Offline mode

With the increase in the number of devices connected to wireless networks, in the coming years, we will see more and more products designed to protect people, machines and installations against the high level of electromagnetic radiation. Here are the latest examples from the Netherlands: pyjamas, blanket and floor screens that reflect or absorb cellular and wi-fi waves. 

With Theresa Bastek, the graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven and the author of Flight Mode collection, I talk about the objects that protect users against so-called e-smog, which is an electromagnetic radiation associated with modern devices based on wireless connectivity.

This interview has been edited for space and clarity. To listen to the original conversation conducted in Eindhoven during the Dutch Design Week 2016 , press play on the video embedded below. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEoXYzb8Wdc&t=1s

TrendNomad.com: What your graduation project “Flight Mode” is about?
Theresa Bastek: For my graduation project, I made a research about the electromagnetic radiation. I have developed devices to shield ourselves off from the radiation that is all over time around us, generated by internet devices and phones that we use in our daily lives.

Are you sure there is a need for protecting ourselves from radiation generated by technology? Even the sunlight is a kind of the electromagnetic radiation – we can live with that.
Indeed, the sunlight is one of the types of electromagnetic radiation. However, you are not surrounded by the sunlight 24/7. After certain moments in your daily life of being exposed to the Sun, you usually seek for a shadow. Unlike the sunlight, the electromagnetic smog surrounds us 24/7, and we almost can’t escape it anymore. My project aims to create an understanding of its presence and give solutions to recuperate from it.

The sunlight is visible, but the wi-fi and cellular network are not.
Because electromagnetic radiation made by mobile devices is something very invisible, I created a tool to make the radiation visible. I called it the Whistleblower. When you stand next to it, and make a phone call or connect a device to the internet, the agent will light up. The scale will go down if there is less radiation around you.

flight-mode-whistleblower-theresa-bastek

What kind of solution do you offer?
I have been working together with scientists to develop materials and objects that can be used to shield ourselves from this kind of radiation.

flight-mode-textile-theresa-bastek
Very fine stainless steel yarns are integrated into Flight Mode textile, making it reflective for electromagnetic waves.

Firstly, I made textiles that have the ability to reflect the electromagnetic radiation. Since there are metal fibres in the textiles, they act as a sort of a Faraday Cage.

flight-mode-blanket-and-screen-theresa-bastek

Secondly, I have also made screens that are made of carbon materials. I contrast to textiles that reflect radiation, carbon absorbs the electromagnetic smog. Screens create a kind of a shadow zone, so you can stand next to them.

Carbon materials have the property of absorbing electromagnetic radiation.

How many models of standing screens have you designed?
There are two screens based on carbon materials: one  is made of carbon rods, and the second is woven of carbon fibres. The third, small screen is made of charcoal. Charcoal is well known as a material that absorbs smells, but it also absorbs the electromagnetic radiation.

flight-mode-screens-theresa-bastek

What was particularly important for you when you were designing the Flight Mode collection?
I wanted to get an aesthetic fact that does not remind us of technology, but rather of something that we know from the past. Something that makes us feel more comfortable.

Is your design useful only on a small scale?
I can imagine three screens to grow in an architectural scale to become a very efficient tool to absorb the electromagnetic smog that is constantly all around us.

 

If you have any questions regarding Flight Mode collection, you can send them directly to Theresa Bastek at info@studioplastique.be. You can also find more information about Theresa at www.studioplastique.be.

Main picture by Femke Reijermann.

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