"We seek inspiration where
others are afraid to look.
We like solutions,
but we love problems.
We don’t just reach for the stars,
we create them and
Hold on for dear life.
We fight gravity."
Earlier this year, Astro founder Brett Lovelady sat down with AW360 to talk all things design - specifically how it influences technology, how we are moving into the 5th dimension of design and why ASTRO continues to keep the human experience front and center. Check out the highlights:
Q: You’ve said that design must fuel emerging tech—Why is that the case, and more broadly, what does that entail?
Emerging technologies are driven by solving a problem, as opposed to exploring and pursuing applications. Design will often take a technology slated for one problem and apply it to a myriad of possible applications, often by placing the technology within a desirable human context. For example, a smart bracelet that can sense your activity by combining a series of emerging technologies, such as wireless, flex circuits, and accelerometers, is functionally powerful, but if it doesn’t pass the fashion test, it may fail to reach a broad enough audience to become a viable business. So, it all boils down to design, as the fuel for commercializing emerging tech, especially in consumer markets.
Q: What does “Design in the Fifth Dimension” mean, and what should marketers and agencies know about it?
Put simply, Design in the Fifth Dimension means accounting for a more soulful, transcendent relationship with the products we create. Put even more simply, 5D Design is Soulful Design.
We live most of our time in a 3-Dimensional (3D) world, while often viewing information in a 2D-world. In modern product design, we often design for a 4D-world, considering how a product will perform over time and through space, affected by unseen forces like gravity, atmosphere, other people, wear and tear, etc. But now, with the advancements in technology, we need to think about the metaphysical and design in the fifth dimension for a 5D-world. As I see it, it’s designing in a space which accounts for prior dimensions while also adding in predictive technologies (AI, IOT, ML, etc.,), all with a view toward building human interactions and relationships and a simultaneous view toward history and future impact. This means creating soulful, culturally relevant, long term relationships with the things we create, including the future exposures, diverse environments and potential impact on the nature of humankind.
Q: Right now, you’d be hard-pressed to design new tech that doesn’t at least reference or take into account Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. How are you and the ASTRO team designing for these new realities?
In design consulting, we see a little of a lot and can often combine concepts to magnify the best solutions for the human condition.
First off, VR and AR are fundamentally different. VR takes you into a fully closed, alternative view, while AR overlays your reality with additional information or effects. ASTRO has been fortunate to be involved early-on in both of these arenas through its work with Samsung Gear, Google VR, Oculus, Mira and VIVE, and therefore continues to see overlap, convergence and separations as they occur, each more clearly developed as time goes on.
To design for these new realities, ASTRO’s design team continues to experiment and learn with each program, so that immersing ourselves by interacting and experimenting with the existing commercial products are a minimum. This combined with design tools of rapid physical and digital prototyping, animated storyboarding, video capture and good design process help us identity issues and opportunities for these new realities.
Q: How can combining industrial design, smart tech and a keen sense of aesthetics create a richer, more impactful human experience?
At ASTRO, we play the role of human advocate throughout the industrial design process, with an ultimate goal of improving the Human Experience. Products that are easier, more intuitive and delightful to use hold the hallmarks of good industrial design. Designing products that enhance your environments with superior/fashionable/appropriate materials and finishes enhance our homes, offices, retail and transportation interiors on many levels and keep us from the lowest, ultra-utilitarian of commodity experiences. Good industrial design provides its end consumers with a personal expression and identity beyond the functional purpose, hopefully creating both brand loyalty and good business.
For example, the new HP TANGO X printer we helped design is a vehicle for HP to showcase their smart printing features, including mobile print and scanning, voice activated printing, instant ink and free photo service, mobile progress alerts and home décor integration.
Thank you AW360!
The full interview can be read here: A Conversation With Product Design Guru Brett Lovelady