Nameless Object #3: Undercover

The Undercover is a record and playback device for audio messages. Only the persons who know how to fold the quilt properly, can tell it her own hidden secrets, or make it repeat them. The technique of assembling small fabric patches to large blankets by creating complex patterns was perfected in rural North America. Even back then, Quilts that hung outside to dry were supposedly used to reveal secret shelters to fugitive slaves.

The patchwork pattern of the Undercover indicates how the patches on the upside should be folded towards each other to make the quilt work. Sewn-in magnets make the electronic contact. According to the folding, the quilt records one of eight sound samples or replays it. The folding and crumpling of the fabric is in this case the interaction that exploits the fabric qualities at best. The coding of the usage into the patchwork pattern reinterprets the patchwork technique in a functional way. And of course you can still have picnic on it.

Video to the Undercover

Particular folding patterns are indicated in the patchwork pattern.

When the blanket is unfolded, the folding pattern is not obvious.


Strange Shapes and Unexpected Forms

Bredies, Katharina. 2015. Strange Shapes and Unexpected Forms: New Technologies, Innovative Interfaces and Design-in-Use. Design Issues. 31, 1 (2015), 48–52.

Gebrauch als Design

Bredies, Katharina. 2014. Gebrauch als Design. Über eine unterschätzte Form der Gestaltung. Transcript.

Designing for Utilization

Kassenaar, Paula, Bredies, K. and van der Hoven, E. 2011. Designing for Utilization: Putting Design Principles into Practice. Making Design Matter. Proceedings of the 4th Nordic Design Research Conference (Helsinki, Finland, 2011), 324–329.