Design Lab at Sydney Design 08

27 August 2008

The Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning's participation in the Sydney Design 08 Festival has been hailed as a great success. In its 12th year, this is the first time the Faculty has hosted an event for this internationally renowned festival. Dr Rob Saunders and Dr onacloV, members of the Faculty's Design Lab, hosted a daylong program focussed on electronic media and interaction design.

Even before the event, there was much anticipation about the program as Dr Saunders points out, "We were overbooked by twice the amount we could take in the lab so it was really popular. It was already booked up before the printed brochures came out just from Internet interest alone."

On the day, participants worked with a large-scale media display called Smartslab and sophisticated remote controls, originally designed for use with the Nintendo Wii game console. Once participants were over the shock of doing something that looked "a little like computer programming" they realised that they were not only able to use the tools effectively but they could be creative in new ways. Participants created animations that would react to gestures made with the Wii Remotes. When displayed on the large Smartslab display these animations created interactive and engaging environments.

As Dr Saunders elaborated "First of all, the participants got a bit of a thrill out of being able to use a tangible device to control virtual environments on the computer screen but when you put interactive animations on big screens like the Smartslab... the difference in quality, scale and brightness compared to desktop displays, takes the engagement to another level."

The workshop coincided with the announcement of the new Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts (IDEA) program, which will commence in 2009. Dr onacloV gave a brief introduction to this unique program and, combined with the technical lab, the workshop gave a tantalising glimpse of the directions that students will explore in this new graduate degree.

"The IDEA program is based around a set of studios that explore different forms of interaction along a path through our electronic worlds: inside the environments we inhabit; with the things that we carry; at the surfaces that we engage with; and in the virtual world's behind them." Dr Saunders continued, "For us in the Design Lab, the great thing about these studios is that they allow us to work with cutting edge technology, explore their creative potential and bring those experiences into class room; providing our students compelling learning experiences."

For more information on the Interaction Design and Electronic Arts program please see