Interactive Glass Piano

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London based designer Simona Ciocoiu has been exercising her creative might. Originally studying and working in graphic design for the likes of The Times, Simona set herself a new challenge and embarked on an MA in Interactive Design at University of the Arts.

One of Simona’s recent MA creations is the Glass Piano. The instrument is a reinterpretation of the glass harp; creating haunting sounds through the sense of touch via a geometric wooden design.

We caught up with Simona to find out more about the Glass Piano and her take on the future of interactive design.

Q) What triggered the concept behind the Glass Piano?
The Glass Piano is a response to a physical computing brief exploring our sensory understanding of the world. In this context, I wanted to evoke the haptic feeling of lightly rubbing your finger around the rim of a glass filled with water and provoking that particular glass-sound. My version also set out to open the possibility of playing a glass piano to the unpractised user as well as making it a sociable experience by allowing several people to play it at the same time.

Q) You have mixed natural materials and technology to great effect, why did you choose to use wood specifically?

An object made of wood should instinctively convey an open invitation to touch in the mind of the viewer, because of its warm and natural quality. Roland Barthes describes it beautifully as a “familiar and poetic substance” that makes “essential objects, objects for all time” and brings us closer to the tree (Barthes, Mythologies, 1957, p.53).

Q) There is a futuristic element to the Glass Piano that gives us a glimpse into the interactivity of natural materials and objects. What do you think the future holds for interactive / product design – particularly everyday use objects?
There are many forces at play in shaping our future, technological advancement at lightning speed has left us wide-eyed in the face of any new piece of gadgetry, while the next century promises to be that of biotechnological boom. Sustainability and ecological concerns loom nearer as discoveries continue to push our understanding of the planet further. And the list of factors continues.

In terms of the objects that surround us, I would like to believe that the future is not a proliferation of smart screens that follow you around, a continuous dissemination of disparate information that leads to a feeling of overload (a minority-report type of scenario). The view of the future I ascribe to aligns with Kenya Hara’s thoughts on how technology will be incorporated in daily life: as a thoughtful redesign of the objects around us that reinvents their functions to reflect the beliefs (concerns and interests) of a post-consumerist age, incorporating sophisticated technology that becomes invisible in the process.

Q) What’s next?
I think physical computing objects can be a means to enhancing and actually humanizing the abstract and disparate digital content. I would like to continue doing interactive design that involves more of the human senses. I am also interested in narratives and ways of using interactive media to bring them to life.

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