Mission CTRL is an exhibition featured May 16-19 at the 2014 NYCxDesign venue Wanted Design. The project was created as a collaboration between sixteen designers from the School of Visuals Arts' MFA in Products of Design course 'Design Performance,' taught by faculty member Sinclair Smith.

The project presents a suite of interactions that explore how we come together to experience and share new design. The interventions re-imagine common gestures of digital, social networking as analog artifacts and performances, critiquing our dependence on new technology and providing alternatives for timely communication and way finding.

Through a playful series of dynamic, participatory installations, Mission CTRL celebrates the design community at large, and invites visitors to put away their devices and interact with each other in real life (IRL).



The Design Suite


Post: Visitors at Wanted Design were invited to post their thoughts, their worries, their opinions and ideas via #POST: Seven roving vertical signs that travel the vast expanse of the exhibition space, allowing visitors to “analog tweet” in real space and in real time. Messages could originate from the Mission CTRL booth, or be spontaneously created live and in person. Students worked with visitors to help them construct messages, engaging them in conversations around social media. Analog tweets ranged from shout-outs of great work to messages back home, to news of after-parties and notes of lost items. #POST provided a large, low-tech, and mobile platform to help people get their messages seen.


Press creates an analog experience that provides a rich, interactive way to create messages. Posting to social media can be so easy that messages can often be unconsidered and rushed. #PRESS builds in time and labor into the process, painstakingly stamping out messages to be displayed throughout the Wanted exhibit on mobile signs.

Fan: As a way to physicalize the “like” button, visitors to the exhibition are given a hand-screened, chipboard paddle—called a fan—which takes its cues from the auction world. When visitors see something that they like at Wanted, they “give a wave,” voting with their fan by holding it up alongside the exhibitor—who have been provided with a deluxe model. Together they are able to draw attention to the exhibitor’s work, creating a new gesture of approval and appreciation.


Portal replaces the idea of “checking in” or “logging in” to the digital world. Since people are coming to Wanted Design to have a real life experience, this initiation is an opportunity to transition from the digital to the analog. Motion sensors in the device trigger an audio surprise audible to the visitor as they pass through the device.


Decision CTRL is an installation to guides visitors through a decision tree, inviting them to evaluate whether or not to tweet something. Students’ insight was that people often regret posting something to their social media—that it’s just too quick and easy—and #DECISION builds in more time to consider whether one should post something or not.


The Design Process