Vanja Garaj Discusses the Use of Technology in Design Industry 9th June 2022 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

In this week’s interview with SBID Awards Interior Design judge, Director of Research at Brunel Design School and Brunel University London, Vanja Garaj discusses the use of technology in design and how it affects every aspect of the industry. He also shares what he is most interested to see in this year’s Awards design submissions!

How would you define the power of good design?

For me, the baseline for good design still is the famous: form follows function”, which absolutely must come hand in hand with human-centredness and preferably extend into the “less is more” aesthetics. However, the real power stems from the big idea or, at least, a spark of design innovation that sets the product apart in terms of use scenario, functionality, materials, technology solutions and/or form factor.

How will your background in design, development and innovation inform your judging process? What key qualities will you be looking for in this year’s designs?

My judging process is informed by the experience of practicing, researching and teaching design over the years. By combining these activities, I keep up to date with the latest developments and trends. As a designer, I am particularly interested in the interplay between design and technology and the design-led technology innovation that can improve the quality of life in its various aspects. This interest guides what I am looking for in the designs submitted to the SBID Awards.

Why is technological innovation essential for the interior design sector when it comes to designing new interior products and solutions?

Technological innovation can greatly facilitate the design process; e.g., the immersive technologies of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are very handy when it comes to conceptualising and visualising new interior design ideas and communicating or co-creating the ideas with clients.

I am also curious to see how the immersive tech-powered Metaverse will develop in the future and to what extent it may become a venue for interior designers to practice their trade. This social 3D digital “real estate” and its promised fully functioning economy may create demand for the design of virtual interiors for the “living” and working spaces within the platform. Some interior design professionals are already getting ready to benefit from this potential opportunity; e.g., see here.

When it comes to the future of our environments, how do you see the role of digital technologies evolving in the coming years?

The environments will become ever smarter, with the advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) permitting us to achieve even better energy efficiency and further improve the ability to personalise interiors for comfort and well-being (e.g., air quality) and visual ambience (e.g., lighting).

There are also advances in biophilia and biomimicry and the application of these concepts and the related technologies in interior design. Both concepts promote sustainability and it would therefore be extremely useful to have them gain more traction within the interior design profession. Having said that, I was really pleased to see Ko Tu Elpo – “a smart air biofilter that improves indoor air quality by combining technology and the power of nature”, win in the Interior Technology category at the SBID Awards 2021 for Product Design.

Finally, what advice can you give to designers entering the SBID Awards?

It is very important to clearly present the novelty and innovative aspects of the submitted work. Why do you think your design stands out in the market?

Questions answered by Dr Vanja Garaj, Director of Research, Brunel Design School and Brunel University London.

Dr Vanja Garaj is Head of Design at Brunel University London, where he also contributes to the Professional Design Studio module within the MSc Integrated Product Design programme.

Dr Garaj’s research is aimed at design, development and evaluation of innovative systems, products and services, with the focus on digital and digital-physical domains and the application of the latest technology.