Kenichi Okada: Animal SuperpowersAt 6 o'clock this evening I dashed from the office up to Brighton station and hopped onto a train bound for London Bridge, to make it to This Happened. It was an absolutely enchanting evening of four talks, each running through the background to a product and its design process. It's late and I only have a few scrabbled notes, but I want to get them down whilst the memory is fresh:

  1. Jussi Angesleva on the nasty realities of creating digital wave-patterns which seamlessly(ish) transferred themselves into real water, for an installation in Japan. Interesting to hear about the horrors of doing work which integrates with a space without taking it over (or just sticking up a screen and projecting cute stuff onto it). Cue lots of stories on the pain of cross-continental collaboration or "getting your hands dirty at a distance": edit/compile/test in real life. Icky, and unnervingly familiar: the real world is messy, physical proximity and the ability to have conversations wins out over documentation and electronic tools. Hmm, where have I heard that before?

  2. Mr Schulze gave a slightly downbeat and self-effacing version of the Olinda story. It was refreshing to hear that even geniuses have problems balancing consultancy and their own product development, and a bit sad that the beeb can't produce the Olinda radios: I really hope that someone takes the open source designs and builds them (and that a suitable public back-end can be found for the social goodness which lurks backs them up). I wanted to know more about the modularity of the hardware too - Jack hinted at some smarts behind that side of things.

  3. Kenichi Okada showed off animal superpowers, my absolute favourite: toys to give children the perspective of animals (giraffe for adult-style height of vision, ant for microscopic sight through "feelers", and bird for a homing instinct). Beautiful looking toys, charmingly simple, wonderfully presented. Timely for me too: I've been thinking a lot about animals recently, and had a blog post on the topic which MarsEdit seemed to drop somewhere :(

  4. And finally, Hattie Coppard of Snug and Outdoor ran through their experimental playground kit: incredibly cute, kinda life-size lego. And her slide on narrative and play had my Loco-sensors tingling: arenas, pathways, obstacles, territories, thresholds, destinations and sanctuaries being the components of games. What a beautiful way to envisage outdoor play!

All great stuff, all thoroughly recommended. Please don't tell your friends, I think I only just scraped onto the entry list this time around and will be sad to miss the next one :)