José de la O

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Full Time Professor / Director Studio

Monterrey Institute of Technology

Studio José de la O

José de la O earned an Industrial Design Bachelor Degree at Iberoamericana University in México City and and a Masters Degree on Conceptual Design on Context at Design Academy Eindhoven. After finishing at Design Academy studies, he founded Studio José de la O, in the City of Eindhoven in 2010, and relocated to his hometown Mexico City.

Studio José de la O is a research based design studio focused on innovation and product design, working for international companies, educational institutions and other creative agencies. The studio is a proud member of Reach, a global network of agencies specializing in human-centred design research and service innovation. During his time in The Netherlands, Jose de la O has been a guest lecturer at the Design Academy Eindhoven and speaker at Open Designism, Care Cross Café and Mediamatic. Later in México, he performed as a Speaker at several design events such as Design Decode, Factor Clave (ITESM Campus Querétaro), Oxymoron (ITESM Campus Monterrey), Cisibero (Universidad Iberoamericana, México City), among others. He had taught Industrial Design at Universidad Centro and Universidad Iberoamericana in México City.

Currently, he is a full time professor at the Monterrey Institute of Technology teaching and generating research work on how to bring design closer to society. His work has been exhibited in Ventura Lambrate during the Milan Design Week, Inside Design Amsterdam, Dutch Design Week, “Fábrica Mexicana” in the MAM in México City, The Future Perfect in New York, the Design Museum in Taipei, the Shanghai Museum of Glass, MKG Hamburg, Maison Objet,  and countless design exhibitions in México.


Speculative Assimilations:  

Using Speculative Design as an academic tool to assimilate technology and provoke alternative viewpoints on aesthetics, culture and identity in the developing world.

As speculative Design has been used as a tool for creating new dialogues on the impact that emerging technologies would create on society, the way that these dialogues gave been taken, have also been questioned. As aesthetic influences like Afrofuturism have helped to inspire alternative ways on seeing technology, away from, as Paolo Caridini famously puts it as “the shiny white plastic”, more and more designers from different socio economic sectors want to be involved in this conversation.

But for them to be active participants, Designers not only have to use technology on their designs but conceive it. Just applying an aesthetic style to something that dreams to be technological (like Afrofuturism) is not enough. Designers must not only adapt to technology, but appropriate it and generate new schemes where technology and everyday life intersect. This is one reason why, apart of their technological savviness, Designers must have a deep understanding on their own context, especially when cities in Mexico have been continually facing increasingly complex challenges, spanning issues like mobility, security, gender equity and public space. Design has sought to constantly solve this type of complex solutions, but for some reason these solutions have not permeated into society.

What is striking in Mexico, is that most design schools here still teach design with the same values and goals as in 20 years, ignoring the way technology works today and the way it would clash with culture. As a scholar on Industrial Design, José de la O sees, with great concern, that Design is being thought the same way as when he was a student. It is well known that industrial design has had to adapt to the fact that everyday objects do not only exist in a physical context, but, also in a digital one, having this double life where they capture, analyze or respond to external data through electronic sensors. All of these might sound like yesterday’s news for any product designer elsewhere in the world, but this is not as vivid in the Mexican context. Design schools in Mexico, neglect aspects like programing, physical computing and critical thinking, essential skills to design on an hyperconnected world. The way most designers use technology in Mexico, is similar as the way “maquila” culture tackles innovation: just replicating ideas generated somewhere else, no question asked. Without a profound participative role in technology can lead into an increasing disparity, not only between Designers, but people in developing countries and it’s more developed counterparts.

How can Design schools cope with these challenges? José believes Speculative Design is a great academic tool to not only create incentives in students to learn and apply technology, but also to provoke alternative viewpoints from aesthetics, culture and identity.