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 briefly introduce yourself and your professional journey?

I’m an Interaction Designer and Architect, currently serving as an Annenberg Fellow at the University of Southern California (USC). My primary focus is understanding the interplay between interactive environments and human body movement. This entails a keen interest in melding material behavior with emerging technologies, especially within contemporary art and architecture. My academic credentials span an undergraduate degree and two Master’s in Architecture – one from USC and another from Shahid Beheshti University in Iran. Presently, I’m deepening my research as a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts and Practices at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

ZH:  Your conceptual artworks are genuinely captivating. Could you delve into the inspiration behind such striking creations?

My work is primarily driven by the aspiration to understand and harness the psychological advantages of adaptive environments. I envision spaces that can respond to and resonate with human emotions, adjusting physically to the individual’s needs. This adaptability can bridge the estrangement gap, creating a harmonious setting accommodating participants or wearers.

ZH: Given your background in Architecture, are there specific styles or architects that resonate with you?

While I have a foundational education in architecture, the broader spectrum of the discipline truly captivates me. Architects like Zaha Hadid, Diller + Scofidio, Frank Gehry, Tom Mayne, Nader Tehrani, and Farshid Moussavi have mainly influenced my appreciation for the field.
However, we are at a pivotal moment reminiscent of the Renaissance, where the boundaries of disciplines are becoming fluid, thanks to groundbreaking technological advancements. This shift enables a convergence of design, architecture, fashion, sculpture, engineering, and science, promoting multi-disciplinary approaches. I’m also drawn to forward-thinking architects like Neri Oxman, Skylar Tibbits, Philip Beesley, and Greg Lynn, who seamlessly integrate other disciplines into their practices.

ZH: You intertwine Fashion with your work, which traditionally stands distinct from Architecture. What fascinates you about this intersection between Architecture and Fashion? Why the emphasis on Fashion in your exploration?

I perceive Fashion as clothing and an intimate environment – almost like a second skin that surrounds our bodies and dictates boundaries, proximities, and so much more. My work explores the dynamic interaction between the wearer and the architectural aspects of Fashion. It delves into how the user and vice versa can influence an environment. This symbiotic relationship encapsulates not only technological challenges, like how garments can morph in response to stimuli, but also psychological and neurological ones. It investigates how individuals react to these changes and how they can actively participate in reshaping those interactive 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: Would you categorize yourself primarily as an Architect, Fashion Designer, or Transhumanist?

While pursuing a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary Media Art and Practices, my core belief lies in the power of multidisciplinary collaboration. Rigid labels are less significant as I venture into realms where the boundaries among various disciplines seamlessly intertwine and dissolve.


In collaboration with ZH media