Product Design students from Middlesex University have created an interactive 'Listening Chair' for Grammy and Ivor Novello Award winning musician Imogen Heap, to gather the views of her fans and inspire her next song.
Fans who sit in the egg shaped chair will come face to face with a visor containing a tablet computer, camera, microphone, speakers and LED strips with a video of Imogen asking them their views on "the song that still needs to be written." Fans can then decide whether they want their contribution to be a personal message to Imogen or take a chance on it being used in the video which will accompany the song.
The British musician is known for blurring the boundaries between music and technology and her skill as a writer and producer has led to her songs featuring in films and TV shows from the 'Chronicles of Narnia' to 'The O.C.', and her music regularly sampled by young rappers and producers.
Middlesex students Rebecca Board and Sid Odedra, alongside graduate and redLoop intern (Middlesex University’s Innovation Centre) Iliyan Kukushliev created the chair under the guidance of top designer Moritz Waldemeyer and also had the chance to work with Imogen herself who visited the University to ensure the chair was exactly what she needed to inspire the creative input from fans needed for her new song.
Imogen Heap said: "I've really enjoyed working on The Listening Chair with the students at Middlesex University. They didn't have long to pull it all together, yet the attention to aesthetic and functional detail wouldn't have you think that. I loved getting to know them especially during our final push as they soldered, tested and problem solved. It was really crunch time but spirits remained high."
This is the latest in a line of high profile projects Middlesex students have worked on with Moritz Waldemeyer. Others include creating illuminated jackets for Take That, work on the video for the Ellie Goulding single 'Lights' and a video bikini for a Las Vegas show. Imogen Heap was so happy with the chair she is starting work on a new project with the students.
The students were excited to see the chair in action in London gathering the feedback that will bring Imogen Heap's next song to life. Middlesex PhD student Sid Odedra from Barnet said: "I'm pleased to hear that it's getting a good reception and that fans are enjoying the experience. It's great to have been part of that. Imogen has also been dedicated to the creation of the chair and kept in regular contact. She's really loves the chair and has been so complimentary about it. She was so thrilled with the Middlesex team that she has even invited us over to hers for dinner!"
The chair was unveiled at Sound Summit in Sydney on 25 May, featured at the Royal Festival Hall on the 16, 17 and 22 June on London's Southbank and will travel to Edinburgh this week.
The project was organised by Senior Lecturer Debbie Jedwab.
Top: Imogen Heap talks to fans about the Listening Chair
Bottom: A fan tries out the Listening Chair