Louis Elwood-Leach
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Master's Thesis (2018)
New York School of Visual Arts

Many of the products we interact with on a daily basis are becoming invisible. Through digital services providing infinite access, sharing economies that fluidly move objects between individuals, and mass manufacture of highly disposable objects, our things are moving from something personal to something ephemeral. There when we need them - gone when we don’t. 

My thesis explores the rise of these invisible products and considers opportunities to reclaim our relationship with possessions in an augmented age that increasingly values access over possession, experience over product, and machine over individual. I argue that in losing sight of the possessions in our lives, we are losing the means to engage with our memories, culture and sense of self. The objects which we once collected and curated are leaving our control, becoming ephemeral, transient and impersonal. Through my research I identified a rise in the impersonal products that I termed invisible possessions and through my thesis I explored opportunities to reclaim a personal relationship with the new ways of owning. 


Design Experiments


FirstHand is a parametrically generated watch that generates a unique spirograph pattern for the face each time one is sold. FirstHand explores the metaphor of the spirograph, a pattern with thousands of variations but a pattern that is difficult to replicate to give owners a sense of personal agency over the aesthetic.


Shelve Your Things is a parametrically designed shelf that uses our possessions as inputs to generate a design and silhouette the possessions we love into the furniture of our homes.


Flâneur is a mobile app that enables us to explore our digital media through the physical spaces that give it real context by connecting with our apps and subscriptions. Flaneur looks beyond pure convenience to create an experience with invisible media that is less ephemeral and feels real.


DIY Smart Speaker is a DIY project published on instructables.com. This experiment aimed to bring a sense of warmth to the new way of owning and accessing digital content by interacting with it through the products we already own and love.


The Wonderful Life of an Object is an experiment to capture a day in the life of New York’s shared objects through the people that use them and a disposable camera. This experiment aimed to reframe objects of a shared economy as objects of a shared mythology.