Digital Realities is the second edition of Design Beyond Technology

The Industrial Design Association of Fostering Arts and Design ADI-FAD –a private, independent and non-profit institution based in Barcelona- is organizing on 25 and 26 March 2021 the second edition of Design Beyond Technology (DBT).

Staged on a biennial basis, alternating it with the ADI industrial design awards, Design Beyond Technology examines the relationship between design, technology, future and sustainability. The main goal is to make designers and attendees reflect on their discipline’s future role in regard to technology.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sport and CIMWORKS as Premium Partner, Digital Realities is a set of sessions born of the need to explore relations between design and technology and their evolution in the future, in a context in which the fusion of technologies that are currently being developed is breaking down the boundaries between the physical and digital spheres.

“We believe that design will be integrated into any project process right from the start to cease to be an aesthetic solution and take the lead in the future of technology at the service of society” explains Raffaella Perrone, vice president of ADI-FAD and curator of DBT jointly with Joan Recasens and Gennís Senén.

Digital Realities will be streamed live from the activity’s Roca Barcelona Gallery Venue Partner on the ADI-FAD YouTube channel. An online edition, exceptionally offered free of charge with prior registration.

Design Beyond Technology is open to designers, engineers, businesses from the sectors of technology, industry and design as well as universities and research centres. Equally, it is also a project devised for the general public interested in design and technology. The programme includes conferences and case studies. One of the strengths of the sessions is to bring Barcelona to internationally renowned speakers from the industry of new technologies and to be a professionalizing platform for the sector.


Conferences, Thursday 25/03 from 4 to 7 pm

Fredo De Smet

A cultural revolution

The digital world is characterized by a new structure, and this entails a new culture. A culture where humans are at the centre of the system. In his talk, Fredo will take us to the crossroads of culture, technology and society. Because only from there can we once again reclaim our future.


Fredo – born Frédéric – De Smet graduated in 2001 with a Master’s in Art and History Sciences with a philosophical essay that questioned the value of reality. It was based on a study on art, film, postmodern philosophy and popular culture. After working as a music producer and curator for more than a decade and having sojourned in the cities of Paris, London, Barcelona, New York and others, Fredo devoted himself to digital media and technology. For the IDFA festival in Amsterdam in 2012, he created a virtual-reality documentary on the First World War. In 2015 Fredo started working as an adviser to the public broadcaster VRT, curating the Media & Culture Fast Forward innovation festival. Fredo is currently also working as independent curator and consultant. He co-curated the Hello, Robot exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum. This led to his book Artificial Stupidity: Manual for Digital Humanists.

Kris De Decker – Low Tech Magazine Case Study: How to build a low-tech website?

Low-tech Magazine questions the belief in technological progress and highlights the potential of knowledge and technologies from the past to design a sustainable society. Due to a web redesign being delayed, this digital magazine decided to build a low-tech website to meet its needs while also complying with its principles.


Kris De Decker started his career as a science and technology journalist for Belgian newspapers and magazines. In 2007 he moved to Spain and founded Low-tech Magazine, an online and offline publication that questions our belief in high-tech solutions. Since 2016 he also works in academia (Demand Centre, CREDS, both in the UK), where he investigates energy demands in relation to social practices. Finally, he takes part in artistic projects such as the “Human Power Plant”, which investigates the possibilities of producing human energy in modern society. His latest project is the “Solar Powered Website”, which reveals the infrastructure behind the “virtual” online world.

Diego Lopez Urruchi – Norman Foster Foundation

Conference: Buckminster Fuller, Norman Foster and the Autonomous House

Diego López Urruchi will give a brief introduction to the origins of the Autonomous House, explaining the relationship between Buckminster Fuller and Lord Norman Foster. He will show some original sketches, together with photographs from the era and working maquettes and a description of the works produced by the Norman Foster Foundation (NFF) to resume the project and update it to present needs. The design process will be shown, including sketches by Norman Foster, 3D working models with renderings, working maquettes, parametric definitions and optimization of geometries.


Diego López Urruchi is an architect at the Architecture, Design and Technology Unit of the NFF. He has more than 15 years of experience in the world of architecture, with particular emphasis on the four years he worked at Foster + Partners (London), an office he left after having become an Associate Partner, for the honour of forming part of the team at the Norman Foster Foundation. He champions continuous learning as a method for remaining up to date on the constant technological novelties popping up in the industry. He has three Master’s degrees: one in Restoration and Conservation of the Architectural Heritage, another one in Hospital Infrastructures and, lastly, an MSc in Adaptive Architecture and Computation (Distinction) from UCL. Greatly interested in programming, he has studied the subjects of Synthetic Biology (Distinction) and Ontological Engineering as support in the personal commitment to the knowledge of Artificial Intelligence applied to design.

Manuel Jimenez – Nagami

Conference: Design as a vehicle for a new technological era

The way we understand technology has radically changed in the past decade. 3D printing, automation and virtual reality have become an extension of our design tools, transforming the way we think about shapes, spaces and fabricating systems. This talk will reveal different design methods conceived through the assimilation of a new technological era. From large-format 3D printing to robot-assisted construction, Manuel Jiménez will navigate a catalogue of projects undertaken by his research lab at The Bartlett UCL (Automated Architecture Labs) and Nagami, his robotic manufacturing business.


Manuel Jimenez García is co-founder and CEO of Nagami, a robotic design and manufacturing brand based in Ávila, Spain, the co-founder and co-director of Automated Architecture Ltd (AuAr), a London-based design and technology consultancy, and the founder and director of madMdesign, a computational design studio in London. For more than a decade Manuel has undertaken a vast variety of projects focusing on computational design and automation. His work has been displayed in the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Victoria & Albert Museum (London) Canada’s Design Museum (Toronto), The Design Museum (London), Royal Academy of Arts (London), Zaha Hadid Design Gallery (London) and Philadelphia Museum of Art. Manuel is a professor of Architecture at The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL (London), where he heads the MSc / MRes in Architectural Computation (AC), and the RC4 research unit in the Architectural Design Master’s (AD). Both form part of The Bartlett B-Pro. He is also the co-founder of UCL Automated Architecture Labs and the curator of Plexus, a series of multidisciplinary conferences based on computational design.

Qin Li – fuseproject

Case Study: Technology and the Human Experience

At the intersection of new technologies and human experience, designers have the opportunity to think holistically on the individual, the moment in time and the context to integrate technology into lives and elevate the human experience. The design thinking that captures all interrelated human dimensions offers a creative solution to problems in a way that can deepen its impact. Qin Li, design vice president of fuseproject, will talk to us about our responsibility as designers to contextualize the value of technology and design from a viewpoint centred on the human being at the present time as well as in the future.


Qin Li is the design vice president at the fuseproject. Making full use of her creativity and leadership, she adopts a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to teamwork and to involving all disciplines within a completely informed, thorough and integrated process. The design of human-centred experiences serves as a basis for Qin’s philosophy on how designers can add value, improve quality of life and tackle some of the world’s most urgent problem. In her more than fifteen years at fuseproject, she has helped Fortune-500 companies, startups, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs in guiding designs to market in several categories that include artificial intelligence and robotics, health and wellbeing, portable technology, consumer electronics, furniture, packaging and soft products, among others. Qin’s work has been globally recognized with numerous prizes, including the IDSA Gold and Special Award for the Snoo bassinet and Ori Living; the 100 best inventions of 2020 of TIME magazine for a smart robot designed for Embodied; and the 2020 Best of Year Award from Interior Design Magazine for the VOX ventilator. Qin has also won the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Academy of Art University.

Isabelle Olsson – Google

Conference: The softer side of technology

Isabelle will take us on a voyage to the design of hardware at Google, including touch and emotion, with the spirit of creating technology that adapts to people’s lives. She will share some of her perceptions along the way and the philosophy behind the design of the products.


Isabelle Olsson is the senior design director at Google Nest and Wearables. She also supervises CMF (Color, Material & Finish) for all Google hardware. Isabelle joined Google in 2011, working inside Google[x] on transforming new technology into attractive prototypes. Her team is responsible for the design of many of the prize-winning hardware products such as Nest Mini, Nest Audio and Nest Thermostat. Before joining Google, Isabelle worked at fuseproject designing a wide variety of products ranging from consumer electronics to exhibitions, packaging and jewellery. She has also designed several pieces of furniture on display at the Milan Furniture Fair. Isabelle grew up in Sweden under the influence of Scandinavian minimalist design. She holds a Master’s in Fine Arts and Industrial Design from Lund University. She was named one of the most creative persons by Fast Company in 2017 and selected by Glamour magazine as one of the “35 women under 35 who are changing the tech industry”. Her ultimate goal as a designer is to make people’s lives easier and more beautiful.

Conferences: Friday 26/03 from 10 am to 1 pm

Matteo Guarnaccia & Gabriel Alonso – Institute for Postnatural Studies Conference: The Post-Natural Condition

The severity of the current environmental crisis is encapsulated in a degree of deterioration that exceeds the environmental, impacting on social relations as well as on cultural production. With an approach to both contemporary matter and to its associate narratives, and using technology as a tool for giving visibility to the consequences of human activity on our environment, we are seeking a change of attitude towards the concepts of ecology, materiality, geology and nature. Through stories and tales that intermingle the natural and the cultural as two categories that can no longer be conceived as independent, this journey proposes a reflection on the complexities of the contemporary moment, connecting territories and images with their cultural, social, political and aesthetic layers. 


Matteo Guarnaccia (Sicily, 1993) is a designer who trained in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Madrid. His work crosses different disciplines, expanding the idea of design towards a wide variety of fields, always influenced by his travels and relations with different environments. 

Gabriel Alonso (Spain, 1986) is a virtual artist who trained in Madrid, Berlin and New York. Through various formats, his latest projects explore assemblies between the natural and the artificial through the material, activating a change of perspective on the relations between science, aesthetics, archaeology, geology and human culture. In 2020, they jointly founded the Institute for Postnatural Studies, an artistic experimentation centre through which to explore and problematize post nature as a framework for contemporary creation. The IPS are set up as a platform for critical thinking; a networked place that shares artists and researchers concerned with the issues of the global environmental crisis through experimental formats of exchange and production of open knowledge. 

Bas Van De Poel – SPACE10 | Modem

Case Study: Cultural Production in The Age of Self-Learning Machines

What do the recent advances in AI and Machine Learning signify for the designer’s role? Will it increase our creative and productive capabilities or will it defy the notion of authorship and originality? In his conference, the director of innovation at Modem, Bas van de Poel, will explore the impact of self-learning machines on the practice of tomorrow’s design.


Bas van de Poel is director of innovation and co-founder of Modem, a new design and innovation office that designs for resilience in times of exceptional change. Before Modem, Bas was creative director of the IKEA design and research lab, SPACE10, where he worked on large-scale sustainability and transformation programmes.

Juan Umbert & Adrià Colominas – Makeat  

Case Study: Food Design & Tech, the new generation of gastronomy products

Has a new gastronomic revolution arrived? In this conference we will explain how design and technology disciplines are blending with the gastronomic ecosystem to generate different products with stories to tell, materializing the creativity of professionals in a way not seen before.


Juan Umbert and Adrià Colominas are the men behind Makeat, a startup founded in 2018 with the aim of revolutionizing and helping the world of gastronomy through innovation, design and technology, setting up a digital fabrication centre devoted to the future of gastronomy. They are pioneers in this discipline. Their extensive knowledge of 3D printing and other technologies are helping in adapting them to the gastronomy industry while challenging them to obtain new products that would be impossible without these technologies while improving production processes to make them more efficient.