RIP Philips Design probes

31st March 2012

Sadly yesterday was the last day of the Philips Design probes team. Having been pushing the boundaries of design interactions, technology and future living for 17 years their position on design futures has scoped the design landscape and given us thought provoking projects.

From its early days of merging fashion and technology in the first wearable electronics (where I was lucky enough to be a founder member of the team),then known as 'Intelligent Fibres' it grew into the world renowned team that offered us a vision of the future.

Concepts around topics of sustainable living to the future of 'Food' with concepts of rapid prototyped food and diagnostic chocolate to their most recent project 'The Microbal home'.

Director and undeniable visionary of the group for the 17 years Clive van Heerden sent out a farewell e mail to those lucky enough to have been involved over the years.

'We were given a unique opportunity through the Design Probe programme to explore a wide range of issues and work with amazing artistic, design and engineering talent both within and beyond Philips Design. We feel privileged to have worked for an organisation that had the open-mindedness and courage to assert a position in the global design and technology community and to engage in the debates about the role and scope of designers in general.'

True words indeed. Probes will be missed, but watch this space as Clive and Jack Mama transmutate into a new being and era.





Microbal home

3rd November 2011

The latest Philips Design probe was unveiled during Dutch Design week. Shown within Piet Hein Eeks space it explores a future home scenario that is totally self sufficient. The overall idea for the Microbal home is for an integrated cyclical ecosystem where each function’s output is another’s input - essentially the home becomes a biological machine to filter, process and recylcle what we conventionally think of as waste – sewage, effluent, garbage, waste water.

Concept appliances within the home are a bio luminescent light that is powered from bioluminescent bacteria and a 'Patemoster’ a plastic waste up-cycler that uses mycelium (from mushrooms) to break down plastic packaging waste in the home. They also suggest an urban beehive that lives within the home and a kitchen table that is also where you grow vegetables that are kept 'fresh' for longer with 'Evaporative cooling' technology.

There is also a beautiful film commenting on future dirt and nano technology in collaboration with Nancy Tilbury, Bart Hess and Harm Rensik that is beautiful and thought provoking, I will post it up once it is released.



Self Health, Philips Design


Synthetic Immune system, Tuur Van Balen


Self health

12th May 2010

Its always a pleasure to see the latest offering from the Philips Design probes programme.

I have it on good authority that the one they are currently working on is the best yet, but until they unveil that one their Self Help is beautiful and thought provoking.

Taking a provocative (of course!) and unconventional look what will effect our own health in the future based on our lifestyle choices they have come up with a set of designs that will enable us to monitor our health.

Looking to the shift from curative to preventative medicine and the increase in the role of modern perceptions of health they uncovered a series of issues with our relationship with our bodies and illness.

The project is focussed on 3 areas of self health -

Body Dysmorphia tracks the rise in anorexia and obesity as well as the modern worlds obsession with body beautiful, plastic surgery and botox, whilst Body Talk looks to ways to remind people how lifestyle choices affect our health over a lifetime and that disease is not predetermined. The final theme considers how as society we have a growing isolation from each other resulting in what they refer to as 'Touch Hunger'.

Next steps they will use these concepts to conduct interviews to gain an understanding into peoples preferred self help future and the outcome will inform design led projects within Philips.

In the same vein Tuur Van Balen's synthetic immune system shown as part of the Impact exhibition at the RCA explores the potential of a future where we take responsibility for our own diagnosis whereby we become our own doctors and pharmacists. He suggests that by externalising and outsourcing our metabolic processes we will be able to diagnose anomalies in our body and create synthetic immune systems that would be tailored to our age, lifestyle and anxieties.





Feeding the Senses

18th February 2010

The latest project in the curious food probe from Philips Design is a collaboration with Spanish restaurantt Arzak. Dubbed 'Multisensorial Gastronomy' it is the next step in the potential of future food and the future kitchen/restaurant.

As part of their far reaching probes project they are looking at how food will be ingested, enjoyed and experienced in the future.

Taking familiar objects from our every day lives such as the serving plate, they have redesigned them and updated them for future thinking. Embedding conductive inks, selective fragrance discharge, micro-vibration and lights - the crockery sets out to enhance our eating experience as our senses are stimulated on multiple levels.


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I use this blog as a notebook of inspirations – I post things I see and like and thoughts of mine. I don't revolve around a singular topic and neither does this blog. Everything and anything is relevant


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