Nonobject was founded in 2006 by former IDEO and Frog design leader Branko Lukic, along with Suncica Lukic and Steve Takayama; with the goal of, in their words "conceiving and realizing design experiences at a fundamentally new level." They do this through grounding their multi disciplinary practice in a unique self developed approach, which they have termed "the philosophy of the Nonobject."
The idea of the Nonobject is based around a focus on the "mysterious and largely unexplored space in between" people and objects, rejecting more traditional 'human-centered design,' which is informed by the needs of 'users', or the 'object-centered' approach, which begins with the form and function of a product.
The Nonobject is set against the 'objective' world of facts, data, and actuality in design and instead embraces "perception, experience, and possibility".
Lukic explains; "In the 20th century, we were focused mostly on the practical, utilitarian side of design, and later we were driven by technological advancements, marketing and business plans. In the 21st century, instead of design just fulfilling the basic needs, doing certain things or resolving particular problems, people will seek deeper, greater and longer lasting product experiences"
To demonstrate these ideas further, Branko Lukic and design thinker Barry Katz have co authored a new book on the subject, recently published by MIT press. Through a series of essays and explorations, Lukic investigates the transformations of the everyday that might occur if design took more inspiration from what Debussy called “the space between the notes.”
The Nonobject book, which has been 5 years in the making, has received high acclaim already. It featured on the Core 77 list of Best Innovation and Design Books of 2010; and is garnering high praise from figures such as Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture and Design at Moma, who said:
"A designer’s motto should always be ‘What if?’ It certainly is the motto of Nonobject. The fantasy of what an object should or could be becomes a way for the designer to embrace experimentation and imbue projects with a vitality that expands beyond the physical object and into our experience.”
Accompanying the book are some lovely short animations illustrating the objects, processes and thoughts of the Nonobject.The ones below show two differing takes on cellphone interface design inspired by this approach.
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