in the widget above, you’ll get a reasonable taster of it.

One of my favourite parts of chatting to him was hearing about the interaction design issues that came up in terms of the relationship between the suit known as Jarvis – the computer that Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Stark, interacts with – and Stark. For example, what should come first when his eyes look in a particular direction? Is he looking at something and then the HUD responds, or does the HUD show him something and he looks at it?

“We would just get these plates of him in front of a green screen and say, ‘Okay, now he’s looking to the left, what should he be looking at on the HUD? Put something cool in.’ But no matter how cool the thing you put in it’s not going to look right or seem real unless you know what story it should be telling.”

“I asked John Favreau and he said, ‘He’s having a conversation with Jarvis, it depends on who’s asking the question’,” says Rauch.

“If Tony asks a question then Jarvis responds, if Tony is flying and he’s hit then Jarvis throws up some information and Tony looks at it. Once I started looking at the shots like that it became so obvious. What was really interesting for myself and the team is that we weren’t just making visual effects, we weren’t just doing design, we were filmmaking and we were making stories and doing it in a very collaborative way.”

It’s an interesting set of interaction issues to deal with and they’re only a tiny bit in the future. We’ve all seen disastrous versions of this with Microsoft’s Clippy, after all.

I also found the discussions they had about interface colours and design approaches insightful:

“Amber is kind of the 80s and cyan is the 90s, what’s the colour of the future going to look like? What’s the next iPhone or Motorola going to look like? We really had to pull out all the stops for the Mark II and then think about how to make things more simple for the Mark III, because that’s how design usually works. It’s starts out complex and then gets more simplified.”

In midst of the searching for the perfect user-experience I think we forget how influenced we are by fashions and also how fashions and Hollywood movies affect audiences’ and users’ mental schemas of interfaces – think Minority Report and multi-touch, for example.

In a few months I’ll be able to post the whole interview here – Dav also chatted about some of The Orphanage’s commercial animation work and their experiments with a kind of 2D/3D hybrid.

But for the moment go and buy a copy of Desktop!

From the Archives: Interview with Daniel Brown

Daniel Brown – Flower Power

(In an earlier unpublished draft of this I so wanted to title it “Dan Brown – The Da Vinci Coder”, but good taste prevailed. Now I get the chance to share the awful pun with the world. I still prefer it to ‘Flower Power’ though. – AP)


Some of the most successful people seem to thrive between the cracks of definition. The lack of a clear pigeonhole allows for interesting combinations of skills that pique the interest of those in overlapping disciplines. Daniel Brown, winner of the London Design Museum’s coveted Designer of the Year Award in 2004 is one such chameleon. He won the award for his web design when, by his own admission, he’s not really a web designer and would be considered more of an artist by many.

There is a mix of genetics and good fortune at play in Brown’s past. His father, Paul Brown, produced Europe’s first piece of computer animation for television way back in 1981. Like many of us that have ended up experimenting with interactive media, he had a home computer (a Commodore Vic 20 with 3k of memory) when he was very young. Early Hypermedia pioneer and family friend, Roy Stringer, invited Brown to experiment on his office’s Apple Macintosh in 1991 (it was worth $10,000 back then).

Continue reading “From the Archives: Interview with Daniel Brown”