June 28, 2013
MailChimp has announced a partnership with Brendan Dawes, who is exploring the ways internet-connected objects can interact with email. Dawes, a UK-based designer and MoMa exhibited artist, plans to augment digital and physical realms, connecting real-life, tangible objects to our inboxes in ways that make life better.
“There’s a lot of talk about the Internet of Things—physical objects connected to the internet—and it’s something I’ve been playing around with for a while,” Dawes says. “However, I’ve never been personally turned on by the likes of opening a garage door with your phone. I’m more interested in the subtle, discreet interactions that may or may not be deemed useful in a conventional sense, but can still speak to us as human beings.”
Since the early 1980s, Dawes has explored the world where people, code, design, and art meet. He often describes his work as “fillings for rectangles,” those rectangles being books, websites, posters, iPhone apps, or pieces of plastic. The Webby-nominated creator has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and many more. He published the 2006 book, Analog In, Digital Out, and his iPhone stand, MoviePeg, is now sold in more than 70 countries. He hopes his work will change the way people think about email.
“To my mind, email gets really bad press,” Dawes says. “Yes, like anyone else, I get spam, but email has always brought me incredible opportunities. In fact, I’d say I wouldn’t have the career I have now without wonderful things landing in my inbox. So my hope is that this project will make people take another look at email and see if for the wonderful medium it is. Email is very familiar to most people, so through its ubiquity comes comfort of use and feeling of familiarity that is not as scary as most technology.”
In one of Dawes' experiments, he plans to use email as a network that connects physical memories (a souvenir like a snow globe) with digital ones (photos from the trip where the snow globe was purchased). The idea is that when someone touches the snow globe, it will trigger an email that includes digital memories such as photos or anecdotes from the trip. Maybe the person who owns the snow globe is cleaning their house. Maybe a visitor picks it up to look at it. But the result is an unexpected thrill from the inbox’s owner.
“I’m not really coming to this research with any preconceptions,” Dawes says. “I want to be surprised and delighted by what will hopefully spring forth from the project. The way I like to work is, rather than create a finite thing, I like to create mini ecosystems that allow people to work within a small set of constraints. This allows the thing I’ve made to be pushed and pulled into different shapes by other people, creating things and using the objects in a way that I never imagined when I first came up with the idea.”
MailChimp supports more than 3 million users worldwide, sending 5 billion messages per month. MailChimp is designed for the do-it-yourself power user—someone looking for the advanced technology of an enterprise application, but built for anyone to use. For more information, visit MailChimp.com.
Brendan Dawes is a UK-based designer and artist exploring the interaction of objects, people, technology and art using an eclectic mix of digital and analog materials. On top of all that, his Mum says he’s good with computers. Find out more at BrendanDawes.com.