By Joe Simpson.
Today we head to LA for a few days – partly for business, partly for pleasure (although to be honest, why anyone would mind heading to the California at this time of year – thus escaping grey, snowy England – is beyond me).
We’ve made the trip several times in the past couple of years, and have come to think of the West Coast as a sort of second home. We usually discover lots of interesting stuff and meet loads of fascinating people - so we thought it was high time we started blogging on what we get up to while ‘on location’ - sharing some of the insight and experiences along the way. So over the next few days, excuse us if there's a kind of travel journal feel to the blog.
Personally, this visit centres on attending Art Center College of Art and Design’s Summit (II) – “Systems, cities and sustainable mobility”. This year’s line up is - at first sight - much less appealing and bombastic than last year’s. However, it’ll be interesting to see if Art Center manage to pull off something that’s potentially very tricky; bringing together designers, engineers, planners, architects and auto-firms to explore how they might work together in future to solve the very real problems faced by the 50 percent of the world’s population who need to move around cities every day.
What I applaud about Art Center’s approach with the Summit concept is their focus on the idea of the bigger ‘system’ of design. Talk to many people, and they’ll tell you that when it comes to certain subjects – energy, housing, automobility – the world is in need of a serious re-think.
So while the people who can make this happen are almost certainly out there already (most designers and engineers make good systems-level thinkers and problem solvers), they’re often trapped in rigid corporate environments, where their talents are focused on what Dean Kamen memorably described as “redesigning the cupholders”. In the case of some of the auto industry, perhaps ‘re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic’ is more appropriate?
Art Center’s reputation – particularly for auto design, with their alumni scattered around the world’s big brands – has the power to pull together some of these people, open their minds, and help foster new relationships and cross-disciplinary teams who might start to solve some of the issues we face. At last year's summit they clearly succeeded. Second time around, will the novelty have worn off? Stay tuned to find out.
Images: The Movement Design Bureau
Posted by Joseph Simpson on 3rd February 2008.