About three weeks ago I have been, with a trip organised by university, at ThingsCon Conference in Berlin, the main conference on the Internet of Things in Europe. It was its second edition and many people said that it was much bigger compared to last year. Personally I found it of the right size, a good amount of people, but not too many to make the space crowded (a bit like Berlin in general, enough people everywhere, but not too many, after months in London this is something you really appreciate). The people I met and the ones I had chance to hear at talks and workshops, were all very interesting, probably it was the high price of the ticket which provided this sort of selection.


One of the most interesting thing for me was the workshop with Simone Rebaudengo, interaction designer whose projects and theory have been an inspiration also for my social object project. The workshop was named The House that knows too much. Already from the title it was clear how this was pertinent to my project: my Cheeky Objects is indeed a critic of smart houses whose level of intelligence might arrive to be annoying. I really enjoyed his presentation (which I reported below) and later the workshop itself where we were asked to think about an object in a household, to unpack it and trying to find out what the object knows about us.

The most enjoyable part of it was to listen to the discussions and reasoning of the other designers in the room. To hear their arguments, arriving to thousands of ideas in a bunch of minutes.


Finally, Simone asked us to speculate about probable goals and ideologies that the object might follow and to think about their effects on our lives. For this last part he explained briefly also the concept of Speculative Design which I obviously I knew quite well, but still I was glad to touch such topic: firstly because it’s what I have been studying in the last months and secondly because it was another matching point with my project were I critically tried to speculate on possible side effects of objects and the implication which will bring the adaptation of a smart house.

Smart house which has been amply described and promoted by Bruce Sterling, he was the closing keynote of the event. Although his speech was enjoyable for his tone and charismatic attitude it has been mostly a promotion of his new project Casa Jasmina, which I’m already aware of, having taken it as reference for my project. However, besides his talk I really enjoyed his interventions and questions during other talks, very smart and sharp questions always posed in a sort of ironical and funny way.

I also had a chance to meet the founder and CEO of THINGS, digital agency headquartered in Milan, operating also in London and Berlin. He was really interested to the social objects project in general and was quite enthusiastic after speaking with Nicolas about it, so that he proposed me to cooperate with his company after just a brief conversation.

For the rest I’ve listened to some more talks. It was nice to listen again to Claire Rowland and her outline on UX design principles for for IoT and it was really engaging the appeal of Tina Aspiala to think IoT hardwares with a design prospective in order to don’t create too many useless or too-quickly-obsolete objects, to avoid what she called landfill design.


We were given two tables to present our projects, so the space was limited, but we managed to use it well. My room scaled model was placed on a side of the table with a video in background which was explaining the concept, helping me simplifying the explanation for the public or completely supply it during the moments I was not presiding the project.


My project has been more successful than expected honestly. I was quite disappointed in the previous weeks since I actually wanted to realise something people could interact with and not just a description of my critical ideas, but as I explained in a previous post it was unrealisable for logistic reason. However, people seemed to like it, many asked me information about that and looked quite pleased by the simple technology, but the rather smart critical idea behind it. I was pleasingly surprised when many of them were laughing as I described the Stubborn Door which wasn’t even there!
Furthermore, with big surprise of me and all my course mates Nicolas during his talk showed my project as first of ours and probably was the one he spoke the longest about (or at least the one which stayed the longest on the screen, since with that background he was presenting the whole task).


*Immediately I sent a message to our course Facebook multi-chat 😛

Overall I it was really an inspiring experience, besides the main topic of IoT and its discussions around, on which I got a few new points of view, it was very interesting to be feel part of the design community, to speak with some many people which do your same job and have your same interests, to see their enthusiams and willingness. I guess that an experience like this should be done every now and then by everybody whatever profession they do, to keep them up to date in their field, to know what your pairs think, but most of all to get inspired doing your work.