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Design Fiction: Second Skin


A speculative scenario that places visitors in the year 2050, and examines the future of art, technology and beauty. In the near future, this piece foresees a world in which environmental and urban pollution, as well as global warming, have started to take a toll on the human body. Beauty brands are the new cartels, and with the support of governments, their aim is to protect citizens by providing them with disposable skin that acts as a shield against the harsh conditions of the environment. Beauty is redefined as the natural human body, and layers are added to protect that, rather than to change its natural aesthetic. 
We aimed to create an experience that poses a question about the level of awareness and responibility towards the current environmental conditions, and how they might affect every aspect of our lives as they continue to worsen in the future. The experience highlights the tension between a decaying environment (in which our film is set) and a clean, luxurious one. The space is set in a slick, white, organically shaped capsule that looks as if it had landed in YiHaus, from another time. The visitors are intrigued as they notice a white mist seeping out from underneath the entrance. The doors slide open, and upon entering the space, visitors are placed in the centre of the toxic world of the future. Stretches of what looks like skin, toxic smoke and screens showing the threat of this future environment, weave a tapestry of decay behind glass screens. The visitors peer into this world, and begin to understand the repercussions of the impending threat that the environment is facing, and the effects it could, in turn, have on their bodies. A soundscape that drones in the background sets the tone, and to enhance this experience, even the quality of the air is slightly compromised, feeling a little warmer and more humid than usual. After taking in this immersive part of the space, they are guided by that same white mist that was their cue at the entrance, into the second space, in which they experience a sense of relief as the air starts to cool, and the humidity subsides. They enter through the sliding door into a futuristic world of luxury; a boutique skin store, where they are greeted by a beauty assistant, and can view a range of novelty second skins in a window display. They can choose from limited edition, natural, and novelty designs, and simulate wearing them through the virtual mirrors that are available at either side of the space. The experience ends with the assistant handing them a business card with a web address through which they can track the availability of the product. The experience aims to present them with a problem, then offer a heavily connotative solution to it in a branded, high-end manner. It also creates this anticipation for being able to purchase the product, which they cannot, thus creating a contrast to the shopping experience they would then proceed towards in YiHaus.
Collaborators: Symeon Banos, Hannah Brooks, Annya Suhardi.

Project Tags

  • Speculative Design
  • Design fiction
  • Narrative Film
  • narrative space
  • Storyboarding
  • future materials
  • Narrative

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