Pianococktail and the convergence of artifacts

Le pianococktail An intriguing encounter this afternoon with a pianococktail, i.e. a piano that mixes drinks based on the combination of keys played. Being a reader of Boris Vian, running across this crazy object he described in his novel “L’ecume des Jours” ("Froth on the Daydream") is always a pleasure. The one I saw this afternoon has been designed by Géraldine and Nicolas Schenkel in Geneva.

Here's how Vian explains how the device works:

"For each note there’s a corresponding drink – either a wine, spirit, liqueur or fruit juice. The loud pedal puts in egg flip and the soft pedal adds ice. For soda you play a cadenza in F sharp. The quantities depend on how long a note is held – you get the sixteenth of a measure for a hemidemisemiquaver; a whole measure for a black note; and four measures for a semibreve. When you play a slow tune, then tone comes into control to prevent the amounts growing too large and the drink getting too big for a cocktail – but the alcoholic content remains unchanged. And, depending on the length of the tune, you can, if you like, vary the measures used, reducing them, say, to a hundredth in order to get a drink taking advantage of all the harmonics, by means of an adjustment on the side."

Le pianococktail

Why do I blog this? sunday encounter with a curious object that corresponds to the absurd convergence of two very different artifacts. The idea of mixing distinct functions in one object is an interesting innovation process but it's sometimes more poetic and intriguing to do it with very distant class of objects.

As a general exercise to envision alternative near future worlds, it would be good to think about similar convergence between very remote objects. Making two functions converge is a difficult purpose. This example reminds me of a talk by Ben Fullerton at interaction 2010 in which he described a project he worked on at IDEO forBang&Olufsen: a music player that was also a phone, as opposed to a a phone that would also be a music player. This kind of approach is inspring IMHO as it forces to rethink the role of the two objects in very different ways.