A Way to Futurity, Carl De Smet

A Way to Futurity. New Sensorial Spectra for Mass-Production

  • Project Leader: Carl De Smet (KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture)
  • Team: Jan Ivens (Lessius Hogeschool,  Departement Industrial Sciences, campus De Nayer)

The technology to purvey artifacts with a growing and layered functionality has increased radically in recent years. Design is moving away from its historical focus on individual, functionally static objects to concentrate on a fuller comprehension of dynamic systems. Smart materials can now be embedded into these systems allowing access to new domains of multifunctionality, both promising and still poorly understood. Even the concept of function is now on unsteady footing and strongly shifting. The promise of these domains lies not only in the functional benefits that might be extracted. What is crucial are the completely new ways of relating to objects and their functionality that may emerge for users: a new spectrum of sensuous experiences that could head into a direct confrontation with mass-production's current consumerist hypernormative sensorial paradigm.

"A Way to Futurity" researches technological pathways for materials that exhibit performative behaviour, specifically Shape Memory Plastics (SMPs). SMPs are both sensors and reactors, both muscle and nerve: a mechanism and a structure at once. The constraints and possibilities of performative objects at this stage can only be explored by simultaneously carrying on design research and engineering at once. In addition to the prototypes and design strategies, the project will also generate "design fiction": designs as yet not executable but cautiously based on the functioning results.

  • Duration: 2009-


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