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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Design-for-debate’

  • rise and fall

    The Rise and Fall or Rayfish Footwear

    For almost three years, we worked on a sneaker company that we knew would go bankrupt on the day it was founded. This is our coming out.

    The fictional company Rayfish.com offered personalized sneakers crafted from genetically modified stingray leather. The online storytelling project was created to catalyze a debate on emerging biotechnologies and the products it may bring us. It furthermore questioned our consumptive relationship with animals and products in general. While such discussions often remain abstract, we aimed to make them tangible in a concrete product you can love or hate.

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    The rise and fall of Rayfish Footwear took place within a period of seven months. The story began with the launch of the corporate website, commercial, CEO lecture and online design tool. The startup immediately received significant media attention and seemed bound for success, however, there were also critical petitions against the company’s instrumental use of animals.

    While almost ten thousand people had designed their own fish sneaker, animal rights activists broke into the company and released all the fishes in the ocean. The CEO of the company, Dr. Raymond Ong, responded with a passionate video statement, which stirred further debate on our estranged relationship with products in a globalized world.

    While Rayfish was struggling to find new investors, the escaped fishes where out in the open and started appearing into video’s of tourists and fishermen. The story ended with the bankruptcy of Rayfish, after which the true objective of the company was revealed and the ‘making of video’ was released.

    Seven highly exclusive prototypes of Stingray leather sneakers were created. The leather of the shoes was dyed with paint, rather than genetically modified.

    Further information on our motivations, collaborators and supporters can be found on the Rayfish Event webpage. We welcome comments on the Rayfish Facebook page or in the box below. Thanks for participating!

  • lowlands

    NANO Supermarket at Lowlands Festival

    This weekend some of our sustainable, energy related, NANO Supermarket products are exhibited at the lustrous Lowlands popfestival. Come visit us at the Llowlab to charge your phone on our bio-electric bonsai tree, admire the algae lamp or the new energy belt that harvests sustainable energy from your belly fat to power electric devices you are carrying on or in your body. Design fiction ahoy!

    Prototyping the Energybelt. How about turning your belly-fat into electricity?

    Festival crowd charging their phones on the 'bio-electrical' bonsai tree.

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  • NN_spread_tomorrows_fossils_530px

    Featured Page #03: Tomorrow’s Fossils

    During the coming weeks, we will present a selection of our favourite pages from the Next Nature book. This week the thirs one in this series: Tomorrow’s Fossils.

    Ode to the car in 40 years’ time? A future Museum of Obsolete Objects? Inspired by Stonehenge while living in England, Jim Reinders, an experimental American artist, originally built Carhenge in Western Nebraska as a memorial to his father. Created in 1987 with the help of his family, it is now a free tourist attraction. It uses 38 vehicles, including a 1962 Cadillac, to mirror the position of the rocks that comprise Stonehenge.

    England’s ‘natural’ past, an idealized place of agrarian idyll and legendary deeds, is transported to contemporary America. Reinders argues for the mythological resonance of the automobile, both as a continuation of past traditions, and as a progenitor of myth itself. As much as we live exclusively in next nature, we look to old nature, and old culture, for context. Will vintage gas-guzzlers prove as enduring as Stonehenge’s boulders?

    Past Perfect
    Certain technologies, already obsolete in our time, may be as inscrutable in the distant future as long-extinct species are to us. When presented as a natural part of the geological record, a cellphone or a Playstation controller becomes a rare oddity. The skeletons of videogame and cartoon characters are just as disorientating, conjuring a life (and death) for the patently fictional. Yet these imagined artifacts recognize the same premise: the fossil record of our species will not be distinguished by our bones, but by our technologies.


    Featured here are pages 56-57 from the book Next Nature: Nature Changes Along with Us. More information about the book can be found here.

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  • Nanowine_bottle_530

    A Winery in your Microwave

    A delicious Montepulciano in only 6 seconds? This is now possible with the universal Nano wine. All you need is a microwave oven.

    In 5,64 seconds at 1000 watt you have a sublime Romanée-Conti. Or create a surprisingly young Mouton-Rothschild 1945 in only 2,34 seconds at 650 watt. The possibilities are endless. The wine contains millions of nano capsules which depending on your mood and taste preferences can be activated by microwaves. Inactivated nano capsules move unnoticed through the body, while the opened capsules alter the taste, smell and color of the wine. Sweet!

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  • afterlife battery

    Afterlife for Atheists

    Where religions promise their believers a life after death and cryonics also needs a kind of belief in future technological development, designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau are working on a project providing reassurance on life after death.

    After death the human body is assimilated back to its basic building blocks: the elements. The Afterlife concept intervenes in this process by saving the energy that is released during the assimilation. This energy is contained in an ordinary dry cell battery which can be used according to the last wishes of the deceased.

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  • YouTube Preview Image

    Ghosts with Shit Jobs

    This trailer for the mockumentary Ghost With Shit Jobs shows a could-be-future in which the role of the West and the East is reversed. Very good timing I would say.

    More on: ghostswithshitjobs.com. Via NRC Next

  • Get Vegetarian Teeth and Eat Less Meat

    Get Vegetarian Teeth and Eat Less Meat

    Want to live a greener life? Eat less meat. Recently the UN appealed for a radical shift in diet, to improve individual health and ease conditions affecting the global environment. Reducing meat consumption by 10% reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

    Unfortunately, humans are omnivores. Our teeth are designed to eat both meat and plants. Susana Soares and her colleagues designers and engineers of the Material Beliefs program propose to alter human teeth structures into those of herbivores, in order to become a better vegetarian.

    Teeth are an essential tool for nutrition and their shape is related to diet. Herbivore animals have developed teeth structures suited to the consumption of plant material. Can our teeth structure be replaced to encourage dietary shifts that reflect social concerns?

    Soon at a local dentist near you? Perhaps your government will even give you a tax cut for adopting a more sustainable veggy lifestyle? No seriously, this is bio play.

    See also: Phone Tooth, Orthorexia Nervosa: the healty eating disorder.

  • hiking using cell phone

    Humane Technology #6: Improve the Human Condition

    And now for the sixth and final principle: Humane technology improves the human condition and helps people realize the dreams they have of themselves.

    No matter what your government might be telling you, we probably don’t need better defense technology. Instead of killer robots and city-leveling bombs, we need tech that adds to the very best in ourselves- our health, our minds and our dreams for the future. Naturalist E.O Wilson’s notion of biophilia should not be limited just to humans. Technology should love life as much as we do.

    Humane technology, as a concept, can be tricky to pin down. What is humane in one circumstance is irritating or destructive in another. A cell phone may be more humane than a landline, permitting the talker to wander around, free to conduct business or call home from the far side of the globe. But cell phones may be inhumane for precisely this reason. A Blackberry or iPhone can seem less like an indispensable fifth limb than a second mouth that just won’t shut up. A technology can never defined as entirely humane or entirely inhumane. There is no end point that makes a certain device ‘humane.’ We may not know it by how it looks, but we will know it by how it feels.


  • orange hippo roller

    Humane Technology #3: Take Human Values as a Cornerstone

    The third principle of humane technology: It should take human values as a cornerstone of its development.

    Technology doesn’t have to be expensive or electronic to be humane. Think of it as the Occam’s Razor of humane technology. The simpler the solution, the better the outcome. For instance, the Hippo Water Roller makes it significantly easier for poor, rural communities to haul water from a lake or river back to their homes. Rolling water, rather than carrying it, reduces stress on the body and frees up time for other tasks. Taking human values into consideration for technology goes beyond basic humanitarian aims.  The development of humane tech should consider the fact that any new device will be nested within a rich network of social actors. Designers needs to keep an eye on the societal and environmental ramifications of novel technologies and act accordingly.

    See also the LifeStraw, Adaptive Eyewear and the dubiously world-changing One Laptop Per Child. These might not be the most Next Nature-esque technologies we’re featured here, but they’re certainly worth a ponder.

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  • jetsons pill

    Humane Technology #1: Feels Natural

    All too often, technology frustrates us. It forces our behavior into constrained pathways. Even more insidious, technology can knock us out of alignment with our values, goals or health. While conventional tech creates new problems even as it solves old ones, ‘humane technology’ has the opposite effect. It is a partner, not a passive tool. It works with our bodies and instincts, not against them. This post is the first in a series that attempts to make a field guide or mini-manifesto for humane technology.  To kick it off, here’s the first principle of the six: Humane technology should feel natural, rather than estranging.

    Medicine can be hard to swallow, and vaccine needles makes even the bravest patients squirm. Is there a friendlier way to what’s good for us? Humane technology recognizes that humans are not one-size-fits-all. What works like a charm for you might feel like a curse to me. Humane technology should strive to replicate the walking leaf: so well adapted to the local conditions that you might not even notice, or mind, that it’s there. Just don’t be surprised if your doctor prescribes medical-grade sushi made from GM fish, or uses a painless needle based on a mosquito’s proboscis. The technology behind our advances might be mind-boggling, but the results should feel as natural as our own skin.

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  • Bald is beautiful

    New steps to meld mind and machine

    Until now we’ve seen the types of brain-computer interface where the human has to put on some sort of bulky hat full of wires to control a machine. It won’t be like that for long: the future of organic electronics may already be here.  In 2009, a team of Swedish scientists created the first artificial nerve cell that communicates with nerves in their own language of neurotransmitter chemicals, rather than with electrical impulses.  More recently, another team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison scratched the surface of a new kind of brain-machine interface by wiring computer chips with living nerve cells.

    These technologies are radically shifting conventional brain-computer interfaces.  Not only can they help people with diseases such as schizophrenia or Parkinson’s, but they also present exciting possibilities for neurotypical humans.  For example, such devices could allow you to control the machines around you, and to communicate with them as well.  Yes, creepy if it gets hacked. Or here’s another idea: what if you could communicate your thoughts to another person just by thinking? Then it wouldn’t be brain-machine interfaces anymore, but brain-machine-brain interfaces.

    Photo: link

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  • hairy-switch_530

    Disgusting Switches

    If a light switch would be hairy or snotty nobody would want to turn on the light anymore, which is exactly why designer Katrin Baumgarten created some of the most one nauseating switches she could imagine.

    One of the switches sprays snot at the one who dares to push it, while another one simply retreats when the finger comes near. A third one has tiny moving hairs to refrain you from switching. The message? Be mindful about your energy use. You really have to need the light before you dare switching one of Baumgartens disgusting creations.

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  • Nano Product: Pharmaceutical Sushi

    Nano Product: Pharmaceutical Sushi

    Are we creating the penicillin or the asbestos of the 21st century? Prior to the arrival of the Nano Supermarket, we share some speculative nanotech products with you. Here’s the first in the Nano Supermarket Products series: Pharmaceutical Sushi. Taking medicine becomes a social activity. And it tastes pretty good!

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  • YouTube Preview Image

    Nano Supermarket on Dutch TV News

    The Dutch evening News payed a visit to our Nano Supermarket to familiarize the television viewers with the intricate world of nanotechnology and its potential impact our economy and everyday lives. I apologize to 95% of our readers for the Dutch language in the item. Luckily we’ve got subtitles.

  • nanosupermarket_collage_530

    Nano Supermarket Opens its Doors

    Nanotechnology is an important emerging technology of our time – it radically intervenes with our sense of what is natural – yet most people are still relatively unaware of its consequences. The NANO Supermarket presents speculative nanotech products that may hit the shelves within the next ten years: medicinal candy, interactive wall paint, programmable wine, a twitter implant, invisible security spray.

    Our products are both innovative and useful as well as uncanny and disturbing. They were envisioned as scenarios for potential nano futures, that help us decide what nano future we want. Come visit the Nano Supermarket to taste & test the products and experience the impact of nanotechnology on our everyday lives.

    More info: www.nextnature.net/nano-supermarket

  • Arcade_video_game_buttons___530

    The Buttons

    Nowadays buttons are completely mundane and natural objects in our environment. You find them on phones, alarm clocks, keyboards, elevators, dishwashers and of course on the computer screen. You press buttons countless times throughout your day, but hardly think of them consciously.

    The little symbols of control are so omnipresent, it is difficult to imagine that buttons did not always exist. Certainly people in the stone age did not press them – taken that nipples do not count as buttons – but we don’t know exactly when we started pushing buttons and who invented them.

    Apparently buttons were unknown until the early 20th Century, with the possible exception of valves on wind instruments. When small controls were needed, for example on camera shutters, they were usually styled after latches or triggers.

    Recent RCA graduate Nitipak Samsen, took it upon himself to re-investigate and re-design the concept of the button altogether, moving from the button as a symbol of control, an extension of the human desire to harness the planet, to inter-control.

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  • Call_01_530

    Infotizement Call For Entries

    In anticipation of the forthcoming Next Nature book, we call upon you, dearest creatives, to submit a fictitious editorial advertisement: The Infotizement.

    The infotizement is a new editorial typology that is the exact opposite of the advertorial, which presents itself as editorial content but is in fact an advertisement in disguise. The infotizement presents itself as an ad and aggressively exploits the visual language of advertising – but rather than trying to sell you something, it conveys a story, message or statement.

    Sounds nice, but what’s in it for me?
    The best infotizements will be published in the forthcoming Next Nature book (see below) and the submitters of selected infotizements receive a free copy. Additionally, the top 3 submissions are awarded with a Next Nature goodie package, including a DVD, icon watch, and t-shirt.
    How to contribute?
    Take the following in consideration when submitting:

    – Download the Infotizement Call For Entries pdf file (852Kb)
    – Take a post or observation from nextnature.net as inspiration, this gives your infotizement focus
    – Use the classical elements of advertising: image, payoff (slogan) and logo (sender)
    – Give your infotizement a corporate feel: high-quality, seductive imagery, packshots, commercial typesetting etc.
    – Use and misuse corporate logos, or invent your own
    – Study the examples in this pdf
    – Page size = 40p x 56p (170 x 238mm)
    – Margins =3p (12,7mm)
    – Bleed on every side: 1p (= 5mm)
    – Image quality preferrably 300 dpi / 100% size
    – If you use other people’s images, please include image credits, or a source/url
    where you found the used material so that we can clear the rights.
    – Send your submission before friday oktober 22nd, 2010 to: infotizement@nextnature.net

    Your infotizements will be judged by a jury consisting of Koert van Mensvoort and Hendrik-Jan Grievink (editors of the Next Nature book), Arnoud van den Heuvel (editor nextnature.net), Rolf Coppens (editor nextnature.net), Mieke Gerritzen (designer and director of the Graphic Design Museum Breda, NL) and Dagan Cohen (creative director at Draftfcb).

    Digital mockup of the Next Nature book.

    About the book
    In a highly visual, magazine-style way, the Next Nature book combines re-edited material from NextNature.net with new material such as maps, graphs, visual essays and written contributions by Next Nature mavericks such as Kevin Kelly, Bruce Sterling, Rachel Armstrong, Peter Lunenfeld and Tracy Metz.

    – Circulation: 4.000 copies
    – Editing and design: Koert van Mensvoort and Hendrik-Jan Grievink
    – Volume: 448 pages over seven chapters
    – Binding: seven separate magazines, glued together in one softcover volume
    – Release date: 2011
    – Publisher: Actar, Barcelona