MIT Knotty O logo_8027

Knotty Objects

The Media Lab at MIT has been said to “defy convention, reject norms and adore the impossible.”* Knotty Objects, the first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design, did not disappoint.

The hosts for the two-day summit in Cambridge were:

  • Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab
  • Paola Antonelli, Sr Curator Architecture & Design, MoMA
  • Neri Oxman, Designer & Architect, MIT Media Lab
  • Kevin Slavin, Entrepreneur, Artist & Digital Media Pioneer


Beginning with an evening award ceremony and an informal dinner at ICA – Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art – the vibe in the spectacular Diller Scofidio building was the perfect mix of design, technology and science smarts.

MIT Knotty O on stage_8036

The talks were held on the 6th floor at 75 Amherst in the MIT Media Lab building – an electrifying place throughout. The topics revolved around the complexity of four objects – brick, bitcoin, steak, phone – the need for audacious vision, and the importance of critical design thinking to imagine new futures vs. designing to solve human needs. In short, “design constrained to problem solving is design oversimplified”.

I left Cambridge with a fresh set of ideas to reflect on, connections to cool people and makers who I have already reconnected with, and a further calling to continue to challenge the limits of design.

What will also stay with me are these profound thoughts from a sign at the entry penned by Media Lab Founder, Nicholas Negroponte,* “how uncommon common sense is, that the medium is not the message and the need to think about the thinking.”