Medialab Prado


Interactivos?'15: Material Cultures in the Digital Age. Selected projects

8 projects have been selected to develope in the workshop Interactivos?'15: Material Cultures in the Digital Age, that will be carried out from December 2 to 16, 2015. The workshop is complete with a series of conferences and meetings, inside the project Objetos comunes in collaboration with Constant vzw.

Workshop's mentors: César García, Josian Llorente and Wendy Van Wynsberghe. Technical mentor: Roberto Zabala

Call for collaborators. Inscriptions' period until November 30.

Video of the results of the workshop:  

> KOOKMET kicthens v3
> Open guide into open objects
> Implementing Community Garment Production with Valentina
> The Tarot of Maker
> Perspective Space Kit*
> Broadenning the quantified self
> Parasite Outlet*




> KOOKMET kicthens v3

By Yannick Roels


Cultureghem is a non profit organisation situated in Cureghem at Abattoir. Cureghem is a neighbourhood in the municipality of Anderlecht in the Brussels-Capital Region and the Abattoir is the old slaughterhouse of Anderlecht. An arrival point for newcomers in the city hosting more than 170 different nationalities. The site itself, Abattoir (40 000 m2 open space, 10 000 m2 of heritage protected covered market), is used to its full potential during the three market days (friday - sunday, 100 000 visistors/week) but remains largely unused during the rest of the week. This is situated in the most densily populated area of Brussels where there is a lack of space, among other things. The main goal of Cultureghem is making this semi-public space avaiable for the neighbourhood and beyond. Cultureghem is trying to achieve this goal through different projects (an urban playground, food waste reduction, artistic interventions,…) but we’ll focus on one in particular for this call: KOOKMET.

KOOKMET is a specially designed mobile kitchen that pops up every friday during the market. The concept of KOOKMET is to go to the market with a grocery list and buy the products that are needed to prepare a healthy and tasty meal (plastic bags are not welcome because of environmental friendliness reasons). On the mobile kitchen the participants learn to prepare a healthy meal by using cheap, local and seasonal fresh food products in a simple and delicious way. The mobile kitchens are the “image” of the project and serve a double purpose. Firstly, and most obviously, they are the kitchens on which the meal is prepared, and secondly, they are a physical object in space around which people gather. Cooks, hungry people, curious people, passers by,… and thus the kitchens become a catalyst for social interaction between all those different kinds of people.

I built the first mobile kitchen, named Driss, in January 2014 at the fablab of Cultureghem’s neighbour Erasmus hogeschool using a large scale cnc-router. Now there are 12 mobile kitchens (gaz fire, induction cookers, ovens, sink,…) and the project is going strong.

Interactivos?'15: Material Cultures in the Digital Age. Selected projects

Now that the concept is proven it’s time for the next step. Exporting KOOKMET to other places. The idea is to design a third generation kitchen capable of exporting our experiences at Cultureghem to other places. The kitchens we have now are very good at what they do but they are also very specifically designed for the place we work at. A third generation kitchen will be a stand alone kitchen not only capable of preparing delicious food but the start of a new story in a new place. Manuals, storage, tools,…, a personality,… the possibilities are endless. And that’s the story I would like to write with the rest of you in Madrid.

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.


> Open guide into open objects

proposed by Libre Objet Julien Deswaef, Mathieu Gabiot, Martin Léveque

open objects 

We want to collect your experiences with open source product design and condense it into a manual to inspire others to join the movement.

The term “open source” is becoming a trend among product designers. We see websites and initiatives appear here and there with a lot of good intentions but sometimes missing the point and often creating confusion. Design magazines and blogs are always rushing into calling an openly published creation “open source” but rarely talk about the license or propose schematics or design files to download. What is the difference between DIY and open source design? What is open making? I want people to use my objects but not make money with it? How do you make a living with open source design? If I publish my design files on the internet, is it then open source by default? Where can I find open source objects I can download and modifiy? How can I modify a design and then publish it again under my name? How do I know this object I use is open source or not? Why should I learn about open source design? Why is everyone so excited about it?

During the past 3 years of existence of the collective Libre Objet and the many workshops we’ve organized, we have constantly heard these questions and spent a lot of time trying to explain these somehow difficult concepts. There is a lot of info to digest and not really a comprehensive documentation so far that could help someone get in the train of libre product design. With the time available during Interactivos and the diversity of people joining for these two weeks, we plan to make together the “manual to get started making and publishing libre and open source objects”.

Ideally, the manual should cover all the topics and questions that a novice would have. So, to make this book, we will talk about definitions, gather examples, compare approaches, mention creation tools, cover available licenses, point out the common pitfalls, suggest methods of distribution, invent workshop subjects and forking challenges,... The manual will be created in a collective manner, with as many authors as participants, using open source tools such as “Booktype”, “Etherpad” or similar, and will be released under an open source license. A special interest will be also put into making the full process of printing and publishing the book as an open object in itself, or at least get as close as possible to that objective.

We hope that this tool could be a base for teaching and learning about open source product design, a collective memory of what one should know today to get started and join the movement, a reference students, amateurs and professionals would have in their back pocket when they go out to explain what they are passionate about.

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.



> Implementing Community Garment Production with Valentina

proposed by Susan Spencer, Lina Avendaño and David Arnold


The evolution of digital design and production tools has created the opportunity to build products which are highly customizable and allow for local and individual expression. These tools enable the introduction of individual styles and values into consumer products. They also provide the opportunity to rebuild local production communities through utilization of digital marketplaces.

Digital marketplaces funnel customized designs to local maker shops, small manufacturers and user/makers, and support small eco-systems of makers and resource manufacturers.

Valentina is a tool written expressly to support the creation of such a digital marketplace for custom-sized garments. These garments can be further customized through selection of sewist and material. The small-batch nature of customized garments supports local small-batch textile production and small-scale manufacturing facilities. The marketplace can provide information about textiles and manufacturers so that the users can select their product to reflect their artistic expression and ethical values.

The Valentina project at Interactivos?15 will utilize a Valentina pattern, purchase a locally-sourced textile, and contract a local textile sewist/manufacturer. The process to be documented is taking measurements of the client, selecting textiles and manufacturer, placing the order, cutting & sewing the order, and filming the ‘client’ wearing the garment. Also taking video/photos of the participants in the Valentina MLP project.

The project will be organized around two sub-projects/teams:

Project #1.) Web development: Susan Spencer, David Arnold + interested collaborators
Project #2.) Garment manufacturing and documentation: Susan Spencer, Lina Avandaño + interested collaborators

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.


> The Tarot of Maker

proposed by Giovanni Marco Zaccaria


Why we realize objects? We went from an identity defined by “I am what I produce” to “I am what I consume” to arrive to “I am what I prosume”. What happens if we break definitively with this paradigm to come to “I am what I take care of? “Without going to the thought of Fukuoka for whom behind every act of creation or crafts lies an act of destruction, is it possible an oil and conflict-minerals free digital fabrication? What is its ecological footprint? What if we borrow from the wisdom of the plants a biomimetic model? What would be the seeds of an object? And what are its fruits?

Is it possible to imagine a digital fabrication as a tool in the fight against climate change? How much energy and resources can be saved from its continued spread? Which cultural models should accompany that? How to disseminate them? Is it actually recycled what is prototyped and self-produced? What is its “unplanned” obsolescence? How long last a prototype? What guidelines can promote a continuous upgrade of an object instead of its abandonment? What is its symbolic value? What is the relationship between objects and tools? Is it possible to definitely break the pact between innovation and consumerism? Which and how many items we should produce? How to balance their access and distribution? Which needs are they covering? Do we really need objects to maintain social relationships? Or are they just fetishes that hide our fears and doubts of being unaccepted?

On what ethics, this new mode of production is based? How is it different from mass production? Can it really offer solutions to the humankind’s evolution and growth? Or is it just a nice curtain behind which the deepest eternal problems hide? Which is its social and ecological resilience? Does it protect or destroy cultural biodiversity and local artisanal practices? In front of the massive and global sharing of new knowledge and techniques, how to preserve the ones that are seculars and the result of adaptation to the place of origin?

How accessible is the maker’s culture? In ancient times to transmit and spread cultural models and good practices, we were using the mythological tale. Can the figure of maker be considered as a descendant of the archetypal figure of the creator? In Jungian psychology the gesture of creation is closely linked to the values of authenticity, identity and responsibility. A gesture to get closer to our entelechies instead of feeding our egos. Which is the path of the Maker?

The proposal then of an open manifesto that places and tries to answer these questions, is sublimated into an artifact: an accessible game by which we can operate and analyze our practices as experimenters and prototypers; a materialization in a symbolic language capable of communication with our most intimate and profound creativity; a series of lenses, which one at a time, able to emphasize individual aspects of an idea or project that we intend to achieve. How should a Tarot of the Maker look like?

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.


> Perspective Space Kit

proposed by Philo van Kemenade

*For reasons beyond the Organization's control this project won't be developed within the workshop.


Interactivos?'15: Material Cultures in the Digital Age. Selected projects


When we design spaces we are often faced with flat digital tools. These ‘pictures behind glass’ communicate our designed three-dimensional space virtually, but don’t allow shaping objects intuitively in physical space nor offer an experience of what it’s like to be there. This project aims to provide a toolkit for spatial design that does both.

First, the project explores tangible interfaces by letting us use our hands to shape and move physical scale models to create a miniature of the space we are designing. By making the task of spatial modelling and configuration tangible, it can become an intuitive process that is more like an approachable conversation than the task of a few experts. Building blocks in the design kit may originate from various domains like interior design, festival architecture or urban planning. Each of these comes with a set of specific objects such as furniture, stages or buildings that, together with more abstract and universal components, form the toolkit’s vocabulary. Users model a 3D scene by assembling these different components into a meaningful whole.

Second, the toolkit uses digital representations of the designed space to give the designers new perspectives on the imagined environment. For each of the physical objects a 3D model exists digitally and through sensing of the scaled down physical environment a virtual model of the designed space is created. This virtual model can serve multiple purposes such as simulation, rendering and augmentation of the modelled space. Different use cases can be facilitated through an open plugin architecture to load for example weather simulation, crowd modelling, data visualisation or viewing the space in first person through a VR viewer.

At its core the project has a toolkit consisting of physical objects, digital fabrication methods and algorithmic & social processes to tie the functionality together.

Open questions I would like to explore with collaborators in the workshop:

  • What are accessible forms of acquiring 3D models of objects one wishes to design with, so that others can build their own relevant kit?
  • What can a Domain Specific Modelling Language for physical spatial design look like? How can this design space be usefully constrained?
  • What determines a meaningful set of building blocks for a toolkit like this?
  • How can the 3 basic types of spatial transformation (moving, rotating, scaling) be translated to a tangible system that can be shaped by our hands?
  • What are robust ways of sensing aspects of individual physical components to construct a virtual model of the physical scale model?
  • How can a plugin architecture developed on open standards facilitate different use cases?
  • Which use case ‘perspectives’ are interesting to explore within/on top of a digital spatial model? What can be simulated, rendered, displayed, augmented? Which meaningful use cases can be imagined for this?

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.


> Broadenning the quantified self

proposed by Natacha Roussel


Self Tracking props are now part of our daily apparatus overseeing our most intimate relation with walking, heart beat and more, in order to trigger behavioural changes by splitting the way we perceive our effort, our body and its environment as bits of information uploaded to a server.

This movement takes an unexpected amplitude as personal measuring props are becoming successful commercial endeavours. The success is equally visible by the large number of innovative mobile phone applications that also propose to help people measure and visualize many aspects of their physical behaviours.

It seems that the data sampled by accelerometers from self tracking props, are quite basic and represent only a very specific view of fitness and health, lacking very much any information about context or environment, and most commercial and DIY propositions do not link to a variety of sensing devices, nor to very old practices of self quantification, such as for example women’s periodic calendar.

During a series of workshops that were held in different ‘women and technology’ groups, including samedies in Brussels, we got into the process of parsing selftracking data and make new visuals for it ( Furthermore during Relearn summerschool in Brussels we realized it was probably a good idea to work on the data itself, what could be a more fluid, more context-aware manner of capturing this information?

In the context of an ongoing questioning of this approach to healthcare, some tools might bring a new approach. The citizen science projects have developed some processes that could greatly enhance the data collection experiment towards a more fluid and configurable experience.

During Interactivos we would like to find ways to allow people to appropriate many different diagnosis tools, and to run them on the long term, sometimes feeding research databases. Some specific tools seems very promising such as spectral analysis DIY lenses, that can be made at home and adapt to your smartphone/webcam: This could allow us to complement step measures with a different information that would be representative of our environment and for example help us portray the air that surrounds us the type of water that we deal generally investigate the precious bodily fluids (sic) in order to give more space to our behavioral measures.

The process would include the fabrication of lenses as presented on the public lab web site ( furthermore we would intergrate their open source application to calibrate it, and using their already existing api we would feed the data in a personnal calendar and link it that could also synchronize other contextual information such as moon cycles or fed data, such as periodic calendar.

The process will open self quantification practices to different horizons that can also nurture our sense of health and well being.

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.


> Parasite Outlet

proposed by Yoana Buzova and Matthias Hurtl

*For reasons beyond the Organization's control this project won't be developed within the workshop.


One of the most common of objects are mobile phones. Getting smarter hungrier for energy, they tend to quickly ‘die’ on us. Left with no power there is no use of them.

The electricity outlet is another even more common object in daily life. Yet, once in public space, it seems to not be so easy to use one.

Current situations show how technology can help and guide us in an extreme situation. Activists and other concerned people have been creating free internet access in different public space contexts. But to use the internet we need a working device.

Harvesting energy has been around for centuries. It’s a common theme in DIY projects, but rarely expanding to a critical engagement, Do It With Others or going beyond lighting up an led.

How can an object, as simple and banal as the electricity outlet be claimed and made adaptable to situations different to what and where it is intended to be?

We want to work on a parasite outlet, that feeds on public space energy and transforms it into electricity. A usb, sticking out in pubic space that gives you free energy. Whether to power your phone or an art installation, your choice.

Connected with this project through the Community Medialab-Prado.


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