I was first exposed to Hiroshi Ishii’s work last year thanks to Austin Lee, my studio professor at the time. As a professor for the environments track for the school of design, Austin showed us Hiroshi’s work as a way to help communicate what environments design means. His work helps create harmony between digital and physical interactions and environments.

Being able to see and meet Hiroshi Ishii after studying his work was a wonderful experience. After discovering his passionate, inspirational, and whimsical attitude towards education and design, his work brought on a new life. Hearing him speak helped me not only understand his work better, but also to look at new technology, art and design differently. I think we are often caught up in the technical power of a piece that we often dismiss work as a tech demo rather than a simple art piece.  For instance, with his Levitation piece, when I first saw it a year ago, I was in awe of the technology, but now after hearing Hiroshi talk, I see it in a new light. His work gives off the impression that it is magic, and I think this shows that we often take technology for granted.

Perhaps what resonated with me the most during his talk was when he argued about the boundaries between art, design, philosophy, and computer science. He told us not to label these disciplines, or ourselves, because labels tell the world what you are not, just as much as they say what you are. These fields live together and survive because of one another. I enjoyed how he used verbs to identify when to optimize each field: Envision (art and philosophy), embody (design and technology), and inspire (art and aesthetics).

Additionally, I really appreciated his comments on friendship and collaboration. I think that this is one of the greatest skills I have acquired from the school of design. My closest friends are the one who critique the hardest, push me the furthest, and challenge me the most. I also respect that even as successful as he is, he is still humble and takes a significant amount of time to recognize those who have helped him along the way. As the world, particularly in America at the moment, feels more divided than ever, I appreciate that Hiroshii emphasizes the importance of friendship and collaboration.