Michaël Harboun

This is the translation of an article written originally in french by Yasmine Tashk that appeared in the paper version of KSAT


Michaël is from Luxembourg and studied in Paris. He currently lives in Chicago where he works for IDEA, a design and innovation consulting firm. The notion of design in the US is much broader than the one in France where most of people limit it to chairs and tables. « In the US, one can be a business designer or a strategic designer which embrace much more things. It concerns more the conception phase ». To illustrate the work of IDEO, Michaël points out that they are the one who created the first mouse of Apple. This type of firm starts to develop progressively and to and emerge in France.

After getting interested in 2D design, Michael quickly moves to 3D graphics, to finally shift towards interaction design, where the interesting is not only the object in space but also in time.  He starts then to get interested in the relationship between machines and Humans.


Two different process of creation and reflection take part in his everyday life. For his job work he is in a group dynamic where everyone share idea and each idea build up on top of the other one. « It’s a very fast and stimulating brainstorming. » Regarding his personal projects, he like to medidate and think for a long time before he starts. These two different approaches are complementary. In his work, future is observed in a more pragmatic way, they are more interested in a close and achievable future. That’s why he takes advantage of his personal projects to imagine a far future and how it could be.  I notice that, as James Auger, what interest him mostly is to raise questions through his projects that are the result of thoughts rather than a representation of a solution.

When we take a look at the eccentric inventions that have been invented in the past (flying cars, food in form of pills etc…), we notice that the impact of Internet on our society couldn’t be anticipated. It’s the real futuristic revolution. It has shaken up the traditional  relationship towards one another throughout the world. Starting from there and from the evolution towards a miniaturization of technologies, – from an ordinateur that was taking many rooms to one that can fit in your pocket – we notice that we are close to the introduction of technological devices in the human body. Even if that can sound chocking right now, evolution is ON. Indeed, 30 years ago we could have been surprised by the way people exhibit their private life on the social networks, but now, most of the people are used to it and embraced the phenomenon. Therefore it could be a possible evolution to see technologies in the human bodies in the form of a prosthesis or else and we wouldn’t be surprise. A down side to point out would be the lost of control on your own body.

Michael imagined a futuristic kitchen : Living Kitchen. It looks like  a simple plain wall that is interactive. It would behave like a kitchen assistant that will take the shape of the needs of the user. His idea was to create a futuristic furniture while focusing on the traditional and central room of the house. At a time where everything is getting smaller, it’s not the size that is interesting but the use of the object.


In the project Trancendenz, he created glasses that allows us to have a different sight on the world and stimulate our curiosity by suggesting themes of analysis and thoughts that leads to meditation. This idea came to him while realising that we had less and less of « empty time ». Technologies grabs all of our attention and we don’t really take the time to think deeply about things anymore. « We are more and more connected but less and less with ourselves » he says.  This project was a possible answer to this problem to allow people to reconnect with their inner world. « The overload flow of information that we face right now manages to not let you look for inspiration and rather it forces itself to you. » Technologies will be here to handle this overload of information.

Michaël imagine a future where technologies will stay a tool and where we won’t need them to dream.


Michaäl Harboun’s website

Michaël nous parle de son environnement de travail

Mon environment de travail change constamment car j’ai fréquemment déménagé ces dernières années.
Même ici à Chicago je n’ai pas vraiment d’environnement de travail car je suis toujours à la recherche d’un appart!

Donc je considère mes carnets de note comme mon espace de travail. Je les ai toujours avec moi, où que je sois et j’y élabore toutes mes idées.
J’écris plus que je dessine. L’écriture fait d’avantage appel à l’imagination car elle ne montre rien. Le dessin fige prématurément les idées en images.

Les plus fortes inspirations me viennent en regardant le ciel.
Prendre conscience de notre éphémérité dans l’univers et qu’il nous reste tant à découvrir me stimule à chercher toujours plus loin.
Contempler sur l’origine de l’univers et sur l’épopée humaine m’inspirent à imaginer les choses en grand.
Je ressens la création comme un acte de méditation, dans lequel je tente de me libérer des influences externes afin de connecter avec les principes qui me sont proches.
Ces principes me guident et créent la base sur laquelle je construis mes idées.

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