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Interview: Ross Lovegrove

  • Story Highlights
  • Ross Lovegrove talks about his modern designs and their impact on society
  • He is trying to break down the barriers between science, art and technology
  • Lovegrove believes that nature should be brought back into cities
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(CNN) -- Ross Lovegrove is a veritable pioneer of industrial design. His designs, like the acclaimed "Solar Tree" are both striking and functional, and above all, influenced by Mother Nature's perfect designs.

Designer Ross Lovegrove's striking and functional designs are heavily influenced by nature.

CNN spoke to him about modern design, art with meaning and what the future holds for design.

CNN: Why is modern design important?

Modern design becomes the eye catcher because it's out of context, it is something newborn and fresh, something people have never seen before. I mean that in itself is the way we should sort of stimulate the senses of society, this urban condition.

CNN: Do you think the general public is interested in things with a very new modern aesthetic? Do you think people are ready?

As a creative person, I don't accept that we deny people access to things just on paper. I mean you need to build something and then qualify it and the problem with bureaucracy at any level of politics is it cancels things before they get a chance to breathe and live, and the people who are involved in these projects are people who override that, who in their own world have a position of power.

You can't buy something which does not exist. In a way, let's make things exist and then judge later. Don't cancel the process of creativity too early, let it flow. So everything that we known in recent years that's being built from the Gherkin in London through to a building by Toyota in Japan, these are radically different in their aesthetics and their material composition and you walk around see the city of London now and how it is evolving, the reaction from people is incredible. They, on the one hand are excited to see it, it lifts their senses but on the other hand they get used to seeing it in their environment.

CNN: Where do you see the future of the design industry?

I work with industry and there is no instant industry, to make anything takes from between one-and-a-half years through to maybe five or six years. So you have to have a visionary position, you have to think ahead of yourself because by the time the thing is made it could seriously be out of date and you know, look at the British museum, which was pre-designed and then built later and then people said what's new about that?

You have to be ahead of your game and in industry that is a different condition than in art. If you make things in an intelligent way and then they are replicated, that's a beautiful thing. If you make things in a bad way and they are replicated, the wrong is multiplied.

I have to think about the future because, not that I'm bored with it now, but I can't live now, it's not my place to live now. I've got to live ahead of myself. I think that's a kind of beautiful thing and I often say everything that I visualize in here, everything that I could draw, or create to show people has been influenced by my life experiences, what I see, what I know, what I learn, everything.

CNN: You say that you design in association with art and meaning, can you explain that?

I was talking at the conference about the idea of activism, people who are activists and I remember reading in Vanity Fair, there was a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio on the cover and it said the environmental edition and inside there were people who said activist- writer.

And I'm thinking, well why can't we all have two professions these days? Can't we be a designer-activist, a journalist-activist? It's a bit severe but I love the idea of people with a position of power can actually instigate change. It's a form of action.

CNN: How are you breaking down barriers between science, art, industry and design?

We live in an age now, it's the third millennium, this is 21st century, its not 20th century, its not 19th century. Once we understand that, we can understand that there is a new platform for change, there's a new change in everything.

Science, and new ways of thinking about materials, an atomic level like nano are really helping fuel a revolution. A lot of things that contribute to the progress of life are quite abstract. Things like nano are quite abstract for most people, but if you break them down into a molecular level and then recompose, you get maximum efficiency.

You get something like organic essentialism because there is nothing more, or nothing less that you need but you manufacture at an absolute pinpoint level which is what nature does. So following nature's path through bio-mimicry, nano is one way of looking at it but there is an overall impact that we are going to see in society.

CNN: How is architecture going to change?

Some of the new solutions that we see coming through in architecture is where we grow forests within architecture, we use architecture as vertical cloches for growing food which is kind of interesting that the idea of the city as it evolves becomes a sort of self sustaining entity, it's not grey and concrete, it actually has this sort of dynamics of the farm, it has the dynamics of everything that we need.

CNN: How will this change the idea of a city?

Instead of the city being something that we just know in a very rudimentary sense now, maybe if we're looking at the way that we break down transportation instead of bringing things from all over the world into different cities, maybe there's a local sense of a city being a kind of fusion of everything that we need.

e need to grow our own food maybe in cities, we need to have sustainable gray water systems, we need to bring all of that in and of course those ideas, how people move through a city for example and how people view the city and how those people are viewed maybe giving the city back to good people so we generate new air systems, we break down the acoustic issues that really create stress in cities.

We should bring nature back into the city and converge more then we know and that physicality that I keep talking about within cars and architecture will grow and it will drive a new material spirit.

CNN: Are you optimistic?

Am I optimistic? Well you know, you get me on the right day. We need to be optimistic. Just to give out a positive vibe. Just for people because it's all about humanity isn't it? It's all about our collective consciousness. So you've got to be positive, you got to be super positive and that radiates positivity in other people. I try and put that positivity in what I do so when I'm not around and try and talk about it to people, that in itself communicates the energy of one's existence.

I can't do these things myself but maybe I can force people of influence to follow a lead and then maybe in the next ten or twenty years we might see some big change. If you went outside and the road surface was white and beautiful and you could sit on a beautiful chair or something, maybe you'd think about society in a different way.

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