Anyone in Dubai this week can’t miss the city’s most happening event, Dubai Design Week. Showcasing the region’s most incredible talent, the Fourth edition of the annual Dubai Design Week brings together some incredible installations, exhibitions, performances, workshops & experience, all celebrating the growing & vibrant creative community in Dubai & its incredible design talent.
Inspired by the incredible talent on display at Dubai Design Week (and a part of the Global Grad Show), we sat down with emerging designer Martina Solés Caldés of The End of Emotional Privacy; a bodysuit dedicated to reading emotions. Using infrared technology, the bodysuit is able to depict emotions by mapping out body heat. Simultaneously, the body suit plays on the growing social concern over data privacy. Fascinated by this meaningful & highly relevant concept, we sat down with the designer to discuss her journey, the impact of social media and Dubai Design Week 2018.
Martina’s Journey Thus Far
Martina: When I was a child I wanted to be a scientist, but somehow I ended up enrolling into a Business Administration and Management Bachelor’s Degree. I lasted one year. The thing is that for most of us, it’s hard to decide a path after high school. After dropping out I was completely lost, wanting to be an architect, but at the same time not. Maybe a psychologist.
My mum encouraged me to become a designer and I gave it a try. I enrolled into a Design college and surprisingly, I loved it. Four years of conceptualising, researching and making ideas visual, changed the way I saw and understand the world.
But something was missing, I needed something more ‘challenging’ and I remembered that a teacher that told us that the role of a graphic designer was changing; his job wasn’t just only about designing posters and books, but he was also designing spaces, exhibitions and objects. And I wanted that, but in a different way.
I wanted to be able to develop something from scratch and then build it. To create experiences in every possible format. To join all my passions together… art, tech, science, fashion and psychology, and whatever area I found interesting that month. I wanted to be able to create a meaningful narrative based on facts to give back an experience. And right before graduating, we were introduced to creative coding, with an amazing teacher that encouraged me to follow that path, so I didn’t want to be just a graphic designer anymore.
I took a Masters degree in Advanced Interaction, where again, I got to think differently. I could finally get to design experiences. And for that you have challenge yourself everyday, because you never get to know enough about a software, or even about life itself.
A Usual Day in Martina’s Life
Martina: It depends on the mood, If I have the day off and no plans going on, I could be binge watching series all day, trying to convince myself that I’m not wasting time at all, but getting inspired by them. Even the worst show can become a good source of knowledge.
If I’m in a productive mood, I could be researching and learning as much I can of a subject, until I realize that I should stop and rest, because it’s already next day’s morning.
The Impact of Social Media
Martina: I’ve realised that if you follow the right people, social media can become a great inspirational source. Not just as a way to get ideas, but also to discover people that work in the field that you are interested, to get motivated to keep working and finding yourself.
In my opinion, a good social media profile (which I don’t have), is a great portfolio that gives you an opportunity to show your work and your personality. It brings you closer to your ‘clients’, even it’s just a virtual relationship, so they get to know your daily life and your point of view, making you more appealing, or not.
The Global Grad Show 2018 Project
Martina: A wearable bodysuit that makes you more empathic, or not. The project, ‘The end of Emotional Privacy’, is still in development and started as part of a master’s submission.
We were required to develop a new sense. I first focused on understanding as much as I could about senses and how they are generated. To sum up, senses are the tool that our body uses to get data from the world to construct our perception. They help us to survive and adapt to the environment. That got me thinking, what if we could develop a sense that made us a better person? What if empathy was a new sense?
There is software that is able to read our emotions through face recognition using our webcam. In a context where we are starting to care about our data privacy online, where corporations know who we are and what we want, what if they could also learn about how we feel to adapt our needs to our current mood? What if there were multiple devices around the city constantly getting data from us? Will our emotional privacy disappear? Poker faces would definitely disappear, even if you are trying hard to cover your emotional state, every emotion that you are feeling warms up, or cools down your body depending on how are you feeling at that moment. We could also take advantage of that. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is hard sometimes, but, what if we could develop a sense that made us understand better other people? And again: what if empathy was a new sense? We could build a better world. An improved society.
This project has been developed as a bodysuit wearable that explores the possibility of being able to read emotions more accurately, using an infrared sensor to simulate thermal vision. The sensor works as a thermal camera that sees in an array of 64 temperature values, that for now, I simplified to 4 values, which individually notifies the exact temperature of the array to each of the 4 heat pads, precisely located on the back of the bodysuit. Like morse code, but with heat.
To get an idea of the experience you get wearing this bodysuit, if I’m feeling anxious and you are wearing it, you would feel like you are getting a heat massage on your back! In that case, would you choose to become a better person and help me smooth my anxiety, or would you use the fact that I am anxious to take advantage?
Martina’s Dubai Design Week 2018
Martina: Basically, to get to know everything that’s going on. It’s amazing how people from around the globe will be gathered together showing their projects, sharing their ideas and points of view. It’s a great opportunity to think about the present and how we are able to build the future.
It’s also the first time that I’ll be visiting Dubai, so I’m excited!
Follow Martina Solés Caldés: @martinasoles