Wednesday 13th of April

In our technology driven society it becomes more and more complex to distinguish real from virtual experiences. The French philosopher Baudriallard stressed this already in the 80ths when he claimed that we are replacing reality by symbols and signs and that the human experience with reality becomes a simulacra; a copy that has no longer a relation with its origin.

When we look at modern technologies, like Virtual Reality or serious games, we more and more replace the real by simulations of it. Virtual environments can offer us cheaper, easy accessible learning experiences and they are ‘on demand’ available. Besides, it is mentioned that VR stories can enrich our experiences because of its immersive nature. A VR application on the crises Aleppo was praised for it’s empathic and engaging qualities. ‘Where traditional video opened up a window to the outside world, virtual reality now holds the promise of tearing down the walls altogether, immersing you in distant realities like never.”

However Matthew Crawford stresses in his latest book World beyond your head the necessity to engage with the real again in fact he calls for a more activist approach; we need to reclaim the real because of its vital importance for maintaining humanity.

How are we in touch with the world around us? And how important is the real physical connectivity in our digital surroundings? 
We will discuss this with a.o:

Ilse Crawford
A designer, academic and creative director with a simple mission to put human needs and desires at the centre of all that she does. As founder of Studioilse, together with her multi-disciplinary, London-based team, she brings her philosophy to life. This means creating environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them. It means designing furniture and products that support and enhance human behaviour and actions in everyday life. It means restoring the human balance in brands and businesses that have lost their way. As founder of the department of Man and Wellbeing at the Design Academy Eindhoven, her mission extends to nurturing a new generation of students to always question why and how their work improves the reality of life.

Liam Maher
Alongside his role as Global Brand Director for Amsterdam-based Denham, Maher has been described as a "cult fashion tinkerer" who is regularly engaged in projects along the fringes of international fashion and menswear industry. This work is engineered to provoke dialog regarding the role of design, cultural-reference, and craftsmanship within the expression of masculine identity and is often framed by the questions; 'Where I Come From', 'Where I Belong' and 'Where I Hope to Go.'

Justin McGuirk
Justin McGuirk is a writer and curator based in London. He is the chief curator at the Design Museum and the head of Design Curating & Writing at Design Academy Eindhoven. He has been the director of Strelka Press, the design critic of The Guardian, and the editor of Icon magazine. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. His book Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture is published by Verso.

Charles Spence
Professor Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory. He is interested in how people perceive the world around them. In particular, how our brains manage to process the information from each of our different senses (such as smell, taste, sight, hearing, and touch) to form the extraordinarily rich multisensory experiences that fill our daily lives. His research focuses on how a better understanding of the human mind will lead to the better design of multisensory foods, products, interfaces, and environments in the future. His research calls for a radical new way of examining and understanding the senses that has major implications for the way in which we design everything from household products to mobile phones, and from the food we eat to the places in which we work and live.


Ilse Crawford

Liam Maherd

Justin McGuirk

Charles Spence