Design can be powerfully alluring; wielding influence over us in ways we may not even be aware of.

We talk to Space Doctors’ Malex Salamanques as she prepares to explore the fusion of seduction and design at the Cyprus Semiotics Association 2nd International Conference.

This October, Malex Salamanques will be in Limassol, Cyprus, speaking at the 2nd International Conference & Exhibition on Semiotics and Visual Communication. Organized by the Cyprus Semiotics Association together with Cyprus University of Technology, the conference will be accompanied by an Art and Design exhibition with the theme Culture of Seduction (the seduction of culture).

Malex, what is the conference about?

This will be a very captivating event; while there are several already established conferences on semiotics, this one is about semiotics AND visual communication.

It is a platform for those who have an interest in semiotics, not only from a theoretical and historical perspective, but also from an applied point of view, looking at how semiotic theory can be implemented into educational research, design and visual communication practice.

This year’s theme is The ‘Culture of Seduction’; how do you translate it as a practitioner in design semiotics?

For every designer involved in the development of the visual and structural aspects of a pack, the client brief is always the starting point, usually a good mix of constrains and contextual information to guide the development of the designs. These guidelines come from a mix of strategic objectives, consumer research, and insightful conclusions from the brand planner or managing team.

Sometimes the desired outcome will contain descriptors such as ‘modern’, ‘clean’, ‘cheerful’ and ‘sexy’; all sorts of vague and forgettable clichés as attempts to describe the look and feel of the expected outcome.

I will take a closer look to what makes a pack ‘sexy’.

How are you going to respond to the topic?

I am going to craft an illustrated journey through the packaging landscape in the UK to identify what constitutes a ‘sexy’ pack, looking to bring a critical understanding of the visual strategies behind packaging ‘desirability’ – from minimal purity right through to sensorial overload – in relation to ideas of seduction and power.

There are many examples of ‘seduction’ as a strategy in packs. I will look at structural, material and visual elements, to understand whether they are overtly communicating ‘seduction’, coming up with new ways of seducing, appealing to more intuitive ‘seduction’ or any other semiotic permutations that come to mind as long as they are mechanisms by which a pack becomes irresistible.

What will be the ideal outcome of your presentation?

I would like to open a discussion as to whether the ultimate goal of a pack should always be to seduce (some packs need to shock, or to make people think, or to initiate interaction). And why ‘seduction’ is better thought as a contextualized design strategy than as a generic product feature. I believe this conference is the perfect platform for such an exchange.

The 2nd International Conference & Exhibition on Semiotics and Visual Communication will be taking place from the 2nd to the 4th October 2015 at the Cyprus University of Technology in Cyprus.

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