/eti-kit: design futures.

“ETI-KIT” was designed to provide solutions for maintaining privacy in public spaces, in the most polite way possible.  It is a commercial brief for a design to augment the etiquette of London commuting, and speculates how we might create social distinction amongst uniformity in the future of transport.

London College of Fashion. Speculative Design. 2014.

Two wearable objects were designed to speculate a fictional future where people wear temporary items purchased in a public transport system vending machine for commute entertainment. These objects enable social communication in a private way, and are designed as coping mechanisms for people to deal with the tension between their public and private bodies in transient, overcrowded urban spaces.

Both items — one a pair of music headphones, the other a scarf — are culturally recognized and designated as identifiers of someone “shutting out” when worn, making strong statements of private space.

Meanwhile, these items are embedded with an opposing function — commercial screen display — that allows the user to publicly communicate their private identities by personally curating what is presented on these alienating objects. These wearables symbolize how we respond in relation to our personal-public spaces, and give the user room for imagination and “sharing” of things we like. The wearables allow for the transmission of information to those around us, including online friends, recurring fellow commuters, and strangers looking to “follow” you. Information dissemination becomes a part of fashion identity construction. Thus, the user regains control over their personal identity display. This new mode of “communication-sharing” through objects also allows for a third function, which is subliminal content advertising in, quite literally, the form of packaging material.

PLASTIC, the universal packaging material, has a negative reputation in our society for representing several psychological qualities we feel “unwell” about. These include, but are not limited to: commercialism and capitalism, artificiality, waste, simulation, unexceptional, credit cards.

However, the positive connotations associated with plastic include: changeable, protective, quick, smooth, universal, commonplace. Visually, plastic is clear and unobtrusive.

If plastic inherited an additional function, it could serve a middleground between what we love and hate about the material, and play a role that adds to the well-being of our everyday lives. With increased innovation in screen technology development, graphene batteries, and scientists looking at glass and lenses for digital display, a common material such as plastic could soon be integrated into our telecommunication devices, and therefore, our identities. We become walking, branded plastic packages ourselves.

In this future scenario, plastic technology has the capacity to contain “memory”, becoming activated once assembled — joints are connected and the microchip is slotted in — thereby sending individual signals to its components so it may function as a whole.

What happens to the afterlife of our packaged products — particularly, plastic? To counter the problems of material obsolescence and plastic waste, future society will create innovative processes and systems for this plastic to be recycled, or reused in its current form. The modular joint system means eti-kit can be reassembled into other daily plastic items that have matching slot tabs. This concept further plays on the idea that our favorite products, ideas, and identity communicators have a recyclable life: they can be reused, universally reinterpreted, and never discarded.

MUSIK headphones are featured in “Cultures of Resilience – Fashion Weathers”. View it here: http://www.culturesofresilience.org/wordpress/?p=503