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Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific – In Review – Day 3

October 7, 2010

Unlimited, Day 3…

Unlimited Symposium: Designing for the Asia Pacific

The Unlimited Symposium looked at the human, economic, climatic and strategic forces driving the Asia Pacific and asked both: “what are the conditions that will shape creative practice, business and society for tomorrow?” and “what is the role of design in responding to these forces?”

Moderated by Oliver Freeman, Director, Neville Freeman Agency and with speakers, Dr Julianne Schultz, Chair Queensland Design Council and Editor, Griffith REVIEW, Mark Ingram, Director, Business for Millennium Development, Bunker Roy, Founder, Barefoot College, Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO and Marie So, Director, Ventures in Development, the symposium got off to a flying start and a positive focus.

A few of the key notes I sifted out of the symposium included Oliver’s point that “people really want to make a difference”; Mark stating that food security will define our “food future” and this will be possible as people get personally involved; CJ Lim said “we need to appreciate the poetic essay of local, seasonal food” and that “design is about using what is already there, not having to start from scratch”. Bunker quoted Gandhi, “The earth has enough for every man’s need, but not one man’s greed” and he talked of how important women are in stablizing communities: “the most powerful communication is not the telegraph, telephone or television. It’s tell-a-woman!” (Personal favourite.) And I loved Paul’s simple approach for everything IDEO does: small x many = big / simple + tomorrow and his Pommy definition of design thinking being ” a blinding glimpse of the bleeding obvious.”

If there was one thing I was picking up through the Unlimited program so far, it was that while we have an ever increasing number of serious global issues to overcome, there are a lot of people already addressing these issues and leading by example with a ‘just do it’ approach: idea + discussion + action = real change…

Nielson Design Lecture: Sir Peter Cook

The 2010 Nielson Design Lecture was the second in a three-year program of keynote talks by international architects and designers, this year featuring architect, Sir Peter Cook.

Peter is a long standing innovative thinker and inspirational educator, being Knighted in 2007 for his service to architecture and education. His futurist visions of Britian’s built environment in his early years were underpinned by utopian technology and a classless society and his evocative drawings are renowned. One his his most well-known recent projects is the art gallery in Graz (which I posted about here), completed in 2003 with an interactive digital skin.

His lecture was very fluid and poetic, discussing his work and the way in which he sees architecture so completely embedded in the landscape that it becomes one with it. He talked about “vegetable architecture” where the landscape is “enjoyed as an anthem of beauty and theatre”; “cities of layers and incidents” referred to city ‘kiosks’ asking “where does the city stop and the architecture begin?”; and finally “non-solid architecture” with buildings “lifting up their skirts” and towers that “percolate” with the flow of air. The evening and Sir Peter’s work was summed up for me when towards the end of the lecture he shared an experience he had in a very dark, dingy, sad hotel. It literally made him sit down and start drawing a different experience, pondering, “what would happen if this building enjoyed itself?”

Wow, amazing what can happen with we approach our work with this intent… I’m truly blown away by this thought… It will stay with me forever. Thank you Sir Peter!


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