Living in a city brings with it the joys and sorrows of experience, with each place having its own identity it's a struggle between the different factors of interaction that allow you to connect with a city or feel misplaced. But what is the essence of place? How can you define that feeling of being in a particular environment? And if you can, is it possible to confine it? What would you do with that confinement? Is it possible to share these sensations?
This project looked into how we interact with our cities, not in the physical but rather the metaphysical way. Tasked with understanding the nature of a city such as Lancaster, a nature that’s teetering on the edges of rural, industrial and commercial this project allowed us to question what it meant to live in Lancaster at a more deeper level.
The sensation of being in a city was in some way felt most strongly through the base senses. These fundamental sensations let you hear sounds you can fall in love with or taste food you could justify to dislike. It was this attraction between your senses and the points of references available through a city that made you connect to your surroundings we believed.
Our group consisted of members from different cultural backgrounds bringing their own experiences with sounds, smells and sights to the table all relating to their own understanding of what a city's experience is like. But what made Lancaster the place it is?
Being students of Design we tackled this as a Service Design job, planning to design an artefact around the idea of experiencing Lancaster. This artefact would essentially be infused with the essence of place and would echo what we felt as we lived in Lancaster. Travelling around the city and its nearby areas it was evident this would need a much gentler touch to unearth its potential than say designing a website or any other product. Our group finally decided to incorporate elements of theatre into the mix to better express ourselves. The following is from a koyaanisqatsi-esque video installation that was accompanied by a dramatic reading of our travel log.
After alot of prototyping and speculative design research, the final product was an approach at combining the five senses (sound, sight, smell, taste and touch) together into one artefact that housed different sensation relating to Lancaster. Each sense a box that could be held in the hand and experienced. Each set of sensations could be customised to have a unique nature bespoken to either the gift giver or the gift reciever as a means of sharing and transfering experiences.