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Get out of comfort zone for innovation: Lovegrove

[Herald Design Forum 2016]

Get out of comfort zone for innovation: Lovegrove

In a world where new products and technology are being introduced every day, a Welsh industry designer challenged the idea of modernity, suggesting a new perspective of returning to the fundamentals.


Speaking at the 6th Herald Design Forum held Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Ross Lovegrove, the designer of Sony’s Walkman cassette player, asked some fundamental questions concerning design and humanity to the audience of some 800 people.


Ross Lovegrove speaks at the Herald Design Forum 2016 held at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)


Lovegrove, who originally studied cooking, explained that he became fascinated by how food was transformed through the application of heat. At the forum, he introduced some raw materials that he works with, such as aluminum, carbon, oil and copper.


“Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and useful. Sand comes from microorganisms and it is incredible how it transforms into the most transparent object -- glass,” he said. “It’s about how we amplify the usages of such materials. Alignment of technology with material is the next step of optimization.”


The discussion of materials reflected Lovegrove’s concerns for the Earth and the environment.


“No Earth, no humans. No humans … and it’s pretty happy Earth. It is the matter of how to find balance between them,” he said.


“Nature had millions of years to get to the current status (through evolution). ... While all the other species adapt, we humans don’t adapt to, but make the environment adapt to us.”


In today’s society where there is a big desire for evolution and innovation, Lovegrove urged designers to think about the core values.


“Design should go back to instincts. I don’t see many people who follow their true gut instincts. … Designers should be problem solvers.”


He added that designers would truly develop their instincts again when they come out of their comfort zones.


Ross Lovegrove speaks at the Herald Design Forum 2016 held at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)


Lovegrove urged designers to think of convergence of art, design and technology to truly pursue “evolution,” giving the example of 3-D printers: It would allow one a chance to return to the fundamentals and find customized objects that they can use with full efficiency.


For the audience, he also defined the term “early-adapter,” describing them as those who use resources wisely. They are people who are fully informed about what is important and efficient. “Early-adapters would buy their groceries from markets without packaging. Don’t be fooled by what looks modern and what is actually modern.”


From machines such as the Walkman cassette player, which evokes nostalgia in the older generation, to everyday objects such as chairs and shoes, Lovegrove touched on many objects that would “innovate” the lives of people.


“I’m a translator of advanced materials and technologies into artifacts that project a new vision of our future. I’m interested to design in the most contemporary way I can.”


The 58-year-old designer looks forward to designing Virtual Reality Goggles, neural devices, autonomous cars and even spacecraft. “These are my dreams, not to replicate the past but put form to the future.”


By Jo He-rim (