PSP/RCA is a landscape of concept furniture derived from statue-like forms of people sitting, standing or leaning against walls engaged in playing the PlayStation Portable. Modelled on these popular stances taken by gamers when playing, the pieces have been made in perforated steel with sections upholstered in felt. The effect is both sculptural and machine-like.
Designers: Corinne Bacon, Matthew Brown, Manolis Kelaidis, Peter Marigold, Alan Outten and Duncan Wilson.
Photography by Tom Fecht
Each piece contains a PSP unit and users are encouraged to step inside these structures to play, the idea being to create an individual gaming experience while allowing for interaction with other gamers in other pieces using the PSP’s wi-fi capabilities.
The project was first exhibited to the public at the RCA’s galleries in December 2005 and at the
Bank of America, Habitat and the Barbican in London. Visitors had the chance to enter the figures to play against each-other and experience the enclosure’s strange level of isolation and inclusion within this environment.
The cocoon-like nature of the furniture is related to the experience of playing games on the PSP. Initial inspiration came from observing group play at a barbecue: when still light in the early evening, a group of players put their coats over their heads to create shade and see the PSP's screen better. Despite not being able to see each other at all, they continued to happily taunt, insult and otherwise interact with each other as is the norm throughout the course of a game. Later on, we observed people huddled together during play, adopting statue-like poses and postures – some sitting, some standing, some leaning – largely unaware of the party going on around them.
When the idea of units designed to intensify the experience of using the PSP began to take shape, it was thought that these units would take their styling cues from the language of furniture. Research was undertaken to indentify the most common poses adopted by users of the PSP - standing, sitting, leaning against a wall or on a ledge sitting on the floor.
Once the conceptual idea had been generated it was a question of looking at the different options of form and materials. Lifesized cardboard mock-ups of the structures were built as we perfected the design and began to look into manufacturing possibilities and restrictions.
Originally, the structures were to be upholstered with a thick felt onto a fibreglass base, in order to focus on the necessity of creating an insular environment that delivered a cocoon like enclosure around the player and blocked out exterior distraction. When manufacturing started we realised that the perforated steel’s opacity served our objective best – to encourage a shared experience while at the same time providing a degree of isolation and immersion. We decided then to upholster only a few panels in the interior to provide more comfortable use.
The whole fabrication resembled building a 3D puzzle as each piece (800 different panels) had to be cut and then joined with its neighbours at the right angles. For this we got invaluable assistance from the RCA’s Scuplture School.