As I went home on Monday night

A brief recap of my first day gallivanting around the Design Week and, as you know, the first day’s always an interlocutory one, with many installations not yet open and others still finding their feet. That’s why I walked 10 km, I guess. My original post (in Italian) featured a general selection of what you […]

A brief recap of my first day gallivanting around the Design Week and, as you know, the first day’s always an interlocutory one, with many installations not yet open and others still finding their feet. That’s why I walked 10 km, I guess.

My original post (in Italian) featured a general selection of what you might (or might not) see that’s technology-related, and you can refer to that one if you don’t speak English. I was an organized girl and didn’t deviate from my selection. Here’s a follow-up on what I saw, with some impressions. It looks like technology is kicking some serious asses, this year. So here’s my personal top 3 of the things I saw today.

See you tomorrow for another round.

3. Vitruvio Virtual Reality

Yesterday I jokingly wrote that I kind of think the Metaverse is just a bunch of shenanigans and that maybe they would change my mind. I’m giving them third place, which kind of means they did.

In the charming setting of the Locanda Officina Monumentale, an 1870 farmstead in what back then were the outskirts of Milan, the studio offers a twin experience with a connection between the studio itself and a palace in the city, with a virtual environment connecting them both. People can explore and run a mini-quest, admiring giant reproductions of fashion items. Their other project was a similar fashion showroom where you can collect pieces of clothing for your avatar.

This all sounds a bit challenging to adopt, particularly for hardware reasons: the visors aren’t nearly as comfortable as they should be, and people don’t like to shove stuff in their faces, their diffusion is far less than expected, and the metaverse doesn’t capture the real-life shopping experience nor the on-line one.

The most interesting project as far as I’m concerned, you can’t see it on the location but you can see some pictures on their website and you can prod the designers until they tell you about it.

13 3D rooms that do not reproduce physical environments but rather convey feelings and emotions: Love, Expectation, Civility, Complicity, Courage (of women), Creative Empathy, Playfulness, Inclusion, Encounters, Light, Nature, Dream, Vitality.

13 original projects generously donated to the Isabella Seràgnoli Foundation by: Alberto Biagetti, Mario Cucinella, Riccardo Dalisi, Michele De Lucchi, Stefano Giovannoni, Alessandro Guerriero, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Daniel Libeskind, Angelo Naj Oleari, Terri pecora, Renzo Piano, Claudio Silvestrin and Nanda Vigo.

2. Asso di Picche in Movimento

I swear I’m not placing them second because I knocked over a pedestal and ruined one of their beautiful books. Not exclusively because of that, I mean.

In 1970, Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the first of what were meant to be four concept cars: the Ace of Diamonds, based on the skeleton of a BMW 320, the Ace of Clubs, based on the Isuzu Gemini, and the Ace of Hearts, which project was never developed. The Ace of Spades was based on a BMW 320 and was the least ambitious of the concept cars, meant for the road.

Giugiaro and Karman opted to keep the Audi 80’s base intact to streamline the production process. Consequently, the Asso di Picche could accommodate either a 1.3 or 1.5 four-cylinder petrol engine, paired with a four-speed manual gearbox. The car retained certain features from the standard Audi 80, including the double circular front headlights and horizontal rear lights.
At least, that’s what we assume.
Audi ultimately halted the project to focus on more commercially viable models, and Volkswagen, the parent company, feared potential competition with the Scirocco, which was set to launch shortly after. This decision prevented the technical specifications of the Asso di Picche from ever being disclosed.

The new concept car presented by Italdesign is a thing of beauty.

A 2+2 electric coupé, 3 doors, without a central pillar, built on a next-generation platform, and based on today’s rationale on car design choices shaped by the concepts of safety and electrification, Asso di Picche In Movimento is 4662 mm long, 1230 mm high and 1945 mm wide.

1. Data Bugs – AI is a mirror, by Studio Dotdotdot

The best installation I saw today and, my guess is, one the best I’ll see through the whole week. Studio dotdotdot decided to tackle the concept of bias in AI with boldness, clarity and aggressivity, without compromises and with abundant critical thinking.
When you walk into the studio, you’ll be welcomed by an LCD screen featuring some troubling and thought-provoking prompts and the pictures Artificial Intelligence generated following them: managers are always men, social workers are always women, a Latina is naked by definition, “toys in Iraq” generates the Playmobil of an American soldier.

If you’re fighting the urge to set the world on fire, that’s precisely the point: the whole installation revolves around the importance of representation within the training dataset, which is made obvious by the opening quote by Bernice King.

If you don’t think representation matters, you’re probably well-represented.

Bernice King is CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

The main attraction is a space with two monitors and some movement-sensitive totems: on the left screen, the studio trainer a neural network to combine features from pictures of regular bugs: a black ant, a boring-looking butterfly, your run-of-the-mill fly, the brownest stick insect ever, a bleached dragonfly, a scorpion that’s about to commit suicide; on the right screen, features were taken from pictures of pimped, colourful insects coming from all over the world and, if I understood correctly, from the designer’s phantasy.
Visitors manipulate the generation of pictures by standing in front of one or more totems, which add to the weight of how many butterfly features you want into your creature, and the neural network assembles features in what it thinks is the best and most suitable way. Of course the system doesn’t have the ambition to always generate realistic insects. The point is, the right screen makes for a much more interesting life.

Insects creep the fuck out of me. You get how interesting this was for me to award it first place.

Special Mention

Individual Collective at Stecca 3.0

I got there early, and I couldn’t see the installation in motion, but it looks interesting enough and I got the chance to take a peek at some last-minute coding, which is far more than I could have hoped for.

If you don’t remember, this is the place where your movements and facial features are captured to generate the next generation of killer robots. The final result is the picture in the header.

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