While conducting some research for a project several months ago, I came across the interesting work of Jenny Bergström, a designer and researcher in Stockholm. I was particularly intrigued by her 2007 research project entitled “This is the air we breathe…”, in which she uses a flock printing technique to display air pollution over time in an urban environment.
Above: Billboard revealing pollution over time via flock printing
You can view the progression of air pollution being revealed on this sign over time at Bergström’s website.
This is the air we breathe… provides instant feedback on our actions in the city. By using a technique for printing called ‘flock’ a dirt absorbing text or pattern can be printed on a less dirt absorbing surface and create a slow but direct response on pollution. People passing every day by car will be reminded of how they effect the urban environment.
In the city we are used to being approached by information from almost all directions. The commercialized urban environment consists of messages, constantly fighting for our attention, loud and/or with rapidly moving images. This is the air we breathe… uses another method in order to communicate. It demands time from the receiver and it does not deliver a straight answer.Jenny Bergström
Her website also contains an interesting and thought-provoking research paper entitled “Fear & Design”, (available as a PDF file) It investigates “how design can work with or against fear”, and “raises questions about fear and how rules about fear can be used in the design process”.