Updated: May 19
Maria, we really want to know more about you, can you talk about yourself. What is your story?
First, I would like to thank for the interest on my work and my personal approach as a designer.
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. I believe that the way I was raised and the culture I grew up in has shaped the way I think. South America is known for its narrative; Magical Realism to be precise. Hyperbole is the norm and there is a thin distinction between dreams and reality. My work interprets this narrative.
Resonate intends to encourage a Furniture piece which intends to engage strangers with one another with no normal social constraints. We are allowed to connect with one another in an intuitive and experimental way.
You were born in Peru but later you have decided to move to New York for your education, how this happened why did you choose NY and as an industrial designer how the city effected you?
Yes, I was raised in Lima and decided to complete my studies in New York City. As a designer, my hometown brought many valuable things that now I realize has shaped the way I think and who I really am. First, I thank my hometown for encouraging my pure desire to go after my passions and on pursuing my personal interests. I grew up as an athlete, passion that made me trace myself goals and aim for achievements. Personally, I like to push myself out of my comfort zone to achieve the unexpected. Something that I currently revisit in my work. I enjoy challenges and working in a community that shares the same passion as I do.
I made the decision to study Industrial design abroad my own country as I felt I needed to put myself in a new context to hear myself louder. With the later support of my parents, I grew up as a visual thinker within a community that passions were similar and encouraged to be my best. At Pratt I found myself as a designer with determined interests in aesthetics and innovative design. Made me aware of how important it was for me to excel better ways of product interaction with users. My design school promoted my creativity in ways which I was not aware it could be developed even further, and my need to accomplish uncertainties I thought through a rigorous process.
As a creative culture I was raised in, I realized with time what my passions and interests where. After injuring myself as an athlete, I got the chance to focus on my strengths and aimed to pursue these without hesitation. When I competed on 100m I had to visualize myself aiming for a certain technique or echoed in my head a rhythm to follow as when running. As in life I realized later on, smaller strides when at the start but stronger and more perseverant.
New York City was a new context I needed to introduce myself into and to hear myself louder. This culturally diverse city, was going to help me grow up more sensitively as a visual designer and wiser as a thinker. However, a city where I had push myself as a designer even harder.Both cities being culturally rich, I have the opportunity to boldly merge and develop both in my work.
You are presenting your project “Resonate” in Milan Design Week. Could you describe it in more detail to us?
Resonate’ is a collaborative project with the Brooklyn Museum in New York, USA which aims to strengthen the interaction between visitors regardless of age or physical differences. This table hosts a responsive surface that utilizes touch as an input for sound, allowing visitors to collaborate with one another to “sculpt” their own audio experience. This encourages participants to play, listen, and connect with one another through music, a very universal form of expression.
’Resonate’ is a project that explores user’s senses through common intuition. I used simple but visually intriguing graphics which encourage the user to Touch-
interact with the table in order to understand what it is and how it works. Resonate was introduced at the Brooklyn museum for visitors to interact and showcased at the Stockholm Greenhouse furniture Fair which made me validate and further my research on visitors intuitive interaction with this project. As a designer, I try to create a space of intrigue and spark the same curiosity I have when assembling this project together. ‘Resonate’ creates an experience and an abstract touch between strangers.
During my process, I researched ways in which interaction could be approached like when in surface. We worked together with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to understand the basic forms of interaction. Also, bringing inspiration from Theremin abstract audio interaction. This project was meant to be innovative, but at the same time be intuitive.
The patterns on the table top are visually intriguing, sparking curiosity on users to touch, play and engage. A set of ‘dots’ run along the surface and each connects to a hidden smart board. This is in-
housed in table’s accesible compartment. The table top becomes a circuit board, and the design presents this in a very minimalist and modern way. Conductive ink in order to be silkscreened on surface, has been diluted and mixed with other non- polymer materials so that circuitry remains active and system works efficiently.
This smart board is configured so that once touched a determined piano note is played by the in- housed speakers. Notes can be played simultaneously, and music time can be defined by the time users touch them.
This furniture houses a set of aluminum speakers that were CNC machined to fit in design ergonomics. Resonate is a furniture housing a flexible and tactile- audio experience.
This System could be applied into different forms and ways in which the users may play or learn from this interactive design.Each audio output could be modified to exert a determined tune or phrase once touched. Dependent of its context, each note could be a learning experience for users. Build a sentence or recreate a new space based on your interaction with the dots. Resonate experiments with an innovative system that could be applied based on its contextual means.
Resonate is a new proposal for users to engage and connect with one another through a universal form of expression, and aims to stimulate curiosity on visitors.
What is your main inspiration in your designs?
I believe us. Users are my main inspiration for each design concept and further development. Its based on our immediate needs. I intend to make form and function efficient and cohesive. This way, Design is intended and validated. As designers we also have great responsibility on furthering products or systems that are efficient to our needs.
I think “Resonate” will take a lot of attention during Milan Design Week, how come you became interested with music, also in the real life do you play any instruments?
Thank you, I believe ‘Resonate’ is a great fit for a vibrant environment as Milan Design Week, where users from different places and cultures have an opportunity to engage in a new intended space.
As poetry or literature, I have always been interested in music. It is an immediate form of human self expression. I was raised in a big family back in Peru where music always played an important role on our culture. My parents owned a restaurant and my sister would play piano.It was a family business but also a space where I got the opportunity to learn and admire it. Music set a an intimate moment for who where present, and always intrigued by the personal experience that Music engage us all but we, each, assimilated it differently. Music has the strength to engage us together in an independent way. Looking at my sister closing her eyes while playing effortlessly each note, is a moment she recreated for all of us and it is a moment that I intend to revisit.
3 Keywords for your project?
Innovative, experimental, intimate
What is “ great design” for you?
Great design is a space where form evokes function. This, proving design being efficient and encouraging its true means. As an Industrial designer, product is where this content is applied. It could be a table, could be an environmental system, or it could even be a tool.
As an international designer, who do you follow? Who is your favorite designer?
As a creative thinker I follow design that originated part of my culture. Peru, hometown known for its amazing cultural enrichment, made me aspire to artistic influencers from the South American “Boom”. Hyperbole is the norm and there is a thin line between dreams and reality. Quoting Gabriel Garcia Marquez; leader of magical realism, the perception of our reality (our history) and personal means (our perception) are are furthered. This concept is my main foundation as a creative; Merging our rich culture with our personal perspective upon reality. Bonding my culture and New York city leads me towards an interesting journey.
As an industrial designer, I follow inspirational design that constantly influence my process and work. Personally, I look after innovative design and designers that are experts on their fields. I believe when you are true to your passions, you further your skills and interests towards an unexpected and breathtaking design. I follow designers as Tinker Hatfield whose design merged form and function and reinvented a culture. Also, I follow larger scale design as Saha Hadid’s ambitious furniture and architectural work. Function- driven through form, is an ongoing duty that I intend to develop within my projects. Also, I admire and follow different young and talented designers and professors that lead new ways of perception and thinking. I admire the strength of process and inspiration from current design.
How is your creative process, how do you concentrate, you have any specific methods to work?
My creative process starts by getting inspiration from users. Why, what and when. These are questions that as creatives we intend to deliver in the most efficient way within design. This complex thinking developed through an experimental process leads me to a simple design resolution. Also, having present an aesthetic research and inspiration board as we diligently deliver our process.
I enjoy the process of research and validation, areas of the creative process that I personally spend most of my time to land in a finalized concept. However, I think that every design concept is really never finalized and could be revisited or improved depending on the real means and context of this project.
As creatives, we have an endless time and space of thinking. For me, Day time is visual and conceptual inspiration and night time is a moment to expand in analytical thinking. During this time, I try to listen to music that makes me the most vulnerable and so expand even further in thoughts. Currently, I work full time on a leather good company where I focus on accessory design. Here, I understand how design works within market constraints or user demands. However, I focus on my personal projects during weeknights or weekends that further my interests as a designer. It is a balance between what you love to do and how you can push yourself further. One of my biggest fears is to feel comfortable.
From your point of view, what do you think is the fundamental factor in design?
From my own perspective, I believe its the means of a project that is fundamental for its validation. We are responsible of delivering solutions in the most efficient and best way. These being abstract and dependent on the means of the design. Always taking great consideration on the real execution and the final crafts and materials of design. Means, context, and execution are fundamental for a great design.
Do you have any other projects that you are working on that we can see in the future?
Yes. I am currently working on an extension of ‘Resonate’. I intend to expand this audio- tactile experience within a different format and context. Making an interactive wall installation that will indirectly make users interact the way my design intends to. As of now, I am experimenting with conductivity and material, which will be applied to a larger scale system. Taking in consideration interaction input from Resonate at the Brooklyn Museum, Stockholm furniture fair, and now Milan Design week, I really intend to expand its means through a different product. My work will be featured at my website ( mariacastillodesign.com ) or Instagram ( @mariacastillito ) I hope I get the chance to showcase this project open to audience in New York City, where I currently reside. This will lead me to further my exploration for this this concept.
Again, Thank you for the great interest in my work and I believe it is a great opportunity to connect with more designers and collaborate to achieve the unexpected. Thank you, Maria.