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TED GLOBAL 2010 12 Lectures, Challenging Attitudes, Lives and, Ultimately, the WORLD

TED Global 2010 (Cornwall), University College Falmouth. Seminar A Daphne Du Maurier, Building, Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ United Kingdom. Telephone: +44 (0)1326 370400. Fax: +44 (0)1326 370450., Š2010 TED / University College Falmouth

TED GLOBAL 2010 12 Lectures, Challenging Attitudes, Lives and, Ultimately, the WORLD






Day 01: 10/11/10 Chaired by Stefan Sagmeister

Day 02: 11/11/10 Chaired by Larry Page

Day 03: 12/11/10 Chaired by Alex Steffen

Sergery Brin & Larry Page On Google p 18-27

Alex Steffin; A sustainable future p 60-69

Stefan Sagmeister; The power of time off p 102-111

David Rockwell; Building at Ground Zero p 70-79

Hans Robing; The best stats youv’e ever seen p 112-121

James H Kunstler; Dissecting Suburbia p 80-89

Jamais Cascio; Tools for a better world p 122-131

Bill Stone; Exploring the world’s deepest caves p 90-99

Bill Joy; What I’m worried about, What I’m excited about p 132-141

Rob Forbes; Ways of Seeing p 28-37 Cameron Sinclair; Open-source Architecture p 38-47 Susan Blackmore; Memes and “Temes” p 48-57



About TED…

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TEDConference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conferences, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize. The annual conferences in Long Beach and Falmouth (2010) bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). On, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 450 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks feature closed captions in English, and many feature subtitles in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

GLOBALISED Day 03: 12/11/10


Stefan Sagmeister The Power of Time off


I run a design studio in New York. Every seven years I close it for one year to pursue some little experiments, things that are always difficult to accomplish during the regular working year. In that year we are not available for any of our clients. We are totally closed. And as you can imagine, it is a lovely and very energetic time. I originally had opened the studio in New York to combine my two loves, music and design. And we created videos and packaging for many musicians that you know. And for even more that you’ve never heard of. As I realised, just like with many many things in my life that I actually love, I adapt to it. And I get, over time, bored by them. And for sure, in our case, our work started to look the same. You see here a glass eye in a die cut of a book. Quite the similar idea, then, a perfume packaged in a book, in a die cut. So I decided to close it down for one year. Also is the knowledge that right now we spend about in the first 25 years of our lives learning. Then there is another 40 years that’s really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. (Applause) That’s clearly

enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company, and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two. There is a fellow TEDster who spoke two years ago, Jonathan Haidt, who defined his work into three different levels. And they rang very true for me. I can see my work as a job. I do it for money. I likely already look forward to the weekend, on Thursdays. And I probably will need a hobby as a leveling mechanism. In a career I’m definitely more engaged. But at the same time there will be periods when I think is all that really hard work really worth my while? While in the third one, in the calling, very much likely I would do it also if I wouldn’t be financially compensated for it. I am not a religious person myself, but I did look for nature. I had spent my first sabbatical in New York City. Looked for something different for the second one. Europe and the U.S. didn’t really feel enticing because I knew them too well. So Asia it was. The most beautiful landscapes I had seen in Asia were Sri Lanka and Bali. Sri Lanka still had the civil war going on. So Bali it was. It’s a wonderful, very craft-oriented society.


I arrived there in September 2008, and pretty much started to work right away. There is wonderful inspiration coming from the area itself. However the first thing that I needed was mosquito repellent typography because they were definitely around heavily. And then I needed some sort of way to be able to get back to all the wild dogs that surround my house, and attacked me during my morning walks. So we created this series of 99 portraits on tee shirts. Every single dog on one tee shirt. As a little retaliation with a just ever so slightly menacing message (Laughter) on the back of the shirt. Just before I left New York I decided I could actually renovate my studio. And then just leave it all to them. And I don’t have to do anything. So I looked for furniture. And it turned out that all the furniture that I really liked, I couldn’t afford. And all the stuff I could afford, I didn’t like. So one of the things that we pursued in Bali was pieces of furniture. This one, of course, still works with the wild dogs. It’s not quite finished yet. And I think by the time this lamp came about, (Laughter) I had finally made peace with those dogs. (Laughter) Then there is a coffee table. I also did a coffee table. It’s called Be Here Now. It includes 330 compasses. And we had custom espresso cups made that hide a magnet

inside, and make those compasses go crazy, always centering on them. Then this is a fairly talkative, verbose kind of chair. I also started meditating for the first time in my life in Bali. And at the same time, I’m extremely aware how boring it is to hear about other people’s happinesses. So I will not really go too far into it. Many of you will know this TEDster, Danny Gilbert, whose book, actually I got it through the TED book club. I think it it took me four years to finally read it, while on sabbatical. And I was pleased to see that he actually wrote the book while he was on sabbatical. And I’ll show you a couple of people that did well by pursuing sabbaticals. This is Ferran Adria. Many people think he is right now the best chef in the world with his restaurant north of Barcelona, elBulli. His restaurant is open seven months every year. He closes it down for five months to experiment with a full kitchen staff. His latest numbers are fairly impressive. He can seat, throughout the year, he can seat 8,000 people. And he has 2.2 million requests for reservations. If I look at my cycle, seven years, one year sabbatical,


“It was INCREDIBLE. I had a wonderful time and met a thousand fascinating people.” Malcolm Gladwell, author


it’s 12.5 percent of my time. And if I look at companies that are actually more successful than mine, 3M, since the 1930s is giving all their engineers 15 percent to pursue whatever they want. There is some good successes Scotch tape came out of this program, as well as Art Fry developed sticky notes from during his personal time for 3M. Google, of course, very famously gives 20 percent for their software engineers to pursue their own personal projects. Anybody in here has actually ever conducted a sabbatical? That’s about five percent of everybody. So I’m not sure if you saw your neighbor putting their hand up. Talk to them about if it was successful or not. I’ve found that finding out about what I’m going to like in the future, my very best way is to talk to people who have actually done it much better than myself envisioning it. When I had the idea of doing one, the process was I made the decision and I put it into my daily planner book. And then I told as many, many people as possibly could about it so that there was no way that I could chicken out later on. (Laughter) In the beginning, on the first sabbatical, it was rather disastrous. I had thought that I should do this without

any plan, that this vacuum of time somehow would be wonderful and enticing for idea generation. It was not. I just, without a plan, I just reacted to little requests, not work requests, those I all said no to, but other little requests. Sending mail to Japanese design magazines and things like that. So I became my own intern. (Laughter) I very quickly made a list of the things I was interested in, put them in a hierarchy, divided them into chunks of time and then made a plan, very much like in grade school. What does it say here? Monday eight to nine: story writing. Nine to ten: future thinking. Was not very successful. And so on and so forth. And that actually, specifically as a starting point of the first sabbatical, worked really well for me. What came out of it? I really got close to design again. I had fun. Financially, seen over the long term, it was actually successful. Because of the improved quality, we could ask for higher prices. And probably most importantly, basically everything we’ve done in the seven years following the first sabbatical came out of thinking of that one single year. And I’ll show you a couple of projects that came out of the seven years following that sabbatical. One of the strands of thinking I was involved in was that sameness is


so incredibly overrated. This whole idea that everything needs to be exactly the same works for a very very few strand of companies, and not for everybody else. We were asked to design an identity for Casa de Musica, the Rem Koolhaas-built music center in Porto, in Portugal. And even though I desired to do an identity that doesn’t use the architecture, I failed at that. And mostly also because I realized out of a Rem Koolhaas presentation to the city of Porto where he talked about a conglomeration of various layers of meaning. Which I understood after I translated it from architecture speech in to regular English, basically as logo making. And I understood that the building itself was a logo. So then it became quite easy. We put a mask on it, looked at it deep down in the ground, checked it out from all sides, west, north, south, east, top and bottom. Colored them in a very particular way by having a friend of mine write a piece of software, the Casa de Musica Logo Generator. That’s connected to a scanner. You put any image in there, like that Beethoven image. And the software, in a second, will give you the Casa de Musica Beethoven logo. Which, when you actually have to design a Beethoven poster, comes in handy because the visual information of the logo and the actual poster, is exactly the same.

So it will always fits together, conceptually, of course. If Zappa’s music is performed, it gets its own logo. Or Philip Glass or Lou Reed or the Chemical Brothers who all performed there, get their own Casa de Musica logo. It works the same internally with the president or the musical director, whose Casa de Musica portraits wind up on their business cards. There is a full-blown orchestra living inside the building. It has a more transparent identity. The truck they go on tour with. Or there’s a smaller contemporary orchestra, 12 people that remixes its own title. And one of the handy things that came about was that you could take the logo type and create advertising out of it. Like this Donna Toney poster, or Chopin, or Mozart, or La Monte Young. You can take the shape and make typography out of it. You can grow it underneath the skin. You can have a poster for a family event in front of the house, or a rave underneath the house, or a weekly program as well as educational services. Second insight. So far, until that point I had been mostly involved or used the language of design for promotional purposes, which was fine with me. On one hand I have nothing against selling. My parents are both sales people. But I did feel that I spent so much time learning this

language, why do I only promote with it? There must be something else. And the whole series of work came out of it. Some of you might have seen it. I showed some of it at earlier TEDs before, under the title “Things I’ve Learned In My Life So Far”. I’ll just show two now. This is a whole wall of bananas at different ripenesses on the opening day in this gallery in New York. It says, “Self confidence produces fine results.” This is after a week. After two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks. And you see the self confidence almost comes back, but not quite. These are some pictures visitors sent to me. (Laughter) And then the city of Amsterdam gave us a plaza and asked us to do something. We used the stone plates as a grid for our little piece. We got 250 thousand coins from the central bank, at different darknesses. So we got brand new ones, shiny ones, medium ones, and very old, dark ones. And with the help of 100 volunteers, over a week, created this fairly floral typography that spelled, “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.” And the idea of course was to make the type so precious that as an audience you would be in between, “Should I really take as much money as I can? Or should I leave


the piece intact as it is right now?” While we built all this up during that week, with the hundred volunteers, a good number of the neighbors surrounding the plaza got very close to it and quite loved it. So when it was finally done, and in the first night a guy came with big plastic bags and scooped up as many coins as he could possibly carry, one of the neighbors called the police.

of course whatever you don’t really do yourself doesn’t really get done properly.

And the Amsterdam police in all their wisdom, came, saw, and they wanted to protect the artwork. And they swept it all up and put it into custody at police headquarters. (Laughter) I think you see, you see them sweeping. You see them sweeping right here. That’s the police, getting rid of it all. So after eight hours that’s pretty much all that was left of the whole thing. (Laughter)

Video: (Laughter) And I’m happy I’m alive. I’m happy I’m alive. I’m happy I’m alive.

We are also working on the start of a bigger project in Bali. It’s a movie about happiness. And here we asked some nearby pigs to do the titles for us. They weren’t quite slick enough. So we asked the goose to do it again, and hoped she would do somehow, a more elegant or pretty job. And I think she overdid it. Just a bit too ornamental. And my studio is very close to the monkey forest. And the monkeys in that monkey forest looked, actually, fairly happy. So we asked those guys to do it again. They did a fine job, but had a couple of readability problems. So

• For Sagmeister’s biography please refer to p 152

That film we’ll be working on for the next two years. So It’s going to be a while. And of course you might think that doing a film on happiness might not really be worthwhile, then you can of course always go and see this guy.

Stefan Sagmeister: Thank you. (Applause)

©2008 TED


“Being a part of TED was a genuine privilege. I’ve never experienced anything remotely like it. I was entertained, educated, enthralled, moved, challenged, intimidated, humbled and most of all inspired!” Jeffrey Katzenberg, partner, DreamWorks SKG



Stefan Sagmeister “Design that needed guts from the creator and still carries the ghost of these guts in the final execution.� Sagmeister


Stefan Sagmeister (born 1962 in Bregenz, Austria) is a New York-based graphic designer and typographer. He has his own design firm, Sagmeister Inc in New York City. He has designed album covers for Lou Reed, OK Go, The Rolling Stones, David Byrne, Aerosmith and Pat Metheny. Sagmeister studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He later received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York. He began his design career at the age of 15 at “Alphorn”, an Austrian Youth magazine, which is named after the traditional Alpine musical instrument. In 1991, he moved to Hong Kong to work the Leo Burnett’s Hong Kong Design Group. In 1993, he returned to New York to work Tibor Kalman’s M&Co design firm. His tenure there was short lived, as Kalman soon decided to retire from the design business to edit Colors magazine for the Benetton Group in Rome. He then proceeded to form the New York based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 and has since designed branding, graphics, and packaging for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, the Guggenheim Museum and Time Warner. Sagmeister Inc. has employed designers including Martin Woodtli, and Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, who later formed Karlssonwilker.

Sagmeister is a long-standing artistic collaborator with musicians David Byrne and Lou Reed. He is the author of the design monograph “Made You Look” which was published by Booth-Clibborn editions. Solo shows on Sagmeister Inc’s work have been mounted in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Japan, Osaka, Prague, Cologne, and Seoul. He teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Arts in New York and has been appointed as the Frank Stanton Chair at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. He has received a Grammy Award in 2005 in Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package category for art directing Once in a Lifetime box set by Talking Heads. He would also work on the 2008 David Byrne and Brian Eno album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. His motto is “Design that needed guts from the creator and still carries the ghost of these guts in the final execution.” Sagmeister goes on a year-long sabbatical around every 7 years, where he does not take work from clients. He has just returned from one in Bali, Indonesia, he is resolute about this, even if the work is tempting, and has displayed this by declining an offer to design a poster for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.


“I came to the TED conference with the idea that I wanted to serve a really unique audience in an impactful way; but honestly I gained more than I could ever imagine personally from my attendance. I met so many people ... just phenomenal human beings who had a true social or contribution focus. I developed a lot of friends out of the group and learned an enormous amount.� Tony Robbins, motivator


“Truly an amazing experience.” Joshua Prince-Ramus, architect

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