Which of these will be the bigger issue in 2008?
What will 2007 be remembered for? The iPhone? The explosion of Facebook? The year that sustainability went mainstream? The year I got on a plane more times than I ever have before – at a time when almost everyone else was desperately trying to fly less? Whatever your abiding memory of 2007, I sincerely hope you had a good festive period, and would like to wish everyone a happy new year.
Despite only being away for ten days or so, it feels like I've been cut off from the world for much longer – and much was still happening at the back end of 2007 in the world of movement, design, technology and sustainability. So here's a quick round up of news and ideas which were kicking around at the back end of 2007, and which we might look forward to in 2008.
Concern over the environment seems to be continuing unabated into the new year – the latest phenomenon to be experienced due to climate change apparently being “solastalgia” – a form of homesickness one experiences at home, caused by pining for a lost environment. It’s something that philosopher Glenn Albrecht – who came up with the idea – is seeing a lot of in his fellow Australians – who are experiencing the country’s worst drought ever.
These will be gonzo come 2009, get 'em while you can...
As if to show that 2008 might be where the climate ‘backlash’ begins, Lionel Schriver (author of the award winning book ‘We need to talk about Kevin’) used her Guardian column to talk about how she’s going to spend most of the coming year stockpiling incandescent lightbulbs, before they’re banned by the EU from 2009. But perhaps hope will come - as often - from the innovative Dutch, who are now planning on using the heat they’re collecting from their roads (yes, those things you drive on) not just to de-ice them in winter, but to heat and cool houses too. Talking about Holland and looking forward to 2008, the "Joyriding" exhibition currently being held by Platform21 in Amsterdam is worthy of your attention – and I’ll be part of a panel giving a talk there about 'joyriding' - moving through space in vehicles, and the affect design has on that experience - on the evening of the 16th January should you happen to be in Amsterdam and fancy coming and heckling!
Mark spent much of 2007 exploring and getting involved with open source projects, communities, and new open, collaborative networks. That trend looks set to continue in 2008 – and it’s interesting to see that the first open source, community-driven search engine - Wikia - is about to launch. But some are predicting that the open-social network phenomenon might go pop in 2008. It’s amongst Businessweek’s prediction’s for 2008 – well to be more precise, what they’re terming “facebook fatigue”, along with a late run by Bloomberg for president, the end of CDs, and the aforementioned green crisis/backlash.
Obviously one of the biggest events of 2008 will be the American presidential elections, and with the Iowa caucuses about to commence, Bruce Nussbaum has a look at where the candidates stand on innovation. The buzz around ‘innovation’ continues, with more space than ever before seeming to be dedicated to it in the press. One recent interesting article on the subject by Janet Rae Dupree – who by coincidence we met at a party in San Francisco last year – explores how an individual’s ability to innovate drops as their experience and knowledge grows – and why this happens.
For the doubters who don't think GM will actually make the concept Chevy Volt real, here's one in a windtunnel...
I’m interested to see whether 2008 will be the year that electric cars finally come of age. Everyone who I’ve met recently seems to have started to doubt the technology – no doubt reinforced by Tesla’s continued inability to deliver its Roadsters to customers (ironically, it’s a transmission problem and nothing to do with the batteries or power management). But in 2008 Th!nk should start to deliver their new Th!nk city cars, underpinned by an innovative notion of selling customers the car while leasing them the battery that powers it. Westfield, the British sports car company, have launched a competition to design the body of the car for the world’s first one make electric car race series – which should boost the popularity of the propulsion method. In addition, at the end of last year, Pininfarina announced plans to build their own electric car before the end of the decade, while GM have opened a new 'E-flex' design studio dedicated entirely to the development of electric and hybrid vehicles – the first product of which will be the production version of the Chevy Volt, probably in about 2010.
No doubt some of these subjects will be picked up on at Art Center’s Summit 2008 : Systems, Cities and Sustainable mobility, which we’ll be attending. Dave Myers and Geoff Wardle put together a great event last year, and we’re hoping for big things again this year. We’ll be reporting on it here – and with more of a focus on car design over on Car Design News – in early February.
It’s sure to be another turbulent year in the automotive world, but it’s nice to see that 2008 has got off on a positive note with the news that Bertone has not gone to the wall – saved from Bankruptcy at the last minute by Gruppo Prototipo.
Finally, it was saddening to hear that one of the greats of the design world – Ettore Sottsass – died over the Christmas period, at his home in Milan, aged 90. The design world will be a lesser place without him. RIP.
Posted by Joseph Simpson on 3rd January 2008