cocktail mobies

mobile cocktail tables. 3 sensors to detect engagement and respond when they are "bored"
topaz : audio
cajun shrimp : proximity
pursuit of happiness : light
*the actual names of the colors, I could not resist

they acted a bit like pets... not quite how I predicted but were cute enough to work.
If anyone is interested, this is a great article my teacher Tim Maly recommended. Be as smart as a puppy. 
As well as this one from another teacher Tom Weis. When Objects talk back. 

would you adopt a table? what would you name it? where should it live? ... the feedback below is worth a glance. 

the feedback ->

the aesthetics of closeness

Over the summer I found this beautiful voronoi diagram and was waiting for an opportunity to use this method in my work. Based on the midpoint series of connecting lines, you get a beautiful diagram from the data. Fred Scharmen's drawing below is based of the flecks from a pepper grinder. 

Voronoi Diagram by Fred Scharmen (MICA Arch Faculty). 

The Voronoi Diagram was codified by the Ukrainian/Russian Mathematician Georgy Voronoi in the early 20th century. It is a method of dividing space based on a set of input points.

Which brings me to my last experiment...
My friend and I hosted a dinner on Halloween. I conducted a little bit of research by hacking some plastic coupes. The glasses slowly leaked our wine cocktails, leaving behind a trace from the user. What resulted was a huge mess. My friend's table was spared, we covered it with butcher paper which absorbed most of the staining. I took the evidence back to studio to interpret the results. 

halloween table-paper

halloween table-paper


illustrator pen drawing

Each voronoi cell represents a region based on the 'closeness' of points. The sites, in my case the centerpoint of each wine stain, have this specific shared space linked by the midway point of each line. If this is confusing the directions for doing this is here.  It took some time, even for this little one but I liked the abstract way the voronoi computes shared space. I'd like to digitally output some more of these and eventually have a big spread of them. Perhaps it will be an interactive tablecloth or better termed: a mealspace, that undulates with your body's movements beneath the surface.
I wonder how that would affect the eating experience. Would it create a dilemma of how to eat on the somewhat rocky landscape, a landscape the diner was creating with their own body? I like this idea very much!

The user becomes a protagonist and the designer becomes a co-author of the experience, the product creates dilemmas rather than resolving them.... objects generate a conceptual space where interactivity can challenge and enlarge the scheme through which we interpret our experiences of using everyday objects and the social experiences they mediate.
— Design Noir (Dunne & Raby)

Interview with "future-self"

Mingle Tables

cocktail table. there may be some arduino and pressure sensors and gearmotors going on underneath

production line 

production line 


Why mobile tables (tobiles)?

I’m playing with the notion that tables have to be static, especially in the casual environment of a cocktail party, business gathering, soirée, bar. Places where people (students, professionals, citizens of the urban environment) get together to connect. Could the tables in these face-to-face interactions move along with the feeling of the room, the feeling of the person using it? I imagine a flow, like water that carries about a social space. There are areas where that water gets stagnant and warm. What would be a way to bring fresh water about a social space? A constant circulation, a current that is charged by the feedback of the people in it, based on their feelings, on their emotions, on their body language. There are areas in a stream where pebbles gather, they naturally cling to a nook in the stream and accumulate. As they build so does moss, algae and eventually bacteria. You can see the change in the surface of the water as time goes on and this place in the river never gets fresh water. It gets oily, murky, signs of decay appear. I see this social metaphor, this happening in settings where people are meant to flow about a room: mingle and mix. But people can't always do this. They like to aggregate, fall into customary patterns, usually safe and sound with familiar spaces and familiar people. I ask, what is the purpose of social function? what does social mean? I answer: to meet other people and make contact with other people. My definition of Other means someone different than yourself and your group. The purpose of meeting with people in these scenarios is to extend your group, in essence extend yourself. So if people stagnate in comfortable nooks, with the comforts of the same social acquaintances, The space around gets murky and the opportunity is missed. The whole reason for being at the gathering is negated and all that's left is slimey pebbles. 

The toblies, or mobile tables, pick up on moments of stagnation and revive the situation. It will be novel, people will delight or get frustrated by the very newness and unexpected quality of an un-static table. Let's look at the word TABLE... It’s very close to the word STABLE. The purpose of the table is to suggest a solution to a very relevant “problem.” A problem of lack of engagement or interest or motivation in social settings. The tobile’s role is make the “problem” noticeable, not blatant but perceivable. They will tip-toe away when the people around are not engaged. Maybe the person's drink will move away from them, maybe the person won’t notice, at least at first. It will be a topic of conversation because it is new. And then people might follow the table. It’s a prop. In situations like these props include: cocktails, purses, hands, pockets, tables. My guess is that if the prob moves, maybe the people will too. 

What was your vision for the tobiles, what environment do they function in?

Tobiles make appearances in places where people need coaxing to circulate. The tobiles might give them the reason for moving, for accessing the subconscious that is reading a situation that might be “boring.” If the table moves then they might feel more apt to follow or at least be more aware.  

What feedback did you get from the event?

Questions I asked:
Did the tables make you aware of awkward, boring, stagnant moments? Did you feel you could act on those feelings more easily? How many people did you meet tonight? How many people did you talk to? Would you call, email, twitter, facebook, meet up again? How would you reconnect? thru social media or thru food or drink? Topics of conversation? Things you connected by? Topics that came up more than once? Was food a topic of conversation? What was talked about? 

How are you recording the feedback, how will you measure the success of the project?

Video, audio, photos. Written observations. I'm trying to discover patterns in social behavior/interactions.  So I recorded ways in which I thought feeback would be discernable... how many people they connected with. How many drinks they drank. How much food was eaten. How much the person traveled about the room. How many bottles were consumed. Topics of conversation. 

How do you move on to the next project in relation to your topic? (what is relevant, insightful?)

Well... my topic is trying to discover how one would engage better with themselves or others while eating. From this event I would find links/portals to engagement/connection. What did I miss? What are ways that I can record interaction... Why is my thinking creative/different? 

Just food, no forks

Can you eat with your hands in front of others? I wanted to find out how people would eat if I could erase as much expectations as I could from conventional dining. And to record this behavior, I made the tabletop of clay so that I could get the diner's physical impressions across the length of the meal. I set it up for 12 people and co-created the 4 course menu with Chef Pierre St. Germaine at Rhode Island School of Design. It is part one: The Analog Dinner, in a series of meals I'm throwing for my thesis. Why not?  

Carla Noguera helped capture the event. We set up a go-pro to get a wide angle of the room, and time lapsed a photo every 5 seconds. She also took some long-exposures so I could track the movements of the diner's hands (I asked them to wear light rings). 

When I looked up the definition of analog - (adjective) a continuous signal, such as a physical recording, I came across analogue - (noun) food products used as alternatives, culinary replacements. That fed the concept for the menu: food parodies, imitations of the usual dishes.

1st course: Carpaccio of watermelon radish and imitation crab.
2nd course: Caprese salad of tomato chips, mozzarella balls, and basil crisps.
Main course: Cauliflower steaks, meat gravy and arancini.
Dessert: Pudding of green chia on meringue cakes. 
Beverage: Iced tea lemon squares. (think jello)

300 lbs clay

CLick to slide through the photos

dinner in 30 seconds

believe it or not

yes folks, critter bitters are real and they are scheduled to be released this summer, 2014. 

see critter bitters here. 

This harkens me back to my own adventures with bugs. Last semester I was asked to challenge a segment of industry with a design proposal... chose Industrial food and suggested a new fast food protein. I served butterfly nuggets at my final critique, made from silkworms. They tasted earthy. Previous to the butterfly nuggets was a cricket cookie project to test my classmates and a few faculties food boundaries. Most were willing to try the cookies (made from roasted cricket flour) because the bugs were disguised and combined with sugar and butter - they tasted delicious. Some neighboring Brown students had a similar idea with EXO, protein bars made from cricket flour. I have the carrot cake flavored bar on my dining table. I'm saving it for, I don't know... a special occasion. Documentation of the cricket cookie project below.

The guys at Nordic food lab are also on the bug train. Here's a video from MAD, a food symposium in held in Copenhagen: featuring Lars Williams and Mark Emil (super long last name). They served goodies: bee larvae and ants with flavor pheromones tasting like lemongrass. Pretty wild to be seasoning food with ants. If you visit their blog, you will find roasted locusts and moth mousse... I love this!

made from silkworms. served at RISD 2013.

made from silkworms. served at RISD 2013.

a note from Sara Hendren

end of year 1... our professor Sara Hendren is moving on from RISD, she will be sadly missed. I want to remember her parting words, so here they are:

a graphic by David Gray

a graphic by David Gray

hopping on the bitters band wagon

In efforts to craft the cocktail disposition kit, I've started some botanical tinctures to lead into a bottle of bitters, or two. To start, it's very simple: soak dried herbs in 100 proof vodka. It's been fun showing up at the liquor store right when they open and asking for their strongest spirits. A few wide eyes and smiles from the store clerks. Second to finding the booze, and more importantly, I needed herbs, spices and the like to begin the extraction process. There's a great source in Providence, Farmacy Herbs, they cater to medicinal needs but carry a few culinary herbs, as well as teas, balms, etc. Thanks to their friendly staff and past Edible Vermont,  I discovered Urban Moonshine: bitters made to stoke your digestive system. I had never given bitters a second thought - I knew them as a cure for a sour stomach, usually a hangover offering at the bar, or more classically; an ingredient used in cocktails. 

In fact, any drink that was made with bitters was cocktail... up until the late 1950's (says the founder of Urban Moonshine, Jovial King). Their claim is that the average American's digestive system is lacking challenge, making it sluggish and weak. It's no new news that good digestion relates to good health and Urban Moonshine is advocating for a more challenging diet... a more bitter diet. This means foods that are often overlooked (but making a comeback) dark dark greens like broccoli rabe, kale, radicchio... the list goes on. But if you're not a fan of eating all the above, you can drink them in... dun ta tada: a cocktail! Made from bubbly water and a few drops of bitters. Or just drop them straight on your tongue. "The very act of squeezing a few drops of bitters onto the tongue can be part of a ritual that results in more mindful eating." - Jovial King.

I like that philosophy and will follow their lead. Good work Urban Moonshine. To see more of their products just click here, Urban Moonshine

this has little to do with bitters but I thought this post needed an image. cocktail of the evening: Fee brother's bitters, St. George spiced pear liquor, prosecco and a squeeze of lemon. Cheers to warm springtime nights!

this has little to do with bitters but I thought this post needed an image. cocktail of the evening: Fee brother's bitters, St. George spiced pear liquor, prosecco and a squeeze of lemon. Cheers to warm springtime nights!