Felix Hardmood Beck

Designer, Dad, Technologist, Researcher and Educator

Twitter @hardmood

2016/09 – 2021/05

Lab for Narrative Technologies & Spatial Installations (NTSI-Lab)

Felix's Lab for Narrative Technologies and Spatial Installations at NYU Abu Dhabi since 2015. 

The Lab for Narrative Technologies and Spatial Installations (NTSI Lab) is a Design Research Lab with a focus on R&D projects. It was founded in 2016 and ran by Felix until 2020. With its homebase at NYU Abu Dhabi, the lab members are international and interdisciplinary faculty members from different universities around the globe. After the Corona era, Prof. Zlatan Filipovic (American University of Sharjah, College of Architecture and Design (CAAD)) took over and became Director of the NTSI Lab in February 2023. 

Examples for Beck's contribution to collaborative creative work with the NTSI-Lab:

  • Competition Entry for UAE National Pavilion for Architecture Biennale, Venice 2018
  • Involvement in concept development for Pavilion of Humanity (EXPO 2020, Dubai)
  • Project involvement and collaboration with Louvre Abu Dhabi for Interactive Installations (with TCA, 2017–2018)
  • Concept development for Traditional Weaponry Museum in Jazirat Al Hamra (Ministry of Infrastructure
    Development, 2016–2020)

Within NYUAD's Center for Interacting Urban Networks (CITIES) and in collaboration with the Dhakira Lab for Heritage Research the focus is on R&D projects in the realm of Experimental Sustainable Designs, Future Technologies, and Social Compositions & Communal Infrastructures.

Researchers at the NTSI Lab envision systems and spaces, and create and deploy innovative objects through design and engineering tools. While in Applied Research one observes the status quo, Design Research puts the focus on what ought to be [1]. Whereas most engineering research labs are specialised in the use of abstract mathematical models, NTSI’s goal is to generate representative scenarios and pioneer use-cases in form of conceptual presentations, case-studies, or technological prototypes for: 

1. Products, Applications and Services that do not yet exist.

The primary research focused on technology semantics. The nucleus is not only on technology itself, but on the integration of technology within society [2]: We analyse the digital society and translate trends into new and interesting kinds of medial devices and technological artefacts.

The secondary research focused on the creation of artefacts on high user experiences (UX), intuitive user interfaces (UI) and Embodied Human Computer Interaction (eHCI) often in the context of Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Materials or Smart Workspaces.

2. Site-specific installations for architectural spaces.

In a first step the team analyses the basic elements of architectural spaces to understand its unique characteristics. We take into consideration implied facts like location, structure, materiality, layout and geometry, transition, hierarchy, light conditions etc., but also soft facts like its actual and future use, its aura, and its potential to host installations. We research the relationship of how architecture can be the frame for installations and how a space will potentially contribute to shape the form and format of an installation.

In a second step we focus on the development and integration of content relating technologies. We explore the specific quality of a dedicated technology in combination with physical properties of objects and materials to create not only a site- but also a content specific installation.
We are interested in exploring the correlation of a strong narrative character to be compiled with a highly technological character to create
a performative presence in space, and as its consequence: to create a unique identification of place.

The overall intention is to improve processes, services and special systems being designed and to create prototypes to gain knowledge about and to develop new technologies. Our main question is: How may algorithmic, electronic and mechatronic applications support scenario development and anticipation?

Research through design. Research as design. [3] In our daily work we make use of an iterative design process that follows repetitively the steps of research, analysis, proposal, and prototype. An experimental practise that results into innovative solutions, its reflection and contextualization (research through design): Looking, Learning, Asking, Making, Testing, Evaluating, Communicating. We use a broad range of design methods (research as design): Sketching, Mind mapping,  Matrix evaluation, Perceptual mapping, Product autopsy, Trend spotting, Future forecasting, Cultural probes, Cultural comparisons, etc. As well as practices like: Scenario testing, Product usability, Material testing, Mock ups, Quick-and-dirty prototypes, Experience prototyping, Rapid prototyping, etc.

Our research is reflective, sustainable, critical, communicable to others, ethical. Results are presented at national and international technology meetings, design festivals and conferences in the fields of Innovation, Design, or Media-Art. If adequate projects are realized with partners from the cultural sector, or from the industry. Prototypes can be transferred into further product development and into NYUAD’s Entrepreneurial Lifecycle. Results by that optimise the fields of research and development to advance the UAE and Abu Dhabi as a center of ideas and human talent.

Research groups at NTSI-Lab

© Copyrights by Felix Hardmood Beck, 2002–2023. All rights reserved. 

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