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John Marshall: THR_33 (Tea House for Robots)

June 1, 2010

THR_33 (Tea House for Robots), a collaborative project by rootoftwo (Assistant Professor John Marshall and Cezanne Charles) and PLY Architecture (Craig Borum and Karl Daubmann) will be shown in the exhibition: Trouble in Paradise/The Ethics of Survival at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan from Friday, July 9 — Sunday, August 22, 2010.

Marshall is documenting the process of making this project at his blog,  Designed Objects.

THR_33 (Tea House for Robots) is comprised of a responsive architectural environment and a group of robotically-enhanced domestic appliances.  Imagine if your radio could tune into any frequency that had ever been broadcast.  What would we hear?  Imagine if your toaster could remember how you liked your toast, or your entire family’s preferences.  What if your kitchen mixer could prepare ingredients based on downloadable techniques and recipes — where you just choose the recipe/technique, add the ingredients and it does the rest?  What if household appliances in the future recharged at solar powered light wells and required time to play in order to learn?

THR_33 imagines all this and proposes that as our appliances become smart we will change the way we live and come to think of them.  Perhaps we would cherish these products more than the throwaway gadgets we currently create.  In our speculative future, appliances have evolved to become part of the family.

THR_33 questions how we will relate to these autonomous and responsive environments and appliances.  THR_33 mixes the sophistication of contemporary smart and super phones, with the design aesthetic of iconic industrial products to produce appliances we want to live with.  Domestic space will also change to regulate temperature, lighting and produce and store all its inhabitants’ energy needs.  These power stations can form a dual purpose — providing power and space for the robots and their owners to interact and play.

The ‘Tea House’ Structure conforms to the traditional dimensions of a Japanese Tea House of 9’ x 9’ x 6’, the space provides a series of interactions between user and space, space and robots. The ‘Robots’ (TST_003, RDO_002, and MXR_011) all have unique traits, behaviors and interactions. The interactions move between user and object, object and space. TST_003 is a toaster. RDO_002 is a radio and MXR_011 is a stand mixer. They all have been reconceived as sense-enabled robots with speculative features.

John Marshall & Cezanne Charles

PLY Architecture
Karl Daubmann & Craig Borum

With help from Osman Khan, Chris Johnson Westley Burger and Robert Yuen.

This project is supported by:
The Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan.
The School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.


John Marshall: THR_33 (Tea House for Robots)