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Slow Tech

Designer Hugo Eccles unveils four smart ways to ensure social downtime in a London Design Week group show

by Karen Day in Design on 20 September 2011

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While many designers are working hard to develop new applications that would foster more streamlined social networking, the group behind the London exhibit Slow Tech are intelligently conceptualizing how to take time off. Created by Wallpaper Magazine editor Henrietta Thompson and Protein, the group show "encourages people to take time off from their little shiny screens," explains participant Hugo Eccles.

Working with designer Afshin Mehin, Eccles' eponymous design office created four concepts that "jam the communication channels." Starting with a friendly egg timer-styled device, Eccles explains the Social Timer is "the kind of thing your mum would use." Intentionally using iconic forms throughout the project to help illustrate the point, Eccles and Mehin envisioned the Social Timer as a tabletop object that would disable a particular type of communication for a shorter amount of time, such as a family dinner. The timers also have Facebook and Twitter symbols on the top like salt and pepper shakers, as a subtle reminder of their purpose.

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Functioning as an activist, the Social Bomb forces everyone to take a break by covertly cutting off all forms of technology. The bomb works best in places like the cinema, a wedding or other group setting where the social addict refuses to be polite by shutting off their device.

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According to Eccles, the "most representative" concept the duo developed is the wall-mounted Social Thermostat. The variable device could be used in different rooms in the house, allowing the living room to be more socially warm while the bedroom stays socially cold. LED lights along the top of the unit display the room's social temperature.

The Social Sentinel is undoubtedly a favorite among bosses. The device's intensity is pre-set before it is mounted on a ceiling, keeping employees from tampering with it. A "watchful eye" lets people know when it is active, cutting them off from Twitter or Facebook during office hours.

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The four Hugoeccles®designoffice concepts are on view along with the products from nine other designers, including Héctor Serrano, Samuel Wilkinson and Nic Roope, during London Design Week. Check them out at the Kiwi & Pom-designed Protein pop-up space 18 Hewett Street.

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