Invest Ottawa Residency 1/3 – Design Research Methods

The Luminartists, a partnership between Anthony Scavarelli and Henri Kuschkowitz, are currently in residency at the Invest Ottawa space. Over the course of there residency they will be posting chronicles of their project on the Artengine blog. Check back to see their progress!

1 of 3 months into this artist residency and there is plenty to be done! Fortunately though, we have a conceptual foundation laid out – formed from our experiences and exploratory research within the Invest Ottawa space. Before we get to far in describing our project let’s outline some background on this project that we, Luminartists, and our student assistant from Algonquin College, Kevin are honoured to be a part of.

Ottawa Magazine (May 2013) - Invest Ottawa Residency in City of Ottawa Art Comparison

Ottawa Magazine (May 2013) – Invest Ottawa residency in a City of Ottawa art comparison

The City of Ottawa, spearheaded by Julie DuPont from Ottawa’s Public Art Program, approached Invest Ottawa about creating some artwork in their building’s lobby in Little Italy. Through the help of the Algonquin College’s Applied Research and Innovation Program and Artengine, the goal of this art project is not only to have a creative artwork displayed in the lobby, but also to have the artists working within the Invest Ottawa space. In effect, placing them physically in the middle of a space traditionally reserved for entrepreneurial residents to mingle with the people that work for and at Invest Ottawa. This is an attempt to foster discussion and collaboration between the traditionally creative and business types.

We may be the first artists chosen for such an interesting and unique residency here in Canada, but hopefully not the last.

0/3 months into Invest Ottawa Residency

Our first day: – 0/3 months into the Invest Ottawa residency

1/3 months into Invest Ottawa Residency

A third of life – 1/3 months into the Invest Ottawa residency

The project has brought a unique perspective to our work since working within the business environment we have had opportunity to converse with some of the entrepreneurs, and the people who help Invest Ottawa help local businesses. Through some exploratory interviews we have found some terms that help describe how people feel about the space.

This is a brief synopsis of some of the terms that were used when residents spoke on their affinity for Invest Ottawa.

  • energy
  • mentorship
  • collaboration
  • innovation
  • speed
  • space
  • experience
  • growth

Concept Sketches

Concepts Concepts Concepts – Some sketches exploring various directions we could have gone.

We then used the terms listed above, the Invest Ottawa website, and through our conversations and observations of the space and how it was used, we brainstormed. Using techniques such as mind-mapping, discussion, and generally day-dreaming we came up with several concepts.

Very quickly we wanted to focus on the ceiling as it presented an interesting canvas to hang materials from to fill the space; but unfortunately many of our concepts that covered the ceiling, such as those seen in the sketch above, had to be discarded due to the sprinkler system installed in the lobby.

Working with the feelings and meanings the terms above evoke, we wanted to create a piece that is not only interactive (our strength), but capable of filling the space with a modest awe, or, as Invest Ottawa president Bruce Lazenby succinctly said, a “wow factor.” We felt this could be done, if, instead of using a 2 dimensional medium such as a screen – a more familiar form of digital media – we could fill the space with a sculptural work that was abstract enough to allow for both an individual meaning and a global meaning, such as a metaphorical journey.  That is, something that would fill the space from every angle, with a dynamic form.

Invest Ottawa Lobby

Invest Ottawa Lobby – Point of Insertion

With these thoughts we decided we would leave our comfort zone and push to create an interactive sculpture that would intrinsically connect with the building, as opposed to a piece that could hang on any wall, in any space. With these considerations, our own experiences within the space and the information we have received from those we have spoken to, the following design considerations now form the basis of our project:

  • The Space – This piece should be designed with considerations to business and economic development, but also, more specifically to its environment- the lobby. We are taking into consideration both how the space is used (people are not within the lobby long, quickly moving to the elevators or doors on the way to their office) and its natural form (large open space with lots of natural light). We aim to have the piece feel as if it were part of the building – extending from its walls and ceiling.
  • The Journey – We feel that Invest Ottawa provides a unique experience for businesses working, or looking to work, in Ottawa. Invest Ottawa not only acts as a mediator for businesses to network with other local businesses; but also as a stop where entrepreneurs can rent a space to conduct their business and meetings, attend workshops, and receive consultations. We feel that Invest Ottawa offers many unique and desirable programs; and that this all could be accurately described as a stop along ones’ journey to creating a successful business. We want to incorporate the concept of paths or journeys through a central representation of Invest Ottawa, their many partners and the businesses that help support business development in Ottawa.
  • Energy – When speaking with Invest Ottawa residents, we often hear descriptions of the energy that exists within Invest Ottawa.  This energy includes the potential that exists within it to help Ottawa businesses succeed as well as the many mentors and fellow entrepreneurs that help inspire and motivate. There is a large amount of energy propagation that passes through this space in the form of knowledge-sharing and collaboration; and there are a various ways that this concept of energy can be visualized. The three manifestations of the energy that we have chosen to focus on are movement, light, and sound.
  • Interactivity – It is our philosophy that the art we create should allow anyone to dynamically change and contribute to it in a more tangible sense. This also allows us to incorporate dynamic forms to make this happen, fulfilling one of Invest Ottawa and the City of Ottawa’s requirements that it should use technology.

Over the next couple of weeks we will refine our concept through both software and low-high fidelity hardware prototypes. We already have some LED RGB hardware and other various light-diffusing materials that we are exploring at this time (as seen in the image above cluttering our desk).  After these basic tests we should hopefully have a fully developed concept and plan of action by the end of the month which will give us the last 4-6 weeks to develop, build, and install the final installation. This project definitely leaves little room for temporal error but we definitely appreciate the challenge and opportunity to create a piece that will help augment and enhance the Invest Ottawa experience when one walks into the building.

– Anthony Scavarelli, Co-founder of Luminartists

Invest Ottawa Residency

The future …

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One Response to “Invest Ottawa Residency 1/3 – Design Research Methods”

  1. Anthony Scavarelli says:

    I haven’t seen it myself but it is likely a browser issue; as sometimes WordPress doesn’t follow strict HTML requirements and some browsers break when they come across bad code. Try Google Chrome as it usually seems the most solid.

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