Conversation with Bart Eysink Smeets

During the Milan Design week I run into the project A.A.D. by Bart Eysink Smeets. Basically a fake character can be used in several different situations instead of a real one. I got so impressed that I asked Bart to explain a bit his project with a short interview.

Artificial Atmosphere Design is a project that is able to make you think about the juxtaposition of fake and real. It reminds me somehow Plato’s cave where lights and shadows create an artificial reality which seems to be real but it’s not.
The thing is that now you are turning upside down this idea, and suggesting to use something artificial which seems to be much more effective of something real.

Q. Can you please explain a little bit more in details how did you come up with this fascinating concept?

A. People have been choosing the fake over the real for a long time already. Think about fake flowers, taste enhancers, handwriting fonts and the whole porn industry.
This is an interesting fenomenon. Because, for example, fake flowers are made to give your house more character, while they are made of the most character-less material. In a way they are more perfect than real flowers, but it is that perfectness that makes it a bit creepy. I wanted to enlarge this effect, by making a perfect friend.


Q. Are we really able to feel the difference between the presence of a real character or a fake one? And also are we sure that a real character can be better the the real?

A. In an amazing film about a real-doll (a lifelike woman made of silicone), Lars and the Real Girl, Lars has a relationship with a plastic woman. She is in a lot of ways more perfect than a real woman. It is the imperfections that we like about the real. Sometimes we forget that.
There have been studies on street safety, and than specific on the feeling of safety. It shows that people physically react as much to fake stuff (pictures of people, nature, eyes) as to the real. Even when they know it’s fake.


Q. I think that there are endless situations where you can use an A.A.D, besides the ones represented on your website, can you suggest another situation?

A. The ones on my website are there to show that when you use something artificial to give a situation more atmosphere, most of the time it only shows the lack of atmosphere.
But when there is no other choice you could actually use A.A.D. for real. Like elderly homes, dark railway stations, big hotel lobby’s, governments, business meetings, etcetera.

Q. Are you working on other projects like this at the moment?

A. I am working on a big hotel in the middle of Amsterdam now which used to be a newspaper building. I’m going to make A.A.D.-like statues of the old genators and cleaning ladies. So there is already people there before it’s opened.
I also just finished a project in which I created my own merchandise. Just to show the uselessness of everything, but also showing that uselessness doesn’t have to be bad. It’s a project that people hate or love. I like that. Check it out on

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