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“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

– Steve Jobs

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Research & Writing


Research Statement

My work revolves around how the designed behavior of things (objects and spaces, physical and virtual) can create powerful mixes of utility and significance for people. In particular, I’m interested in deploying systems of smart things with productive affordances that enable:

  • knowledge creation, dissemination, and exploration
  • evocative, poetic and powerful interactions with our virtual and physical things
  • the inspiration and fostering of imagination

These ecologies of things are composed of embodied and tangible artifacts in combination with virtual, pliable media in all its forms. In addition to creating systems of knowledge, control and imagination, I’m interested in the fundamental and challenging questions around the relationship between the tangible and the virtual, the embodied thing and the media thing.

The growing convergence of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Immersive Media is creating an urgent need for new modes of interaction that move beyond conventional approaches such as human centered design. Instead we need rich conversational ecosystems that foster exchange and knowledge building across the milieu.

The following are specific areas of investigation:

Animistic Design – Exploring the natural human tendency to think that objects and spaces have an inner life that is expressed through behaviors. I think it’s possible to use a poetic version of animism to make our complex digital stuff more understandable and transparent, paradoxically by wrapping the behavior of these systems in imaginative fictions of personality, memory and narrative. The use of multiple animistic systems allows people to work with AI in a more conversational, propositional manner where they create a dialog that builds new meanings in a shared milieu. Animistic Design as a new approach to AI that builds productive ecosystems for creative work.

The New Ecology of Things – The design of interactive systems that embed computing and networking capability in everyday objects and spaces, creating new, embodied interactions for people. These systems sense and act in the world and involve human scale interfaces, activating spaces with kinetic behavior, embedding dynamic images, video, text and audio in spaces, and creating ecologies of networked devices that communicate and work collaboratively with each other and with people.

Productive Interaction – Designing new systems of interaction that empower the user to create their own sets of meanings.

Interactive Music & Sound – Designing systems that enable people to dynamically interact with sound to create new experiences. These systems are smart and understand how to automatically remix and recombine music and sound, providing the user with simple handles for complex behaviors.