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A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn | © A/D/O
A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn | © A/D/O
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A/D/O's 'Homo Sapiens, I Hear You' Series Is What We Need in 2018

Picture of Amber C. Snider
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 2 January 2018

A/D/O, Brooklyn’s newest epicenter for designers, is launching a year-long lecture series focused on human-centric design and it’s exactly what we all need to get back that creative, critical spark.

The 23,000-square-foot creative space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has been at the forefront of some of the most provocative design seminars and exhibitions this year. Now, A/D/O is taking it up another notch for 2018 with a new research program/monthly lecture series entitled “Homo Sapiens, I Hear You”. The series begins January 12th and focuses on “non-linear, non-conventional, and non-passive seminars,” where participants critically question and rethink how design succeeds or fails to meet our human needs.


A/D/O | © Amber C. Snider

Led by Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun, research director at A/D/O, the monthly series is framed around American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, which looks at human motivation in a five-tier, pyramid structure.

At the base level of Maslow’s pyramid, humans have basic physiological needs that motivate our behavior (like food, water, and shelter). Once this is achieved, the next level has to be fulfilled, which is safety. This is followed by friendship and belonging, and then self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment. The top of the pyramid is about realizing and achieving one’s creative potential. While most people fluctuate between levels due to life circumstances, each layer or level of the pyramid is a hierarchy for human growth: one can’t concentrate on creative potential if they don’t feel safe or don’t have shelter, for instance.

This psychological model for behavior, originally proposed in 1943, also provides a theoretical framework from which to examine design needs, too. 

The seminars will attempt to “unravel how human needs have developed through history and how they might continue to develop over time.” They’re about looking and planning ahead, and figuring out our most pressing, essential human needs (and how to address them) through design. 

Through a series of debates, panels, research inquiries, design installations and more, members of the public will be invited to join us at A/D/O, where they will be tasked with reimagining potential, plausible and possible future realities, while debating the issues most relevant to human nature,” says Dr. Ben Hayoun. “Along the way, we will work to reimagine our material desires and learn how to reconnect with our unconscious needs.”


© A/D/O

Seminars will range from topics on “hypnosis to how we interact with particles in the air—in an effort to propose new and alternative modes of production.” The first in the series, “Sleep With Me,” will be led by hypnotist Alexandra Janelli and filmmaker and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull (who has worked on films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Blade Runner). This first seminar will address the base of Maslow’s pyramid: psychological wellness (rest) and how design can play a role in improving sleep habits in the modern world.

“The goal of the seminars is to equip participants with better tools for understanding and leveraging design as a powerful means of challenging the current status quo,” says Dr. Ben Hayoun.

A/D/O has become an international hub for intellectual discussion, particularly over the last year. And even for those not interested in design, it’s definitely worth a visit just to see the space itself. The newly renovated, light-filled warehouse has a retail store, restaurant, workspaces, an outdoor special projects gallery which highlights large-scale works, and more. Although A/D/O is open to the public, be sure to get your tickets early – they’re known to sell out quickly.

Tickets for each 70-person seminar are $20 (or $200 for a year-long pass). Check out A/D/O’s website for more details. 

Check out Yves Behar’s principles of design from A/D/O’s design festival earlier this year here.