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From glassy-eyed to mesmerized

It was definitely worth the move. For 10 days in a row, we carried ourselves and thus our office to Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. That’s a 120 km down South from our regular whereabouts in Amsterdam. At this annual art and design festival, we presented our most recent project, Cucalu: a game on your phone that lures you into looking úp from your phone.

For this purpose, we built a wooden construction (partly pictured above), which we manned ourselves for the complete 10 days, consecutively. We talked to hundreds of people and played Cucalu day and night. Literally. Safely seated behind our desks again, we’d like to share a few things about what we’ve experienced by being part of such a substantial event.

When you dedicate time and effort to a project, nothing motivates more than sincere interest from passers-by. We saw how, during our presentation of Cucalu, the look on people’s faces would gradually change from glassy-eyed to mesmerized. Here, we’ll tell you how.

People naturally stopped in front of the tv-screens attached to our wooden wizardry, because we played animated movies of photos taken with Cucalu. Not surprisingly, they had no clue about the story behind the animations. So we explained how Cucalu challenges you to spot circles, squares and triangles in your environment, by using your phone. The first level is all about spotting round things. We proposed people to play that level on the premises with one of the iPhones we hooked onto the stand. Boy, they performed beyond expectation. They revealed plenty of circles and photographed eyes, buttons, camera lenses, umbrellas and tunnel earrings. It left us surprised and them gleefully proud of their efforts. To us, it had never been so clear how Cucalu makes people move and interact with one another.

In the little experience we designed, we also left space for serendipity. Although it feels as if no one would understand Cucalu better than we do, the opposite turned out to be true. Many people suggested applying the principles of Cucalu to other fields of work. Think art class, travel guide, creative thinking tool, photography course, children’s toy, anthropological research or innovation instrument. (Do let us know if we did not list your suggestion.)

Back home, we know how important it is to be at least a team of two. It’s more fun to continuously improve and rephrase your story, it’s easier to start talking to strangers and company is the best fuel to keep energy levels up and running. Quite essential, since we literally completed a design-marathon this time. This month, we’ll apply our lessons to the upcoming Amsterdam-based events. On November 8, you’ll meet us at Bright Day in the Westergasfabriek and from November 19-30, we’re part of IDFA’s Immersive Reality exhibition in the Brakke Grond. Hope to see you there.