Koert van Mensvoort

Creative Director
Artist and philosopher. The discovery of Next Nature has been the most profound experience in his life so far.
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Fake Nature

Birthmarks Tattoo

As the name suggests, Birthmarks Tattoos, are fake – but permanent – birthmarks that you can add to your body. Aside from its decorative potential, Birthmarks Tattoo makes it possible for you and your partner to “exchange” birthmarks or to imprint your body with a secret message in braille. Birthmarks Tattoo is a concept by Dutch designers Julia Müller, Arjan Groot and Menno Wittebrood who were commissioned by the magazine Identity Matters to come up with an idea for new ways of tattooing.

Via Guerrila Innovation | See also: Barcode Tattoos | Electronic Tattoos

Anthropomorphobia

Kitten Ears – Blushing 2.0

Always wanted a pair of kitten ears to express your feelings to the world? Well, you probably never thought of that – as you have to be a Japanese genius to come up with such an idea – but now that you’ve seen them you crave for some kitten ears to communicate your feelings to the outer world.

According to the designers of Neurowear.net, the kitten ears convey your feelings by responding to your brainwaves. The ears should go up when you concentrate and down when you relax. Think of it as blushing 2.0. How that brainwave–feelings–ears mapping is exactly algorithmically defined is currently still unclear to us. This could result in some confusing communicative behavior, which wouldn’t matter that much as it would be very kitten like anyhow. Smart.

Thanks Mattheus Swinkels.

Designed-by-Evolution

Urban Birds have Bigger Brains

Researchers learned that city birds have larger brains relative to their body size. No, they are not getting big-headed from their exposure to big-city sophistication, but rather need larger brains to survive in the more challenging urban environments.

The biologists from institutions in Sweden and Spain studied 82 species of birds from 22 families, focusing on 12 cities in France and Switzerland. Their findings are published in the journal Biology Letters.

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Augmented-Bodies

People are better at growing Limbs than Lizards

Whereas lizards have the extraordinary ability to regenerate lost limbs – meaning that if the lizard loses a limb through conflict with a predator, it will grow back – people have a perhaps even more extraordinary ability to extent themselves with technological limbs: shoes, cars, bikes, warm winter coats, cellphones.

Mobile phones are a good example of a victorious second nature that becomes a first nature. Although they were introduced relatively recently, almost everyone carries a mobile device, and when you accidentally leave your house without your phone it feels naked, almost like you have been amputated, and you quickly run back to your house to grasp your missing limb – your cell phone – off the table.

Food Technology

Egg Sausage

Our food production is much more technological than we typically realize. My appologies for disturbing your trance; I realize that sometimes you’d rather linger in the illusion. At least, next time when you’re having a salad in a hotel, you don’t have to wonder where the edges of the egg went. Peculiar image of the week.

Calm-technology

Morphing Cutlery

Imagine a world where the shapes of all objects around you would be able to change on the fly. Envision a future where nanotechnology and morphing become ubiquitous and blend in with the physical environment of the everyday. One day society will look back on our crude, static appliances and wonder how we survived without programmable matter catering to our needs.

It is the goal of designer Jeffrey Braun to explore how to design for a new interaction paradigm that is proposed as ‘Morphing Interaction’, as conducted at the Next Nature lab. When the digital merges with the physical world, our perceptions of space, time and the physical become a play with reality. As morphological properties do not impose specific forms or interactions for a design, it allows for an abundance of functionalities. The freedom of form that will be inherent to these products might not inform the user about the physical actions. Meaningful actions, forms and states will need to be created, where a harmony between human physicality, interface and physical representation is needed.

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Hyperreality

The Woods Smell of Shampoo

Named after the story of a city girl that washes her hair with pine-needle shampoo and one day walks in the woods with her daddy says “Daddy! The Woods Smell of Shampoo”, this Dutch VPRO documentary investigates how media became the filters through which we experience the world around us.

Media experiences are often more satisfying than real experiences. Do we still have real experiences or are all our feelings and thoughts shaped by media technologies? And if that’s the case, how bad is this anyhow?

Ten years ago, when The Woods Smell of Shampoo was broadcasted on Dutch television, much of its statements were considered preposterous. Over time the film has gained a certain luster – if only for being Next Nature avant la lettre.

Co-Evolution

System Animals

What animal is so naive to come into this world as a naked and crying infant, completely vulnerable, helpless, and an easy prey for any predator? Newborn lamb or giraffe’s babies can walk within a few hours, but it takes humans years and years to learn to take care of themselves. Yet, despite our physical vulnerability, we’ve proven not only able to survive, but even to dominate the planet. How come?

Unlike other animals, which have specific organs, skills and reflexes that enable them to survive in their proper environment, humans have never been placed in an environment for which we are specifically equipped. The human physique implies that there is no such thing as a ‘purely’ natural environment for us. We are system animals: technological beings by nature.

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Biomimicmarketing

Is it a Plane? Is it a Bird?

The zoomorphic designers of Festo, whom you might know from the robot penguins and a robotic elephant trunk, now managed to decipher the flight of birds. Their prototype is modeled on the herring gull and can take off, fly and land while its flight is controlled remotely from the ground in real time.

We are unsure whether these robotic birds will be participating in the enforcement of the no-flight zone in Libya. Anyhow, next time you see a bird flying overhead, look closer.

Thanks Wouter Walmink & Iñaki Merino Albaina.

Innovative Nostalgia

Angel with Cellphone adorns Cathedral

To mark the twelve-year restoration of the Sint Jan cathedral in Den Bosch, a new statue of an angel carrying a mobile phone was added to the building. The angel joins the many other statues adorning the outside of the mediaeval cathedral.

Member of the churchboard, Pieter Kohnen, explained the modern frivolity by explaining that “angels help us to communicate with the invisible world. Specifically, in these days, in which so many modern communication means are available, angels want to remain reachable.”

The statue was created by sculptor Ton Mooy, who was responsible to for the renewal of the statues on the cathedral. The last in the series needed a modern twist, he decided. The phone has just one button, the artist says – it directly dials God. As well as holding a mobile phone, the carved stone angel is also wearing jeans. Peculiar image of the week.

Biomimicry

Vertical Farming

Columbia professor Dickson Despommier imagines filling New Yorks skyscrapers with farms. As over 50% of the world population now lives in urban areas, this scenario could solve distribution problems and reconnect people with their food. Unsure if the pig skyscraper is also incorporated in the plan.

Anthropomorphobia

Voodoo Phone

Japanese professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka University has quite a track record of threading the uncanny valley. Remember his Doppelgänger Robot and Geminoid Female? His current proposal brings new dimensions to mobile communications: Humanoid dimensions.

Although our human body language is one the most effective and natural channels for communication, it plays no role in mobile communication so far. Hence Hiroshi Ishiguro teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a humanoid shaped phone, called Elfoid, which adds an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote person.


The fleshy urethane skinned prototype has a deliberate genderless and ageless appearance, as this should allow for the projection of the personality of any caller. Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user’s face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which should then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

The Elfoid phone immediately reminded us of the voodoo communication device for lovers, conceptualized by Yu Yu Chien some years ago. Although some of the negative connotations of voodoo are better avoided, projecting a remote person in a hand held doll, has proven to provide for a powerful psychological effect. Contrary to many of Ishiguro’s earlier humanoids the Elfoid phone combines human realism with a strong symbolic quality that could turn out to be a winning team.

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Nano Supermarket

Nano World Map

The NanoWorld Map is an imaginative map of the emerging world of nanotechnology. It presents an overview of the state of the art of nanotechnology: its application domains, its enabling technologies and products.

When traveling through the landscape of the Nano World one comes across its opportunities, fears, risks and desires. Established applications are presented as cities, whereas speculative applications are rendered as villages.

Map out your route or travel along the given routes on the map. Imagine how the products on your journey will have impact on your life and the life of others. Would you use the products? How can this change your life and what will be the impact on your environment?

Launch the: Online Version of the Nano World Map.


The Nano World Map was designed by Niko Vegt, advised by Hendrik-Jan Grievink, Koert van Mensvoort and Bart Walhout in collaboration with the Rathenau Institute. Created for the Nano Supermarket. Sponsored by Nanopodium.

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Biomimicry

Tree Temple

So we may think ‘guided growth‘ is a typically 21th century design methodology, yet apparently it was also in vogue in the 19th century.

According the original description in the Picture magazine 1893, this century old Maple tree “has been turned into a kind of temple of two stories, each of its compartments being lighted by eight windows, and capable of containing twenty people wit ease. The floors are constructed of boughs skillfully woven together, of which the leaves make a sort of natural carpet. The walls are formed of thick leafage, in which innumerable birds build their nests”

We are unsure if this tree ever existed or that is a 19th century design fiction.

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