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User Preferences: Tech Q&A With Ishac Bertran

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do. The questions are always the same, the answers, not so much. This week: Ishac Bertran.

The Creators Project: Who are you and what do you do?
Ishac Bertran:
I’m Ishac Bertran, a designer from Barcelona currently living in Copenhagen. I have a background in engineering and interaction design, and I work as a design consultant, helping companies design better experiences. I like to spend time exploring and experimenting with tools and techniques in the intersection of art, technology, and design.

What hardware do you use?
I love crafting, so I use many tools for wood and metal working. I over-use the lazer cutter with any possible material. I use Arduino for its flexibility, MacBook for its reliability and because it also speaks design, and Canon 7D because it fits my hand and my needs.

What software do you use?
I like Processing both for experimental projects and to prototype certain interfaces. It doesn’t demand hardcore skills and it contributed to make me enjoy coding. I also use Lightroom for photo production and management, and eventually Flash or After Effects.

If money were no object, how would you change your current setup?
I’d be constantly travelling, developing one project in a different country, with different people each time. Money can buy better photographic gear, more powerful computers or rent a bigger space, but at the end, the creative process always starts with experimentation, inspiration or collaboration with other passionate people.

My ideal place to work would be a shared space with creative people, companies and even schools. It would have workshops to work with any kind of material and experts to help you achieve the desired results. Knowledge and inspiration would naturally flow and the synergies between the users would be a constant source for exciting projects, grounded in crafting and making the best use of technology. I imagine a sculptor finishing his piece next to an interaction designer prototyping the next generation of tablets. And a visual artist getting inspired by both of them. 3rd Ward in NYC is the place I’ve found closest to that. We’re currently trying to promote this idea in Barcelona.

What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
A simple knob that connects to any source of light, so it slows down the speed of the light. Even down to zero, like a lightsaber. I don’t know what that would imply in terms of physics, but I like to keep it naïve—I can imagine spending long nights playing with it, while kids play tag with light outside.

Is there a piece of technology that changed your life or inspired you?
When I was 12 years old at school we used the Turtle robot in computer class. It helped to bridge the gap between the abstraction of the code and reality. I think it’s a good example of a tangible educational tool that facilitated the introduction of non-tangible concepts and logic.

What’s your favorite relic piece of technology from your childhood?
I use to record sounds and listen to music with a small cassette player. I can still almost feel the great haptics of the volume knob or the play button—you could feel a whole mechanism following your finger pressing down, with subtle clicks and clacks in sync. At that time, I was probably just enjoying the music, but now I know that these are small details that made the whole experience so pleasurable.

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