By the end of 2004, prior to my graduate year as an industrial design student at Bezalel (Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem), I began to have doubts on my future occupation.
The industrial world has been facing in the past years much justified criticism regarding its responsibility over pollution, labor rights and over production as a result of implementing out-sourced approaches.
As part of the competition, Companies and manufactures are focusing on their survival by enhancing these methods and by trying to block competitors as their first and almost only objective.
The society's well-being interests almost never considered as a first priority.
These considerations obligate every organization and individual that wants to exist in the industrial / capital world.
I realized that under these rules it would be hard for me to find my place as a productive industrial designer
For my final project I decided to research alternative creative processes and to try to implement them in a product design process.
During that year I started to study among others the open source movement as an obvious inspiration.
However in the virtual world of software production, every individual programmer can be an autonomous production unit (provided with a web connection and a computer) where as in the physical world materials, energy, production lines, storage and marketing takes much more time, money and risks to become a reality.
The OS movement was still a relevant inspiration with the concept that different softwares were developed and produced with the same basic code.
I liked the idea that this approach enabled individuals to develop solutions to their own needs by themselves and in the same time with the same tools and component can provide solutions to a much broader interest in a decentralized innovation model.
With all the respect to custom guitars, I think that this brilliant Spinal Tap short clip describes best the opposite concept - centralized innovation with the production of limited expensive versions, that are one louder at a time.
Every release of a new model is coordinated by commercial interests and mostly made to the specification of a few privileged ones. I recognize the sentimental value of a guitar collection but for most products the result is over production and over consumption that leads to pollution and waste.
I decided to try to design an open modular hardware platform close as possible to the concept of decentralized innovation.
The components would not be a specific instrument without being assembled together by the users.
From a designer point of view this challenge meant that every component (different function) should have similar visual aspects and similar attachment solution even though they are different in size, material, weight and in their function.
Overall this platform should also be open to accept outside components that may be attached easily to the basic platform and still look cool. This kind of project meant at first to be relevant mostly to creative individuals that are much less passive than most of us, those who are looking to create and experiment by their own unique voice.
Music was a good place to find such individuals.
By the end of that year I presented a non working prototype that did not stand by those standards.
Although the concept was still very blurred I would like to acknowledge Prof. Shmuel Kaplan (my project guidance) as one of the few that recognized that the concept might become relevant in the future.
I graduated with a lot of unfinished ideas that I still wanted to explore.
This concept presented a new relationship between the maker and the user, much more personal, with strong ecological benefits that even held an economical potential. Still, in order for this to become realized in the industrial / capital world, other disciplines should be configured as well. In the following years aside my day job as a designer and a lecturer I continued to develop the project, meeting with investors, musicians, composers, manufacturers, patent attorneys and all different kind programmers. Gradually similar to mashup culture, new features were discovered while attaching sound effects on the instruments as add-ons and playing with the Zoybar platform as an ongoing playable prototype. Along all those years it's been an amazing experience to see the theory comes to life. Watching the musician's excitement, amazed that their ideas were implemented after one session on the Zoybar platform was the most rewarding motivation to bring this project to life.
On the next posts I would try to elaborate more on different aspect of the project.