Kaleidoscopic Home: How Play Can Enrich Our Everyday Lives
Photo — Seth Nicolas
What if a home could be spontaneously sculptural, rather than static — and how might that affect our health and well-being? Our exhibition Kaleidoscopic Home is a speculative installation exploring how playful interventions in our home can enrich our everyday lives.
This is an ordinary room.
We’ve simply heightened your awareness to more possibilities.
‘What if we experienced a different home each time we woke up?’
Tin & Ed
When we pay attention and respond to spatial cues — whether uneven ground, overgrowing plants, or digitally generated obstacles unfurling in our living room — this draws us into life.
How can playscapes within our homes shape our health and well-being?
Everyday Experiments is an ongoing series of digital experiments by SPACE10 and IKEA, exploring ways to enhance our interactions with space and improve our everyday lives. The result is an array of clever ideas, radical proposals and exciting fictional prototypes, which each challenge the role of technology in the home.
For Everyday Experiments, Tin & Ed created an augmented reality (AR) application that could help improve your physical and mental well-being. The app turns your home into an extraordinary playground filled with an ever-changing array of surprising sculptural forms. Using AR and object recognition, generative forms would emerge from the surface of your tables and chairs, floors, walls and ceilings. Through playful new configurations, the digital additions would continuously transform your space and create unexpected pathways through familiar surroundings.
With this exhibition, we asked them to extend the digital experiment into physical space.
Studies have shown that spaces that engage us in multiple ways can have positive physical and mental benefits, like boosting our immune system and promoting brain and cognitive health. Blue Zones are places on Earth where people live the longest and healthiest lives. Communities there live in environments that nudge them into natural movement.
Madeline Gins and Shusaku Arakawa devoted their lives to the concept of reversible destiny. They believed ‘death is old-fashioned’ and that we could resist it by living in a perpetual state of instability. So they designed unusual, colourful, undulating homes that would keep residents on their toes. Their architecture is a sensorial awakening to remind us we are alive.
‘Play is vital for children’s mental, physical, and social development, but we believe it’s just as crucial for people of all ages.’
Tin & Ed
We know that when adults play, it can relieve stress and increase emotional well-being. Play, like meditation, tasks us with being present.
Sculptor and playground designer Isamu Noguchi believed sculpted, artistic environments should be part of everyday life. He thought children should experience a playground the way humans first experienced Earth: as a spectacular and complex place. Like Gins and Arakawa, Noguchi’s radical ideas were ahead of their time.
‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.’
George Bernard Shaw
A tactile, animated, evolving home
What if the home could be a labyrinth of ever-generative flurries of activity, rather than a space of complacency? What if each day provoked a new excursion into wildly creative play?
In the spirit of Noguchi, Gins and Arakawa, Tin & Ed have converted SPACE10 Gallery into an immersive installation that encourages play. Springing off from the digital environment generated by their app, the exhibition extends this augmented reality with tactile sculptures. The result is an immersive playscape that nudges us towards boundless ways of moving and being — like a playground for all ages.
The tactile sculptures are made from recyclable ripstop cloth. The soft forms are filled with BioFoam®, a biopolymer bead made from sugar cane, which can be reused, remoulded, or industrially composted. The artists collaborated with lighting designers Fady Sadeq and Asif Rahman to illuminate the inflatable sculptures which physically manifest the digital playscape.
For the exhibition poster, we collaborated with graphic designer Joseph Han to transpose Kaleidoscopic Home’s themes to printed matter for visitors to take home. It features a poem by Sophie Isherwood that imagines the animacy of homes. ‘Questions For The Space You Live In’ asks us to consider the ways we perceive our homes and the ways our homes, with their hidden life, might regard us.
At the heart of Kaleidoscopic Home is a playful exploration of how emerging technology might redefine the future of how we live at home. The AR app generates digital obstacles in response to everyday surfaces like tables and chairs, to fill each day with spontaneity. While the exhibition encourages interaction with both tangible sculptures and digital visual cues, in the future we could achieve this experience solely with an app.
In the future, the Kaleidoscopic Home’s limitless AR overlay could transform every home into a dynamic playscape — making health-improving homes democratically accessible.
‘AR has the potential to intelligently generate experiences that are fully adaptive to different ages and abilities,’ Tin says. ‘This means it could sync with a health app to understand your physical limits and needs. It could also evolve to recognise not only spatial context but time of day, and what level of liveliness you prefer at that hour.’
Kaleidoscopic Home exhibited at SPACE10 Gallery from 12 November 2021 to 1 July 2022. Watch a walkthrough of the exhibition.
Tin Nguyen & Edward Cutting are Australian artists and creative technologists based in New York. They create playful installations and experiences that illuminate the borderless dimension between art and science, the physical and the digital, the human and the non-human. Their work is driven by a deep curiosity for the natural world and the intricate ways we are connected to it. They use art to envision the world through this lens of interconnectedness.
Sophie Isherwood is a poet, writer, and editor living in New York. Her work has been featured in numerous publications such as The Sewanee Review, Waxwing Literary Journal, and Prelude Magazine. She has worked as a creative director for brands and, most recently, as Head of Copy for Aesop.
Joseph Han is a creative director based in New York. He has collaborated with Apple, Google, Facebook, Harvard Graduate School of Design, AIA Center for Architecture, Yale University, The New York Times, Storefront for Art & Architecture, and his work has featured in WIRED, Fast Company, Quartz, The New York Times, and It’s Nice That. He is an associate creative director at COLLINS and was previously at Pentagram and Base Design.
Fady Sadeq is a software engineer and Unity developer. Asif Rahman is an electrical engineer. They are both based in Washington DC. Together they engineered the lighting system for the exhibition.