In the age of information, Athena would be a goddess of technology. Olivia Lee summoned her for the analogue Athena Collection, presented in Milan at Salone Satellite 2017.
April 19th, 2017
Singaporean designer Olivia Lee is a huge sci-fi fan, and has always been intrigued by the idea of the smart home. “I love watching dystopian films and science fiction,” she tells us at her Salone Satellite stand at the Salone del Mobile, “but there’s always something that’s so far removed. It’s hard to see it as something that we might actually want to live with.”
This disjunction is what inspired Where Athena Lives: The Athena Collection – an ode to the contemporary woman. If the ancient Greek goddess was a beacon of knowledge and war, and a patron of heroes, today by extension, suggests Lee, she would be a goddess of technology. Lee asked herself: What would Athena make of the world we live in today, our adoration of new media or fetish with the Internet of Things? What new rituals and habits would she sanction?
“I was very interested in creating a smart-home concept that feels very warm, tactile and inviting – not cold and fictional. So I created a range of objects that are technological in an analogue sense. They don’t involve any electronics but they work together with the way we use social media, the way we use video calls on our phones, the way we have such an intimate relationship with our handheld devices,” Lee explains at her stand.
The Athena Collection prioritises materiality and reimagines analogue objects for digital habits through simple twists, design interventions and multiple-functions. The Altar vanity set is a centerpiece of the collection – a focal point for beauty and digital communication. The ring light provides balanced illumination for grooming or teleconferencing, and also creates a discrete photo booth.
A suite of interchangeable Sceptres serves as an extension to the Altar, catering to both technology and beauty rituals. The Media Sceptre, Glorifier Sceptre, Selfie Sceptre and Mirror Sceptre offer a variety of functions, from swivelling smartphone holder to personal mirror and pedestal for treasured possessions.
Other objects include the Arena carpet, which has tactile details and borders to demarcate virtual and physical space during gaming or VR use; the Emblem wall grid system, which provides acoustic buffering and temporary seating pads for guests (ideal for small living spaces); and the Dias tray tables, which cater to laptop work and leisure, being easily transferred from bed to sofa to floor.
“Things like virtual reality, which used to be such a foreign concept, are now domesticated. It’s consumer entertainment. So it’s interesting to work on a collection that tries to move together with the pace of technology,” said Lee in Milan.
Asked how visitors to her stand have been responding to the collection, she offered: “I think people are very intrigued by the technological story underpinning this collection. It was very deliberate to create a collection that appears at first glance to simply be just a new furniture collection, but there’s actually a deeper story behind it. It’s one that is unrecognisably technological. A technology blogger was saying the intersection between technology and furniture is great. Finding that balance is the most exciting and tricky thing.”
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