The built environment, and architecture at its core, shapes the city more than anything. Architecture (beyond pure provision of shelter) defines our sense of context, it imposes ideas and ideals, it creates cohesion or alienation, and sometimes dystopia. In many ways, how architecture affects us as we navigate the city is an inadvertent byproduct of the process of designing, constructing, programming a building. Strangers to the creator's intentions and convictions, we are left with only walls to look at - the façade. For most buildings that we encounter, the façade is the only interface of exchange, the only opportunity for us to learn about a structure’s history, use, significance. Ettore Sottsass, the Italian architect and designer, in his work on patterns and textures, gave great importance to the surface of objects - understanding it as the skin and the site for sensual and emotional stimulation. Using the same analogy, Sensible Surfaces investigates the façade, the skin of a building and asks: What can we understand, relate to, and feel?
Johan Schwind is a German-Canadian Industrial Designer and Photographer who is based in New York City. His work in design and photography is deeply connected to the city as mankind’s most compelling but also most complicated habitat. As a designer, he mentors and supports startups that are working on improving cities through technology and design, helping them to build city-scale solutions in the fields of mobility, energy and real estate. His photographic work employs a designer’s mindset with the goal to minimalize the visual stimuli of urban environments to reveal volumes, surfaces, lines and textures that are otherwise overlooked and unnoticed.