Flora Lechner and Cristina-Sorina Stângaciu


The automotive industry holds immense significance in Timișoara and Romania, ranking as the 4th largest automotive manufacturing nation in the European Economic Community. While the industry is often viewed from economic and engineering perspectives, the human-car relationship is one of the oldest and most intimate in modern technology. Beyond efficiency, cars serve as motivators for design, with the automotive industry fostering innovations like video processing for autonomous driving, real-time embedded systems, and smart sensing.

‘Synthia’ is a design installation exploring the dynamics of design and control in the relationship between humans and cars. Synthia is equipped with sensors for interaction and communication with her visitors, who can explore her creative genesis through videos, images, and text. By equating sensors in self-driving cars to human senses, ‘Synthia’ draws attention to the signals that pass between humans and our tools, creating hybrid bodies and prosthetic senses. Portraying the car’s structure as a muscular human body both anthropomorphises cars and acknowledges the human desire for automobile attributes.

Using material fabulation to repurpose these automobile sensors — originally designed for marketability and optimisation — signals how our design and relationship with cars could be very different.  

Full video: Synthia. Courtesy of the designer

The embedded sensors were developed at DSPLabs Research Laboratory, Politehnica University of Timișoara, Computer and Information Department, in collaboration with Mihai Micea, Valentin Stângaciu, Răzvan Cioargă, Bogdan Simion, Andrei Ionescu, Victor Alexandru Toporan, Roberta Georgiana Izabela Tomegea, Daniel Prejban, Ștefan Chisăliță.


Flora Lechner is an interdisciplinary practitioner who combines art, design, and performance to observe the power relations between bodies, objects, and spaces. She is particularly interested in the human and creative tendency to seek divine perfection.

Cristina-Sorina Stângaciu is a lecturer and a research engineer at the Computer and Information Technology Department of Politehnica University of Timișoara. Her research areas include embedded and real-time hardware-software systems, the Internet of Things, and power management in embedded devices.