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Sigi Moeslinger

Product Design '91

Sigi Moeslinger is a partner of Antenna Design, which she co-founded with Masamichi Udagawa. Antenna's design projects range from public and commercial to experimental and artistic, typically spanning object, interface and environment.

Among Antenna's best-known projects are the design of New York City subway cars and ticket vending machines, JetBlue check-in kiosks and Bloomberg displays and interactive environments, such as Power Flower, an installation in Bloomingdale's windows and activated by passersby.

Antenna's user-centered design approach helps understand human behavior, which is particularly important when designing the unfamiliar, elicited by new technology. Antenna's work has won numerous awards, including recognition from Business Week/IDSA, I.D., Fast Company and Wired magazines.

In 2006, Moeslinger and Udagawa received the United States Artists Target Fellowship in the Architecture and Design category. In 2008, Antenna won the National Design Award in Product Design from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Before forming Antenna, Moeslinger was an Interval Research Fellow at NYU, where she designed and built digitally enhanced objects. Prior to that, she was at IDEO in San Francisco, working on corporate product design languages, consumer products and equipment, as well as future scenarios for new technology products.

A 1991 graduate of Art Center, she also earned a master's degree in interactive telecommunications from New York University. She is currently a visiting faculty and critic at Yale University School of Art in the Graduate Graphic Design Department. This interview with Moeslinger was conducted in 2004.

Art Center: Most industrial designers are not considered artists, yet you seem to transcend traditional definitions. Can you describe your area of expertise?
Sigi Moeslinger:
We really don't consider ourselves artists, even though our work may seem to fall into that broad category sometimes. Traditionally, the major difference between an art project and a design project is that art projects don't have any so-called practical purpose.

Even though there may be no practical reason for our exploratory projects to exist, we still take a strict design approachnot a fine art approachto our work.

For example, artists usually work in a studio on their own projects. But we start a project only when someone invites us into his or her venue. Once we have determined and analyzed the venue, we design something specifically for it. It's very much like doing a project for a client in terms of coming up with ideas, organizing the whole production process, and then putting it all together.

We design our installations knowing why people come into a space, and what type of mindset they bring.

AC: What is the mission of Antenna Design?
We are interested in new technology and how it transforms the way people work and live. We are interested in making and adapting technology that is accessible and exciting. We don't see technology merely as a means of increasing efficiency.

Traditionally this is how technology has been promoted, as a tool for production with the mantra of making things faster, more efficiently and cheaper. Our goal is to explore the next level of concept and application, where technology is transforming culture, both artistically and socially.

AC: Is the Web a cogent example of that type of technology?
I have no idea how I could have done anything in the past six years without the Internet. My work requires so much specialized information that, thanks to the Web, is now easily accessible. Technology has transformed how we work, and consequently, how we live. To do a certain type of work, we don't necessarily need to form or join an organization model of a corporation. That allows us to organize our time differently.

This is part of what I mean when I say technology is transforming cultureall the traditional social structures are being reshuffled. Many people have changed their lives around so they can work from home, because they can spend time with their kids or because it provides a more useful environment for what they do.

AC: How will designers be using technology a decade from now?
I think that the control a designer has over a project will extend well beyond past levels. Usually for design projects, we hand off electronic files of our design specifications, and it pretty much ends there. Down the road, there will be more possibilities for designers to become producers. For example, today 3D printers are used primarily to create models.

But one day soon, developments in manufacturing technology might enable us to use them in our studios to create product. I find that very exciting.

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