Information overload: the ‘scape coat solution

Sometimes it feels good just to get away from it all. With a constant information flow – whether it be advertising, social media, traffic noise – sometimes we just want to switch off. But in most urban environments that’s not very easy.

That’s the problem I came to address in last Saturday’s speculative biology workshop at Art Laboratory Berlin, using speculative design to address biologically oriented problems. Run by artist Pinar Yoldas, the workshop aimed at finding innovative ways to address problems that run deep within our world. I teamed up with Claudia Manningel, Oliver Connew and Dustin Carlson for a crack at a design solution.

Our design grew out of two ideas. The first was choreographer Ollie’s penchant for public toilet cubicals, which he liked because he could have his own personal space away from the pressure of public interaction, but he was still in the midst of things. The second was artist Dustin’s response to overburdened senses, the idea of android-esque volume buttons on the ears and nose to dampen the amount of stimulus to which one is subject.

We morphed through many iterations until we came to the idea of a hood that cut out unwanted noise, and communicated how you were feeling through the use of non-verbal messages – namely light. But a hood can have negative connotations, despite efforts against maligning them, so instead we decided to go for its inverse – the collar.

The result? The ‘Scape Coat. It’s a large collar, that uses noise cancelling tech and directional microphones to control your auditory environment, and uses coloured lights to convey your mood. Image

The collar, as you can see from our cardboard mock-up, also acts a little as an enclosure, and it does make you feel safer, but also quite cut off. I have to say that I rather wanted to have one on over the last few days, so I think it’s a winner.

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