The Austere Doorbell
In this project I was asked to create a specific product associated with a certain character trait. As human beings, we create emotions with many objects around us. Whether it is a car, a phone or even a key holder we particularly enjoy, we tend to generate an emotional relationship towards those items and project in them emotions that are part of our human realm. Some are actually thought to enhance such characteristics - how easy and comfortable is it to use, is it aesthetically aggressive or friendly, how far can you personalise it? - such objects are made with the intention and purpose to bound with its user.
This project approached the same method, however it brought about different types of character traits and objects that would not normally be used together. In my case, I was assigned a doorbell as an object, and austere as a character trait. How would I create an austere doorbell? How would I create an austere interaction between the user and the doorbell?
The product I developed builds an austere and awkward interaction with its user, by seeing and speaking with him. After determining several factors, such as if the visit was predicted, the amount of the times the person was there before or confirming with the house, it allows or denies the entrance of the person in the property.
During the initial research I thought about the presence of this character trait amongst not only people but also in everyday objects, in design, architecture, art, and ultimately in its values. What does it represent to society in general? What are its qualities and its weaknesses? Such character trait is often perceived as negative, nevertheless it possesses qualities that not only make it interesting but widely used as inspiration in visually creative processes.
I started by brainstorming around the word and defining how I would associate it in terms of a censorial approach.
While researching for doorbells I not only learned about the differences between doorbells physically and interactively, but also its universal dimension as an object, that is, how one knows how to work a doorbell regardless of where we are in the world. Similarly, there is also a universal language that is used whenever the doorbell is pressed. The person’s feelings or emotional status on the other side of the door can easily be identified by the way the doorbell was pressed. Was it too long? Too short? Keeps pressing the button? Such things allow us to determine if the person is upset, relaxed, in a hurry or with time.
Based on the findings during the research process, I started working on initial concepts that comprised a simple and functional physical form. These provided different experiences, such as a doorbell equipped with a pull-cord that rings for a certain amount of time, and can only be rang again once the cord has come up, or another that emits a 50Khz sound that can only be heard by the house dog, which in turn notifies the owner with its barking and scares the person on the other side.
In order to come up with a final concept I felt the need to merge my five previous ones into a single product, rather than choosing only one. Nevertheless the design ought to be less conventional, something that would be less of a typical doorbell and more of an experience. While researching for cameras and their unpleasant relationship with the individual who is being watched, I made a link with Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odissey. What interested me specifically was HAL, the computer with an incredibly intimidating and constantly present “eye camera”. That was the sort of experience I was looking for, where the device would take a distant and cold position from the visitor.
Many forms and materials were tested in order to arrive to a specific visual and sensorial interaction.
For the final concept, three different models were made in terms of materiality. The reason for this was to demonstrate that the FPK 6.0 could be adapted to several environments, and therefore be suitable in many different housing typologies. The models shown below are made in glass, white-coated metal and concrete. This product was designed to exist within the property’s perimeter but it should not stand out from the house itself and instead merging with its surroundings.