Interview with Behnaz Farahi

Behnaz Farahi is an interaction designer, architect, Annenberg Fellow, and Ph.D. candidate in Interdisciplinary Media Arts and Practice at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she is exploring the potential of interactive systems using advanced computational technologies.



Alloplastic Architecture | Design by Behnaz Farahi | Performer: Nicole Ives

ZH: Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your professional background?

I am an Interaction designer, architect, and Annenberg Fellow at the University of Southern California (USC).  I am interested in the exploration of the potential of interactive environments and their relation to the movement of the human body. In particular, I am interested in the integrated application of material behavior, and the implementation of emerging technologies in contemporary art/architecture practice.  I have an Undergraduate and two Master’s degrees in Architecture one from USC and one from Shahid Beheshti University in Iran and am now a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts and Practices at USC at the School of Cinematic Arts.

ZH: You have these amazing conceptual artworks, tell us about the source of inspiration that leads you to these breathtaking outcomes. 

The impulse behind most of my works is a desire to engage with the psychological benefits of an environment that can respond to – and therefore empathize with – human emotions through its capacity to adapt physically to the user. As such, the environment can be seen to overcome the shock or conditions of alienation by accommodating the participants/ wearer.

ZH: You have a background in Architecture, What kind of architecture in particular interests you? 

I am trained as an architect, and architecture as a discipline interests me. In particular, I am fond of the work of Zaha Hadid, Diller + Scofidio, Frank Gehry, Tom Mayne, Nader Tehrani, and Farshid Moussavi.
But my work is not limited to straight architecture. In this era, we are once again in a situation similar to the Renaissance in that all disciplines are merging together thanks to the development of new technologies that are breaking down the barriers between different disciplines. This is actually crucial since it would allow multi-interdisciplinary approaches in design/ architecture/ fashion/ sculpture/ engineering and science. I am therefore also interested in an emerging group of architects whose practices open up to other disciplines. These would include Neri Oxman, Skylar Tibbits, Philip Beesley, Greg Lynn.

ZH: Another field of art that you incorporate into your work is Fashion. What is interesting about relating to Architecture and Fashion? And why do you choose Fashion? 

I am trying to look at fashion from a different point of view – looking at fashion as a second skin or near ‘environment’ around our body, which defines intimacy, distance and so much more. My works address the potential of a reciprocal transformation between the user and a fashion/ architectural element, whereby the environment can influence the user, but equally the user can also influence the environment.  It also engages with a series of interdisciplinary challenges, ranging from a technological grasp of how such environments might be able to change morphologically to a psychological and neurological grasp of how human beings might themselves respond to those changes, and become active agents in remodeling and redesigning those environments.


Breathing Wall 2.0 | Design by Behnaz Farahi | Photo by Ramtin Khah


Breathing Wall 2.0 | Design by Behnaz Farahi | Photo by Ramtin Khah

ZH: Do you see yourself as more of an Architect? Fashion Designer? Or Transhumanist? 

I am doing my Ph.D. in interdisciplinary Media Art and Practices, I strongly believe in the essence of multidisciplinary work in which the boundaries between all disciplines can be blurred.


In collaboration with ZH media