Be More Sensitive

Looking like something out of a William Gibson novel, these retro-futuristic foam panels pick up body heat and turn it into an image. Visual Reference Studio is based in rural Mississippi, near the Tupelo Cypress Swamp. “We live in the swamp,” says designer Erin Hayne, one of the three principals. “We used that for inspiration.” The team developed the panels, which are available in different sizes and different custom configuration, as a way to play with different materials and their specific swampy environment. Thin panels meant to be wall-mounted or thicker blocks that can be used as chairs, ottomans, or random floor decoration are available. The panels—costing $1500 and up—not only pick up body heat, they also respond to the heat of the sun, capturing shadows cast by window treatments and other heat-producing elements. The firm has been developing the panels for five months, and has even tested them out in the swamps near their studio in Madison. Yes, they float.

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