Emma Tucker, August 8, 2013
“Everything around us is becoming so digital and smooth, our hands and fingers are longing for touch, after all, the need to explore the tactile world is very human”
Arnhem-based design studio Hands have blended together analogue and digital methods, using wireframes in combination with morse code to create new merchandise designs for record label Electric Deluxe.
“We have a diverse background in both digital and analogue methods of design and this has greatly shaped our view on design,” say Studio hands, speaking of their creative philosophy, “we did not name ourselves Studio Hands for nothing: we really love working with our hands and we use some analogue techniques in many, if not all, of our digital projects as a human touch that we think distinguishes our work from other design studios.”
This love of analogue processes was foremost in mind when the studio were tasked with designing new merchandise for record label Electric Deluxe. Calling it ‘audio-transmitted merchandise’, the studio have managed to seamlessly combine digital and analogue processes to create something that, whilst relying on a digital source, gives equal weight to its analogue output.
Individual sender and receiver applications – equipped with a speaker and receiver respectively – were installed on two computers, and using these the studio were able to send 3D wireframe images from one to the other.
By translating the wireframe into vectors and points, the data was recreated as basic morse code and sent through to the receiver. This was then translated back into a 3D image – a reiteration of the original – and returned to the analogue world through hand-screenprinting.
Part of the charm of the final merchandise is the intentional inclusion of glitches. “This is the interesting part,” explains Hilmer Thijs, from the studio “we noticed that these ‘errors’ occurred for different reasons; for instance the distance between the spaker and microphone seemed very important, even though the volume of the sound was very loud. The image of the head took about eight hours to transmit, so there were a lot of opportunities to disrupt the process. In the end these distortions were very welcome, we really like the raw unpredicted look of the end-result.”
The most striking aspect of the studio’s work is the way the duo have managed to seamlessly blend digital and analogue together. “Everything around us is becoming so digital and smooth, our hands and fingers are longing for touch, after all, the need to explore the tactile world is very human,” Thijs explains, of the studio’s interest in preserving analogue processes, “we aren’t particularly a philosophical studio, but we do sometimes use this phrase to illustrate why it’s all so important to not just go digital with everything. We really like the smell of fresh prints, we highly value nice paper, and so on. Also we firmly believe the best stuff is still hand-crafted.”
For the studio, this move towards combining divergent processes is a natural step. “Lidewij Edelkoort recently wrote about how, with all this new technology at our fingertips, opposite ideas are fusing, “ Thisj explains, “things such as old and new, craft and industry, individual and group and analogue and digital. In every design discipline new formations are emerging, creating endless new possibilities. We find this very exciting.”