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I don’t know the answer, of course, but I go to a lot of events and see a lot of fascinating things and on Monday night I went to The Simplicity Event put on by Philips Design on Pier 94 in Manhattan and it just blew me away. I saw technology as natural harmony, seamlessly integrated into the way we normally move through life. Not communicating through keyboards and computers but through our voices and hands and eyes in normal, natural and yes, simple, ways. It was human, not technoid, and it was clearly the future. I couldn’t find any actual reference to this great event on the Philips site but our partner, Core77, was right there.
So on Monday evening I got out of the cab on 54th and 12 avenue on the Hudson River and walkedinto an old pier. Philips constructed an entirely new world inside, with white gauze panels for walls and ceilings. I walked down a long aisle to a table to get your ID. Now I really hate IDs that you have to pin to your suit or shirt. The idea of making a hole in what I’m weaing bugs me (OK, OK). Philips invented this totally cool magnet ID. A small magnet slips into your pocket or dress or shirt and the ID adheres to it. Brilliant concept. No holes.
Then I walked down to the bar—where lots of New York’s (or should I say Brooklyn’s?) young, hot designers were talking and networking. There were folks from Smart Design, Microsoft, David Rockwell’s group, Audiovox, RitaSue Siegel, the doyen of design management headhunters and Angela Yeh, an up-and-coming design headhunter and others—plus a small army from Philips.
Stefano Marzano was there, dressed in a white sports jacket and looking very European. He's done great stuff at Philips Design since taking over as chief creative director. His speech, however, needs some work. It was very "euro," bewailing the troubles of the world, from pandemics to terrorists to global warming and yes, food additives. We're a little more optimistic on this side of the Atlantic, Stefano.
And the incredible consumer and healthcare product concepts that Philips showed right after the speeches by Stefano and Scott Lehman, director of Philips Design USA, were paens to optimism. They were glorious in that they were so well thought out in terms of how we live and move through the world.
I can't do justice to the Illusion System entertainment system and the intuitive interaction between the wand and the incredible screen and wrap-around sound system. Just know that there is no computer interface to deal with, no buttons, no menus, no computer paradigm. It's just you. The In Touch Video Messaging was pure joy. It worked as you would want it. And the Ambient hospital room for kids getting scanned was brilliant. Getting them to choose their own music and moving images to soothe and calm them is such a wonderful idea. You could extend that to different age and culural groups.
One of my favorite things was the Light Chime--a whole new thing. A round light on a three foot stick, It changes color as the wind blows harder or softer. Line your walkway or put dozens into the ground, it creates a beautiful effect. Never seen anything like it.
Philips Design has now spun out from Philips--just like IBM's design and innovation group under Lee Green. BMW and Porsche did this years ago. You can actually hire these brilliant people. You should.
And go see this exhibit if you can. It travels. Next stop is London.
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