This Happened returned with their eighth London event as part of London Digital Week last month.

Shajay Bhooshan – Computer Generated Architecture

Shajay Bhooshan is an architectural researcher working at Zaha Hadid Architects and a course tutor at the AA School of Architecture.

Shajay talked about his research into alternative approaches to architectural design, namely his use of unconventional software and modelling techniques for some of his work at Zaha Hadid.

He spoke about using software traditionally used for developing videos games and designing motion graphics, showing us some of his experiments with Maya.

He explored the effects of using CGI over traditional methods, writing algorithmic and generative visualisations to create new original designs or influence his existing ‘traditional’ ideas.

Shajay showed us a lot of illustrations and motion captures from his research and project work, all of which can be found on his blog.

Shajay Bhooshan – Computer Generated Architecture video and slides.

Dotmancando – CoinFlipper

Dotmancando is Nitipak Samsen, an interaction designer and recent Royal College of Art graduate, who demonstrated his exhibition piece; the CoinFlipper.

His ideas revolved around the psychological aspect of control and his belief that contrary to our outward appearance, we don’t always want decisions left up to fate or randomness, such as that found in the event of a coin-toss.

Dot claims that we most likely always form a preference as to the outcome before flipping a coin and probably really only flip a coin anyway to feel less guilty about a choice, or to affirm that such an outcome is the right decision.

So he created a mechanism to take that decision out of the hands of fate and to perform a predictable coin toss by way of a impartial mechanical device, in turn, forcing ‘the flipper’ to reveal their true intention.

Dot was very entertaining in showcasing his many prototypes and the recordings of the experiments he carried out. We saw various incarnations constructed with wood, solenoid and Meccano and DIY-style gears attached to rulers until he ultimately achieved his final design.

His has all his work on his blog too, along with most of those prototypes), which can all be seen in this highlights video, on Vimeo:

Dotmancando – CoinFlipper video and slides.

Alexander Grünsteidl – Digital Wellbeing Labs

Alexander Grünsteidl is an ex-product designer who founded Digital Wellbeing Labs, a project set up to pilot a new kind of retail environment for digital lifestyle products.

Born out of distaste and ‘recognition of failure’ of the traditional mindset of consumer retail in selling electronic products, Digital Wellbeing Labs attempts to address the need for innovative consumer experiences in converging products with digital services and new media.

Alexander saw that his electronic products no longer sold successfully in ‘traditional’ shops, suggesting that the conventional retail model is a leftover process of the industrial age, a process that works for big brands but not for smaller.

He claims that now in our ‘society of information’ a different distribution model is required, that small brands don’t need innovation in their products – what’s needed is innovation in shopping.

His showroom attempted to challenge both the traditional and Internet retail economies, specifically the current trend of ‘the last click’ – and pointed out Dixon’s recent advertising campaign which recognises that.

His showrooms are intended to be places for companies to connect with customers and to demonstrate their products, not places to perform actual transactions, but social spaces to engage.

Alexander has written an interesting article, titled ‘Goodbye high-street?’, which explores the thinking behind Digital Wellbeing Labs.

Alexander Grünsteidl – Digital Wellbeing Labs video and slides.

Jenhui Liao – The Self-Portrait Machine

Jenhui Liao, another RCA graduate, showed us his exhibition piece; the Self-Portrait Machine.

Jenhui works on the connections of humankind and machine, exploring the relationship and cooperation between humans and machines in the manufacturing process and the apparent dependency and inseparability that the two share.

He created a machine that takes a snapshot of the ‘user’, a person whose hands are immovably strapped the machine, holding marker pens, and moved around a canvas by a set of motors and devices in order to create their portrait in a ‘cooperative’ process.

Jenhui was intrigued by the cooperative roles of humans in manufacturing, working around (and even inside) machines.

He claims that similarly human identity is not independent of the machine-like workings of our society. That consumer buying and what we consider to be individual characteristics of our personalities are determined by mechanics outside of our control, that we are extensions of that machine.

He went on to consider the notion of a portrait, a single representation of a person, a traditionally selected and contrived choice.

His conception subverts that idea, partially removing choice by enslaving the human locked into his machine (which he named Geppetto) and forcing the human to recreate (and experience) the machine’s point of view.

Whilst their influence is limited, the participant can affect the outcome of portrait in choosing to cooperate with the machine (or not) by allowing or constricting their movements.

Jenhui Liao – The Self-Portrait Machine video and slides.

Sometimes it might seem like it was planned.