As well as collaborating with Thales Alenia Space, it’s really important for us to involve design companies and space companies every year, which have the specific know how for tackling the various projects.
Their initial reaction is one of enthusiasm, along with a slight, totally legitimate, fear of not being up to taking on a field like space, which is recognised as being the most technologically advanced, and not having the necessary tools with which to do so. This is where we come in – our job is to speak different languages and to act as a “bridge” between space and Earth, bringing science, technology and beauty together, demonstrating the extremely important and strategic role design can play in generating innovation inspired by space technologies, as well as good practices and behaviours that can be an example to those of us who live on Earth – and vice versa.
While working on our projects we have happened, during the latest space station concept commissioned by Thales Alenia Space for instance, to propose the use of Caimi Brevetti’s acoustic textiles for lining the interior of a particular habitation module devoted to entertainment, for which we were very particular about the sensorial and sensitive aspects such as sound absorption, light quality, colours, the materials that would make the entire space much “softer” and more welcoming. NASA is testing Caimi Brevetti’s acoustic materials at the moment, to see if they could be integrated into the International Space Station (ISS), which is an extremely noisy environment. We think this marks a great success for a design company and we’re really glad to have been able to create that “bridge” and that the company has taken on the challenge.
This has given rise to many more. We explored the issues involved with food in space with Argotec, from both a nutritional and a technological point of view, keeping gestures very much in mind as always, and came up with new 3-D printed pasta shapes and new ways of enjoying wine without it escaping from the glass, with Barilla, Ancap and Italesse. We brought in TechnoGym, in a bid to make the astronauts’ physical activities more pleasant and enjoyable, and also introducing paired and group exercises, to reinforce the crew’s sense of belonging. In one of the 12 projects we carried out, the inspiration of the movement of the acrobats was a useful spin-in for thinking up new ways of exercising on board. We have designed new interior spaces with Foscarini, harnessing light to recreate terrestrial “landscapes” like the Japanese komorebi: it’s the dappled light that filters through leaves on trees, it’s a state of mind, an atmosphere that we have tried to reproduce artificially, with an eye also to re-establishing the circadian rhythms, which are affected by the lack of natural light in confined environments.
The challenges we take on with our companies are always very exciting, because we push them beyond the established models, to create new things. We believe that space will have a defining influence on our lifestyles not just now, but increasingly in the future, improving performance quality, altering behaviours and creating new needs … the first design companies to embrace these new opportunities and translate them into products will be the pioneers of the near future, which is already here, even though not everyone’s realised it yet.