The Future of Bathroom Technology: An Interview with Kane Fernandes
Here at Private Room, we think the best designs are those with real life in mind. We want things to be beautiful, yet also offer something positive to the everyday lives of the user – high expectations, we know. But after meeting Product Designer Kane Fernandes at the New Designers show in June, we found we were kindred spirits.
With a focus on user experience and wellbeing, Kane’s smart mirror concept ‘Reflection’ offers ‘mirror meditation’ practice as well as air quality sensing and natural purification – housed in a simple, sleek design that will blend into any décor. Here we talk to Kane about Reflection and his thoughts on the future of technology in our bathrooms.
So let’s begin with your smart mirror ‘Reflection’. What’s it all about?
‘Reflection’ has been designed to fit seamlessly within the home, and not define itself from first glance as a smart object. The mirror looks like a simple interior mirror until you decide to use it – whereby an ultrasonic sensor allows the light to grow brighter and brighter the closer you get.
Reflection offers the user the date, time and personal calendar events along with a custom news feed. A discreet camera, that hides when not in use, takes a photo of the user every day to provide an annual ‘reflection video’.
It also incorporates a meditation practice that’s popular in New York right now known as ‘mirror mediation’, and an air quality sensor disguised as an Aloe Vera plant - measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure and air quality. This allows the user to track their home environment - advising if you need to crack open a window, turn on the heating or consider a ventilation system. I was keen to incorporate this feature as air quality is often undermined when measuring wellbeing.
Smart mirrors are gaining quite a bit of traction in the tech world right now. How would you say Reflection is different?
I’d say it’s the concept and thinking behind Reflection that makes it different. Reflection goes that step further and can be marketed as an everyday object not just there to help us with the day-to-day runnings of our lives but also with our health and sense of purpose, which is something we are all prone to neglecting. It’s got our basic human needs at its core, going beyond what people tend to use technology for.
Sounds progressive! Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into design?
I’ve just finished 4 years at Middlesex University, having studied Product Design BSc. I like the challenge of being resourceful and using what’s around me to make something from nothing. I’ve also always been intrigued by how things are made, along with a curiosity of what makes people want to buy or use something. Studying Product Design at University was a sort of natural progression for me.
So what came first: your interest in technology, or your interest in design?
I think it began with technology, which developed into an appreciation for design. I was always the kid into gadgets, wanting the latest new thing. This led to a curiosity in what fields our interest in the objects we come to use every day, and how design has a part in it.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Design icons such as Dieter Rams, Don Norman, Joe Colombo have always been sources of interest to me, but the phrase ‘design is a conversation’ is one that resonates because some of my best designs have materialised as a result of discussion with others.
Have you got any thoughts around the future of technology in our homes?
I believe that technology within the home has become a sort of ‘ecology’, allowing the consumer to purchase and grow their ‘smart home’ as they choose – as opposed to a decade ago, which would have involved expensive hard-wiring, and be dated within a few years. This is brilliant because it makes the latest technology more accessible to more people.
We’re seeing very progressive levels of embedded technology in Japan right now, and whilst it may be a while before the rest of the world catches up, more temporary, affordable alternatives will hopefully arise soon and be able to cater to the ever-growing market of renters.
What do you think a bathroom of the future will look like?
I think the bathroom will be no exception to what I’ve said above, and I believe that as we’re becoming more and more aware of how important self-care is, we’ll very soon begin to see bathroom design prioritising this – helping it form an essential part of our everyday lives.
Whilst Reflection is only in concept phase at the moment, we think it has huge potential to become a commonplace item in homes of the near future. To see what else Kane is up to find him on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook - @KFERNANDESIGN - and on LinkedIn.