Elio Caccavale

Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame, Artist


Elio Caccavale was born in 1975 in Naples, Italy. He studied Product Design at Glasgow School of Art before going on to the Royal College of Art to complete a Masters degree in Design Products.

His research investigates design, life sciences and bioethics partnerships, with particular emphasis upon collaborative research methods. His projects include, Utility Pets, a series of speculative products investigating the ethical consequences of xenotransplantation - the transplantation of animal organs into humans (2003); MyBio, a collection of educational soft toys exploring social, cultural, and personal responses to the strange and different in human biology and in possible transhuman creatures (2005); Neuroscope, an interactive toy linked to a culture of brain cells, which are cared for in a distant laboratory (2008); and Future Families, a collection of speculative products investigating social, cultural and ethical issues surrounding assisted conception and surrogacy (2011).

Elio has contributed to research projects supported by Wellcome Trust, Art Council England and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He is co-author of Design as Future-Making published by Bloosmbury, a book which explore how design draws on and informs disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, anthropology, political science, and psychology and Creative Encounters published by the Wellcome Trust, a book that explores the many opportunities and questions provided and prompted by collaborations between artists, designers, educators and scientists.

He is design studio leader on the MDes Design Innovation at the Glasgow School of Art. In addition, he has been visiting professor at the Polytechnic of Milan and holds an honorary professorship at Hubei University of Technology. Prior to joining Glasgow School of Art, he was co-founder and director of the MSc in Product Design at the University of Dundee. He has held lecturing positions at the Royal College of Art, Staatliche Hochschule fur Gestaltung Karlsruhe, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Architectural Association, Metropolitan University and research positions at Newcastle University in the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, Reading University in the School of System Engineering (Cybernetics) and Imperial College in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

Elio regularly presents at conferences internationally and his work has been exhibited extensively, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Design Museum (Triennale) in Milan, the Science Museum in London, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Tapei, the Design and Applied Arts Museum in Lausanne, the Royal Institution in London and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. His work is in the permanent collection of MoMA in New York and has been published by Phaidon, Thames & Hudson, Die Gestalten Verlag dgv, MIT Press and Centre Pompidou.

Elio is the founder of Elio Caccavale Design Studio, a design studio working across a wide variety of projects, including product design, interaction design, ethnography and forecasting research. The studio has worked with a wide portfolio of clients including Mattel, Dmagic Mobile China, Orange, French Telecom, PBJ Japan and LG Electronics (Bolton Associates).

More info: www.eliocaccavale.com

Elio Caccavale takes part in the Telepresent Animal Exhibition, February to May 2014.

Utility Pets

The Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame

Utility Pets is an experimental project that uses products to draw attention to the ethical consequences of xenotransplantation – the transplantation of animal organs into humans.

In the not-so-distant future, Elio Caccavale imagines that shortly after birth, people will be given a piglet with their own DNA engineered into it. The pig, known as a “knockout” pig in the scientific jargon, is a form of living insurance policy – an organ bank. This project explores what kind of new objects might be needed if the pig lives in the home with its owner’s family.

The Utility Pet products include a low- resolution TV exclusively for pigs, which they can control themselves; a pig toy with a microphone and a radio handset allowing the owner to listen to the pig enjoying itself; a smoke-filtering device allowing a person to smoke in front of the pig without it suffering the consequences of passive smoking; and a comforter – a psychological product made from the snout of the sacrificed pig, which serves as a memento after the xenotransplantation has been carried out, and helps people come to terms with the contradictory feelings generated by this complex situation.

Notable Works

Elio Caccavale on Utility Pets

Interview with Elio Caccavale (Italian)