Working at the intersection of fashion, architecture and interactive design - Behnaz is certainly one to practice what she preaches.
“I’m truly interdisciplinary. Sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way - I fall into the cracks. I strongly think the boundaries between different disciplines don’t make sense anymore.”
Identifying as a designer and creative technologist who is trained as an architect, Behnaz - who believes separation between head and heart can be ‘problematic’ - is passionate about bringing critical thinking and practical making together to spark conversation around contentious social issues.
“I call it critical making; exploring the discourses that relate to human existence from psychology to neuroscience to philosophy to design and making. If we could engage with emerging technologies, we can highlight emotion, human interaction and social, political and cultural issues in a tangible way.”
The PhD graduate’s impressive portfolio includes Mesolite - an emotive display that highlights how smart technologies can foster a bond with human beings (commissioned by global giant Adidas) and Caress of the Gaze - a 3D-printed wearable that detects human eye contact and moves in response, to address social issues of intimacy, gender and personal identity.
Featured in the likes of Wired, BBC, CNN and The Guardian, Behnaz has won various accolades including Fast Company Innovation By Design Linda Tischler Award and the World Technology Award. Inspired by industry-shaper Zaha Hadid - ‘not just by her amazing designs but by the way she challenged disciplinary and gender assumptions’ - the now-Californian feels most alive when she’s surfing and ‘interacting with the fluidity of the forces all around’.
And when it comes to the pursuit of happiness, the pioneer starts within.
“It’s not about what you want, it’s how you feel about what you already have. That’s the difference. People look externally and think - if they had this, or achieved that… but it’s inside you. It sounds a little cliche but I think it’s a journey of realisation of what matters for each of us independently and where you’re at in that journey. Happiness and excitement is what moves us forward.”
We have a feeling Behnaz Farahi will move many things forward.