KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Oct 13 2010

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A shot of adrenaline

photos by Audra Melton

When heading to the Cusp Conference 2010, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it very much as I had been quite busy before hand with travel and work. I was exhausted and I am pretty sure the shadows from bags under my eyes scared the child next to me on the plane. My brain was fuzzy and it felt like I needed a long nap (and maybe a few glasses of tequila). Or so I thought.

As I sat down in the audience I was immediately jolted out of my myopic comfort zone and into a world of new ideas from dramatically varying fields.

There was Jay Parkinson MD, a doctor who co-founded HelloHealth and is reinventing the patient/doctor relationship with a facebook-ish approach to an online service. He is using communication technology and social media to make the process more efficient with less red tape, resulting in higher quality and less quantity. There is certainly something to be learned here in thinking about the green prefab home process.

Another favorite Cusp friend was Natalia Allen, founder of Design Futurist, who shared stories of her work in the sustainable and high-tech clothing world for clients such as Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. No gimmicks. No greenwashing. Sustainability with style. People in the audience were drooling.

And then there was Whitney Hopkins who spoke on Biomimicry (one of my favorite topics). Her talk on nature-inspired design included basic principles that apply to many types of work, including architecture, such as doing more with less, letting forms do work (learning from shark skins), using single blocks to make complex results (such as learning from leaves when creating a new type of solar panel), benign manufacturing (using sea shells as inspiration for ways to manufacture ceramics), nothing is wasted, and designing for flexibility (learning from bull kelp when inventing new types of building foundations that allow movement). We are using paint that is self-cleaning, using the Lotus plant for inspiration. This is just scratching the surface. There is still so much to learn from and invent.

I spoke on “The Home 2.0″ and using the housing meltdown as an invitation (and requirement) for reinvention.

Thinking about the potential overlaps and blending of some of these ideas with work in the accessible, sustainable architecture world, my mind re-awoken, visualizing possibilities. It is in these intersections that there are the most interesting opportunities.

This, of course, is what the conference has as a mission. For over 15 years the TED conference blends different fields of study together resulting in the most fascinating discussions. The founder of TED, Richard Saul Wurman, was the highlight of my Cusp conference experience.

An architect, award-winning writer of a gazillion books, and creator of the most interesting conference experiences (including his current work with TEDMED), Richard shared his thoughts and experiences. He is an amazing thinker, having accomplished so many things in so many different arenas. And he isn’t even close to stopping. Spending some time with him at first made me feel like I haven’t done piddly with my life, but by the time I left the conference I was inspired and energized, with a notebook filled with new ideas.

Turns out, what my brain really needed was a shot of adrenaline from inspiration. Thank you, friends at Cusp.

There were many more amazing speakers that I am not even mentioning. You can check them out HERE, and look for upcoming videos of their talks.

Michelle Kaufmann.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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