Let’s Get Physical: The Lure of Digital Experiences in the Real World

David Schwarz is an award-winning creative partner at HUSH, an independent design agency based in New York. His team’s SXSW panel with collaborator Joe Stitzlein (Nike Global Brand Design Creative Director) will explore Nike’s Camp Victory and the ideas, technologies, and strategies behind its success. Visit here to learn more and vote.

I’m 8. I’m in the New Jersey suburbs. It’s a Summer evening. I’m about to take a drive with my dad. I get in after him. Closing the door, I hear the distinct click of the lock finding its slot. There’s a change in air pressure that’s hard to describe – but it’s anticipatory. I think Christopher Cross is on the radio.

We all have these kinds of intimate, personal memories. Even when they’re small, they effect you on visceral levels – a vivid color, a material touch, a poignant sound. Now at HUSH, we spend time designing these memories from a unique, digital perspective.

I forget who said it, and I might be bastardizing the quote, but someone once explained that the sci-fi genre is a vision of the future that comments most heavily on the present. Our company is hell bent on thinking about what’s next while being highly critical of what’s now.

At our core, we’re big fans of any digital experience that creates a physical reaction. Digital media – the light from pixels, the waveforms of audio – are tactile if controlled properly. After all, digital can do a lot of things: perform functions, mutate content, display options, convey information, transact, or share your favorite YouTube video. It can also become an experience that moves you physically. Perhaps it just dilates a pupil, or vibrates an eardrum. But a digital interface, when taken to the extremes, can also generate big, tactile expressions. I think our Esquire Apartment and Nike Camp Victory projects reflect that, though on very different scales.

It makes sense that the things we create seem a little futuristic and sci-fi. I forget who said it, and I might be bastardizing the quote, but someone once explained that the sci-fi genre is a vision of the future that comments most heavily on the present. Our company is hell bent on thinking about what’s next while being highly critical of what’s now.

Also, sci-fi as an aesthetic has tended to make some pretty bold statements, as if to say that the future is going to be way, way, way different, so watch out. Kubrick’s sci-fi was white fluorescent. Steven Lisberger’s (Tron) was blue neon. Ridley Scott’s (Blade Runner) was dirty red. HUSH employs some similarly bold tactics. While we love the little details, the kerned type, the perfect composite, the buttery interaction, the flawless animation curve – we also really love the big, bold, visceral stuff.

Still, just because we love the physical doesn’t mean that we’ve abandoned the web. We love the web. We make work that goes on the web, or utilizes the web as a connection device, or is controlled through the web, or posts to the web. But we seem to have this additional desire to give our work a sense of place, and to revel in a moment in time. It’s a very abstract thing to know that millions of viewers have visited a site or liked a Facebook app or RT’ed a tweet. It’s cool and positive, but it’s also fleeting and intangible. Being there, being somewhere, and watching in real time as a digital and physical experience captivates someone is incredibly rewarding and also quite moving. It’s real time feedback without an intermediary – and always full of surprises.

About HUSH:
HUSH is a design agency. We design and produce digital content & experiences that are unique in creating brand recognition for our clients. We are Thinkers and Makers.
Brand Clients:
Nike, Estee Lauder, Google, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Microsoft, Honda, Hyundai, Acura, Kiehl’s, MARSH, Random House, Esquire, Hearst, Showtime, MTV, Syfy, Discovery, HBO, PBS, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, among others.