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If things were different, we would be rejoicing. The weather has slowly started to change. Mountain peaks no longer impress us with their white covered tips. Instead, they create rivers, all new and previously non-existent. These run rippling their way through fissures on alternate paths, only to pool in muddy puddles at the base. Are these maybe our Earths indication of changing times? Parks and gardens show signs of rebirth, a multitude of colours, the first buds materialising, others already blooming. Birds are chirping loudly; songs of spring celebration – an ode to the sun and its rays of warmth. Optically nature remains unchanged. And yet, the World as we knew it has deviated from its trajectory. It is a War, albeit one against an invisible enemy. Nevertheless, this malevolent concealed trespasser surrounds us. It has invaded our space, causing disagreement and in some cases, spitefulness. It is the source of severe accusations, of missing hand sanitiser and masks, of extreme insecurity. In short, it has changed our whole way of being. And there is no end in sight despite the various governmental predictions and slow reopening of our economies. But, as with all changes that we may face throughout our lives, it should also be a moment of possible introspection. The word possible used on purpose, as there is no certainty that our cosmos is quite ready for it. Over the last few months – in one way or another – we have all had to slow down. Dramatically. Regarding the World from the outside in, sickness is no longer something far removed, that may happen to others in faraway tricky to pronounce locations. Suddenly, we are all not only faced with mortality but obliged to confront it. This devil leaves no people unscathed. The issue is not the who or where; of religion or race; of wealth or poverty. The only question is the ‘if’ and ‘if so’, when? To a certain extent, nevertheless, we have seen it bring people together, turning the ‘Corona thing’ into a War fought unitedly. All while the political cracks, however, seem to expand further. The population of Europe may stand together in a coterminous way, but...? Will the Union withstand the pressure? What about Trump versus Jinping? It is not solely our cross-border politics that seem to diﬀerentiate and achieve mysteries previously unheard. It has also become a search for new saviours and heroes. Question-less is that no politician, no person, was ready for this crisis. Anywhere. Some follow in the footsteps of others or try to portray themselves as economic saviours. Some may even play things down and ignore the virus in its entirety. There are those genuinely authoritarian ones, and those that quite simply, excuse the expression, lack the balls. In the end, none of us knows. We can maintain the paths that we chose. Maybe we face moments of introspection along the way, or perhaps not. There, however, remains the hope that our planet – and its inhabitants – find the best route leading to our future. Stay safe, dear friends. With love, Florentyna
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CONTRIBUTORS A big thank you for your time, your effort, your knowledge, and your imagination. Adam de Jacot Boinod, Resident Travel Writer Clementine Fitzgerald, Fashion Lucia Galli, Current Events Mathias Horx, Opinion Iwana Krause, Writer at large Sebastian N. Markowsky, Resident Technology Expert Nina Miller, Proofreader Mauro della Porta Raffo, Resident History Writer Eliav Schneider, Opinion Dr. Ulrike Tomalla, Luxury
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A Backwards Corona Forecast: Or how we will be surprised when the crisis is ‘over’ by Mathias Horx Article courtesy of www.horx.com / www.zukunftsinstitut.de
hen will the Corona be over” and “When will everything return to normal” are questions often asked of me at the moment. My answer is: never. There are historical moments when the direction of the future changes. We call them bifurcations. Or deep crises. These times are now. The world, as we know it, is dissolving. But behind it comes a new world, the formation of which we can at least imagine. For this, I would like to oﬀer you an exercise with which we have had good experiences in vision processes at companies. We call it the RE-gnosis. In contrast to the PRO-gnosis, we do not look ‘into the future’ with this technique. Instead, we look back from the future to today. Sounds crazy? Let’s try it:
The RE-gnosis: Our world in autumn 2020 Let us imagine a situation in autumn, say in September 2020. We are sitting in a street café in a big city. It is warm, and people are walking down the pavements again. Do they move diﬀerently? Is everything the same as before? Does the wine, the cocktail, the coﬀee taste like it used to? Like it did before Corona? Or even better? Looking back, what will surprise us? We will be surprised that our social distancing rarely led to a feeling of isolation. On the contrary, after an initial paralysing shock, many of us were relieved that the constant racing, talking, communicating on a multitude of channels suddenly came to a halt. Distancing does not necessarily mean loss but can open up new possibilities. Some have already experienced
this, for example, trying interval fasting — and suddenly enjoyed food again. Paradoxically, the physical distance that the virus forced upon us also created new closeness. We met people who we would never have met otherwise. We contacted old friends more often, strengthened ties that had become loose. Families, neighbours, friends have grown closer and sometimes even solved hidden conflicts. The social courtesy that we previously progressively missed increased. Now in autumn 2020, there is an entirely diﬀerent mood at football games than in spring when there was a tremendous amount of mass rage. We wonder why that is. We will be amazed at how quickly digital cultural techniques have suddenly proven themselves in practice. Teleconferencing and video conferencing, which most colleagues had always resisted (the business class flight was better), turned out to be quite practical and productive. Teachers learned a lot about internet teaching. The home oﬃce became a matter of course for many — including the improvisation and time juggling that goes with it. At the same time, outdated cultural techniques experienced a renaissance. Suddenly you got not only the answering machine when you called, but real people. The virus spawned a new culture of long phone calls without people juggling a second screen. The ‘messages’ themselves suddenly took on a new meaning. Humanity communicated again, with nobody kept waiting or stalled, creating a new culture of accessibility and commitment. People who never came to rest due to the hectic rush, including YOUNG people, all of a sudden went for long walks (an activity formerly unknown to them). Reading books suddenly became a cult. Reality shows unanticipatedly seemed awkward,
and the whole trivia trash, the garbage for the soul that flowed through all channels, seemed ridiculous. No, it didn’t completely disappear. But it was rapidly losing value. Can anyone remember the political correctness debate? The infinite number of cultural wars? What, we will ask ourselves, was all that? Crises work primarily by dissolving old phenomena, making them superfluous... Cynicism, a casual way of devaluing the world, was suddenly out. The exaggeration and culture of fear and hysteria in the media were limited after a short first outbreak. Besides, the infinite flood of cruel crime series reached its tipping point. We will be surprised about the drug development during the summer that increased the survival rate. It lowered the death rate and made Corona into a virus with which we have to live. Much like the flu and many other diseases. Medical progress helped. But we also learned that it was not so much technology, but rather a crucial change in social behaviour. The decisive factor was that people could have solidarity and be constructive despite radical restrictions. Human-social intelligence has helped. The much-vaunted artificial intelligence, which promised to solve everything, has only had a limited eﬀect on Corona. There has been a shift in the relationship between technology and culture. Before the crisis, technology seemed to be the panacea, the bearer of all utopias. No one — or only a few hard-boiled people — still
believe in the great digital redemption today. The big technology hype is over. We are once again turning our attention toward altruistic questions: What is humanity? What do we mean to each other? We are astonished to see how much humour and empathy emerged in the days of the virus. We will be amazed at how far the economy could shrink without collapsing, something prophesied during every pre-Corona tax increase and every government intervention. There was a ‘black April’ and a deep economic downturn with a 50 per cent drop in the stock market. There was an agglomeration of bankrupted companies or ones that shrank or mutated into something completely diﬀerent. Even so, the economy never flatlined. As if it was a breathing being that can also nap or sleep and even dream. Today in the autumn, there is a global economy again. But global just-in-time production, with substantial branched value chains carting millions of individual parts across the planet, has survived. It is currently being dismantled and reconfigured. Manufacturing and service are growing again for Interim storage facilities, depots, and reserves. Local production is booming, there is a pinpointing of networks, and crafts are experiencing a renaissance. The global system is drifting towards GLOCALisation: the localisation of the global. We will be surprised that even the loss of assets due to the stock market crash does not hurt as much as it
We all know the feeling of successfully overcoming fear. When we go to the dentist for treatment, we are worried a long time in advance. On the dentist’s chair, we lose control, and it hurts before it hurts. In anticipation, we bathe ourselves in fears that can completely overwhelm us. Once we have survived the treatment, there is a feeling of coping: the world looks young and fresh again, and we are suddenly full of drive. Neuro-biologically, fear adrenaline is replaced by dopamine, a type of endogenous drug of the future. While adrenaline leads us to flee or fight (which is not productive in the dentist’s chair, and just as useless in the fight against Corona), dopamine opens our brain synapses. In essence, we become curious, foresighted, and excited about what is to come. When our dopamine level is healthy, we make plans, and we have visions that lead us to the forward-looking action. Surprisingly, many experience precisely this in the Corona crisis. A massive loss of control suddenly turns into a veritable intoxication of the positive. After a period of bewilderment and fear, inner strength arises. The world may seem to ‘end’. But with the experience and acknowledgement of our remaining, a new kind of ‘being’ arises from within us. In the middle of civilisation’s shutdown, we run through forests or parks, or across almost empty spaces. It is not an apocalypse, but a new beginning. How does it turn out? Change begins as an altered pattern of expectations, perceptions, and world connections. Sometimes it is precisely the break with routines, the familiar, that releases our sense of the future. It is the idea and certainty that everything could be completely diﬀerent — and possibly even better. Trump voted out of oﬃce in November may come as a surprise. Then there is the AfD (Germany’s rightwing/far-right political party). It is losing popularity and attention because a malicious, divisive policy does not fit into a Corona world. The Corona crisis made it clear that those who want to incite people against each other have nothing to contribute to real questions about the future. When things get serious, the destructiveness that lives in populism becomes clear. Politics — in its original sense as the formation of social responsibilities — received new credibility and
felt in the beginning. In the new world, wealth suddenly no longer plays a decisive role. Good neighbours and a blossoming vegetable garden are more important. Could it be that the virus has changed our lives in a direction that we wanted to change in any way?
RE-gnosis: coping with the present through a leap into the future Why does this kind of ‘from the future scenario’ seem so irritatingly diﬀerent from a classic forecast? Because it relates to the specific properties of our sense of the future. When we look ‘into the future’, we typically only see the dangers and problems that pile up into insurmountable barriers coming towards us - like a train that runs us over. This fear barrier separates us from the future. That’s why horror futures are always the easiest to depict. RE-gnosis, on the other hand, forms a loop of knowledge through which we include ourselves and our change in the future. We connect with it internally, creating a bridge between today and tomorrow. It is the creation of a form of ‘Future Mind’. If done correctly, it may allow for the creation of something like future intelligence. We can anticipate not only the external ‘events’ but also the internal adaptations with which we react to a changing world. That feels very diﬀerent from a forecast that always has something dead or sterile in its anticipatory character. We leave the stiﬀness of fear and return to the vitality that belongs to every real future.
After a period of bewilderment and fear, inner strength arises. The world may seem to ‘end’. But with the experience and acknowledgement of our remaining, a new kind of ‘being’ arises from within us.
mostly a blind evolutionary process — because one fails, the new, the viable, prevails. It makes you dizzy at first, but then it shows its inner meaning: and what connects the paradoxes on a new level is sustainable. This process of complexation — not to be confused with COMPLICATION — can also be consciously designed by people. Those who can, who speak the language of the coming complexity will be the leaders of tomorrow. The hope-bearers. The up and coming Gretas.
legitimacy through this crisis. Precisely because it had to act in an ‘authoritarian’ manner, politics created trust in society. Science also experienced an astonishing renaissance in the disaster. Virologists and epidemiologists became media stars. ‘Futuristic’ philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, all previously left on the side-lines of polarised debates, regained their voice and value. Fake news, however, rapidly lost market value. Conspiracy theories also suddenly looked ridiculous.
“Through Corona, we will adapt our entire attitude towards life — in the sense of our existence as living beings amid other forms of life.” Slavo Zizek (Slovenian Philosopher) at the height of the Corona crisis in mid-March
A virus as an accelerator of evolution Deep crises also point to another fundamental principle of change: the trend-countertrend synthesis. The new world after Corona — or better with Corona — arises from the disruption of the megatrend CONNECTIVITY. Politically and economically, this phenomenon is also called ‘globalisation’. The interruption of connectivity — through border closings, separations, seclusions, quarantines — does not lead to the abolition of the connections. But it enables the reorganisation of those things that hold our world together and carry them into the future. There is a phase jump in socio-economic systems. The world to come will appreciate distance again — and this will make connectedness more qualitative. There is a rebalancing of autonomy and dependency, opening, and closing. These can make the world more complex but also more stable. This transformation is
Every deep crisis leaves a story, a narrative that points far into the future. One of the most potent images left by the Coronavirus is of the Italians ‘making’ music on the balconies. The second was sent to us by satellite imagery that suddenly showed the industrial areas of China and Italy free of smog. In 2020, human CO2 emissions will drop for the first time. That very fact will have a tremendous impact on us. If the virus can achieve this, is it then possible that we can also? Maybe the virus was just a messenger from the future. The drastic message is: Human civilisation has become too dense, too fast, and overheated. It is racing too fast in a direction in which there is no future.
But it can reinvent itself. System reset. Cooldown!
Music on the balconies!
That is how the future works.
Made in Italy at the forefront of the
â€˜Bel Paeseâ€™ by Lucia Galli
Leonardo's and Verdi's birthplace is amongst the most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in Europe, with over 24 thousand victims registered just after Easter. While preparing for the slow re-start ahead, many companies reconverted and reinvented themselves to produce masks, gowns, sanitising gels... From automotive to fashions big names, from small to medium-sized companies refusing to give up... 15
Made in Italy
he world changed one night last February. Or rather, it was on that night that Europe became aware that it was under attack and not merely at the cinema, viewing a science fiction film. After weeks of lockdown and a series of 're-start' tests, the planet realised that this would be diﬀerent. It was not going to be a war, a famine, or a financial crash that would overturn the global scenario. Instead, it was a pandemic that, in a few months, by mid-April would already hit the two and a half million case mark worldwide. Now, while Europe tries to begin again all while attempting to remain united, the numbers of contagion are still rising. The virus has moved from east to west— a little like the weather moving from one season to another -although he seemed to prefer the central latitudes of our old continent. Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom. As if he were following, although backwards, a modern 'silk road', on the routes of globalisation, trade, and interchange. Here, on the economic backbone that runs from northern Italy to parts of northerly Europe, he dropped his load filled with pain and fear, mightily.
is also amongst those paying the highest price. Shortly after Easter, Italy faced over 24,000 deaths, already more than civilian victims during the last world war. But the country of Leonardo and Giuseppe Verdi, the ‘Bel Paese’ of art and taste, and the entrusted ‘Made in Italy’ needs to heal. Their point of reference, their century-old identity card is being re-shaped by new requirements. It may now be a folded nation, but certainly not a tamed one. The battles front lines unfolded at hospitals and laboratories. Governmental buildings may house the economic solutions, and yet, it was the big brands and small artisans - from the world of fashion and cosmetics, the manufacturing industry to publishing houses - that teamed up. United so that they could reconvert their productivity to cover the needs, often in combination with charitable organisations and most certainly thanks to individually beneficial initiatives.
New word and new world order: reconversion
Masks, gowns, shoes, their industrial production - just as in war - has been delocalized, or rather, priorities have relocated. We are not solely talking about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that is required by health facilities to equip the new soldiers of these modernistic trenches. Many compa-
We are at war
One of the first countries to be aﬀected in Europe
nies have reinvented themselves, converting their production chains into developing sanitising gel, fans, machinery, and diagnostic instruments. The process began with entrepreneurs from northern Italy, closely followed by the big names in the fashion world. The objective: Mask production. It is a commodity that Italy deemed unprofitable, too simplistic, and production had ceased. Today it has instead become one of the most precious assets, with an estimated need for 90 million pieces per month.
merely a few weeks, reconverted their production lines. They managed to produce around 3 million maks, some surgical, and some reusable. The race for solidarity has also played out among the four-wheelers. “Thanks to technological knowhow, our sector can oﬀer concrete solutions in a short time” Stefano Domenicali, president of Automobili Lamborghini stated. The Emilian brand turbocharged the nearby hospital in Bologna with supplies, with a daily production of 1,000 masks and 200 visors. Ferrari and FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) use their technology to assemble and produce specific components such as the very precious valves that complete lung ventilators in collaboration with an Italian company engaged in the production of electromedical equipment.
Made in Italy
Armani, Prada, Gucci. Piedmontese Zegna (280,000 gowns) and Miroglio (600,000 Masks). The grandest brands have put their most beautiful collections onstage, and it has become a very long catwalk. ‘King Giorgio’ Armani did not forget his Piacenzenese roots, one of the most aﬀected cities and at the epicentre of the initial red zones. In record time the King created an ample supply of hospital gowns while Prada (near Perugia) produced 190,000 masks in 20 days. Gucci sewed a million and a half, creating a charity competition by dragging the big names of the haute couture with them. Colleagues such as, among others, Ferragamo, Scervino, Peuterey, Burberry's, Calzedonia, a total of 180 companies all members of the Camera della Moda, who, in
We can speak of the Valsamoggia (province of Bologna) based Siare Engineering. This small Emilian company was commissioned by the Italian government to collaborate with the ‘big guys’ of the sector to produce 500 fans per month — an enormous commitment with only 35 employees. Other Italian companies also shine through their excellence. In the field of extra-pulmonary ventilation equipment, Eurosets. Based in Medolla of Modena,
Made in Italy
Bulgari with over 6,000 bottles to the colossus of Intercos, from the Tuscan pharmaceutical group Menarini to the Turin Reynaldi and the Davines for Parma, many brands reconverted to produce sanitising gels. Menarini began with a free daily production of 5 tons. Davide Bollati’s group in Parma, on the other hand, has currently shelved their production of shampoos, conditioners, creams, and elixirs for the body. Instead, they have turned their focus upon the creation of hundreds of thousands of units destined for public assistance of an ointment to dispel fear and contagion. They call it “auspicious gel”.
not too far from the historic headquarters of the prancing horse – Ferrari – they have taken to producing 300 per day. Their production has quadrupled in a few weeks. Meanwhile, remaining in Emilia Romagna, the Italian cradle of motoring, and only a few kilometres away in Mirandola, there is an assortment of small high-tech companies. Maybe not quite ready to be confronted by another tragedy so soon after the devastating earthquake of 2012, they nevertheless rolled up their sleeves. Intersurgical, for example, produces CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) helmets, fundamental in avoidance of intubation and intensive care in COVID-19 patients. “In only a few days we went from 50 to 75 employees and from 200 pieces per day to almost 700”, the general manager explains.
Small yet mighty
These beautiful stories of collaboration and solidarity began through the small and medium companies of Lombardy, Liguria, and Veneto. They were among the first Italian regions to be aﬀected by the Coronavirus.
In addition to fashion, the cosmetic world has also joined the battlefield against this virus. From
These beautiful stories of collaboration and solidarity began through the small and medium companies of Lombardy, Liguria, and Veneto
There are so many anecdotes to tell alongside those of the big brands and industry greats. Take the 1946 established textile company Montrasio di Aicurzio as an example. In late February, their research and development team presented a prototype project that passed the required standards. Since then, their 60 employees have been working on three diﬀerent shifts. They were among the first in Italy. Located not far from the Expo 2015 site, the company Fippi di Rho has used their know-how in diaper production to manufacture filter-type masks. They have now surpassed 900,000 pieces. In Varazze, with views over the deepest blue of the Ligurian sea, there is the story of Davide Petrini, manager of a catering and tourism establishment (Pesce Pazzo restaurant). His kitchen and fishing rod are currently not needed, but his resourcefulness has made him overcome a thousand barriers. He purchased machinery from China for a total of 140,000 Euros (customs and taxes included). As of the beginning of April, he has reconverted; instead of frutti di mare (Seafood) or trofie (local Ligurian pasta), he now packs surgical masks, up to 250 000 per day. He has a simple explanation: “I felt it was my duty to contribute”. A publishing house in the province of Monza only a few kilometres from Milan has blocked their
presses, printers, and novels. Bellavite now only makes masks. And then some thought to create masks with a unique window. Lip reading is thus made possible for communication with deaf individuals who express themselves solely through sign language. This invention came from a small company between Milan and the Italian lake district, Brivio. It is thanks to the inventiveness of five visionary seamstresses: “Now we hope that the government will favour these productions and not go back to buying from China who will always be able to charge less”. The collective hope of these small yet big producers.
More accustomed to dressing athletes and champions in their technical fibres, Energia Pura, from the Veneto region is one the first to create reusable masks, washable at 60 ° C. Demaclenko, on the other hand, is a world leader in the production of snow machines and programmable snow. They converted their headquarters in South Tyrol so that their water compressor model can sanitise roads and environments. There is no need to wait for next winter, the following collection, nor godsend. Made in Italy does not stop.
future by Sebastian N Markowsky
umankind has a strong track-record in neglecting inevitable truths. In essence, I am yet indiﬀerent if this makes the human race vulnerable or resilient. Eventually, both. Vulnerable because we miss implementing forward-looking mechanisms. Resilient because it allows suppressing obvious roadblocks and keeps going literally until they rigorously hit us. What is currently happening to the world documents this in the most tangible form on all fronts. It may well be stability over the progress that we never knew but always wanted, and we are just beginning to realise this now. The fear that instability causes and the chance of massive disappointments permeating through societies create an intolerable threat to every system. The natural reaction to this is an increasing centralisation of power in a surveillance state; the unpopular alternative is citizen empowerment. Not so long ago, thoughts about totalitarian surveillance were intuitively linked to China, their upcoming leadership in AI, and their promotion of social scoring. In recent times, there is an increased tendency also seen in the Western world, whereby a more intrusive face towards what concerns personal data and individual freedom is displayed. Even before COVID-19, one could witness two key trends. First, this world has become an ever-greater question mark for the relevant parts of a global but principally developed world population. Increasing uncertainties and a diﬃculty to cope with the quicker pace of innovation and change tie into the imminent threat of falling. A development that has led many people to turn toward more totalitarian ideas as a mechanism to rebalance. The calculation is simple, trade subjective stability for pieces of freedom or as they say, ‘old men planting trees they will never sit under’. Second, there are strong movements around sustainability. The millennial’s generation primarily drives them. It is a group more used to living unstable scenarios, that ironically promotes ideas aimed at establishing systems that may cater and drive long-term stability. A cornerstone of sustainability eﬀorts is around
carbon footprints. Today we seem to have all the ingredients together: Technology in the form of the required hardware, software in the form of track and trace, and cryptography and blockchain theoretically allow solving the most significant problem of our times. It may help to mitigate the consequences of global warming, which will certainly make all we experience these days feel like a walk in the park. Considering that the critical denominator of global warming is carbon emission, there are a few less debatable facts that drastically narrow down the options of possible solutions to overcome it. The carbon emissions in 2018 and 2019 were each around 30bn metric tons, with North America, Europe, and China making up for more than 50% of those emissions. Consequently, those three parties need to concert their actions in a topdown scenario to achieve success. If the massive eﬀorts of the Kyoto Protocol in the 80s have not accomplished enough, then the global political climate of this day makes me pretty hopeless on that front. I assume that everyone is well-prepared to receive positive news over the next few months. Firstly, about how carbon emissions have decreased so that they will finally meet the Kyoto Protocol targets. And secondly, how our continued fight against climate change is finally starting to show eﬀect. That snapshot benefit will vanish as fast as it arose with COVID-19 and latest after the subsequent cooling down of the global economy, and it is nothing for which anyone should be claiming the credit. Last but not least, because all eﬀorts to date have failed to create the necessary deep-rooted change to solve it within our global society. Since there is objectively no room left for additional carbon emissions, distributing a virtual pie of carbon allowances in the form of oﬀsets year after year, without having a backup solution at hand, feels ironic at best. An unpopular statement is that China is the country closest to becoming carbon neutral. China has been pursuing the classical Silicon Valley startup model on many fronts, impressively executing on a long-term vision – the aspiration of a leadership role in the world. They have deliberately worked
under the framework of 'putting growth first and fixing things later' and have adhered to this concerning environmental costs. It is comparable to how global technology titans have grown out of Silicon Valley and increasingly other places in the world. When applying this to China as a whole, it is an implication of how the country has developed. First, as a country that grew from attracting global capacities as the low-key assembly backyard of the world. Then on to its phase as the worlds copy garage, followed by the stage where it became one of the pillars of next-generation technology in the fields of general software, blockchain, and AI. At least the software and AI part seems to be the logical continuation of strategic and disciplined investments into thorough automation of assembly and production. These quantum leaps in automation, focusing on a first instance on the physical construction, increasingly enter the software space just logically dragging along an aspiration for AI innovation. Fuelled by massive investments that China has already undertaken and is
planning to continue spending, China is going to be the undisputed world leader in AI. They are planning to allocate USD 70 billion to AI in 2020 alone, while the US and Europe are only spending a low single-digit billion USD amount. It is even less surprising from a cultural viewpoint since Artificial Intelligence is a technology that generally centralises power and reduces communal trust, and so it disempowers the individual. Nonetheless, this may be the skeleton key to how China may be able to solve global warming - through social scoring. The developmental path they have chosen is AI but in combination with incentives as well as disincentives. Once productivity allows for it, and health moves to the top of mind, the Chinese today are better able to implement change than any other country. It is eďŹ€ectively only a matter of time until the Chinese prioritise health as a function of the overall rising living standards in line with the Maslo needs pyramid. China is theoretically closest to solving the carbon emissions, primarily through top-down disincentives.
At this point, I would like to invite you to travel to a world where global warming is solved. It is the year 2030. Humankind has successfully manoeuvred around the experience of the aftermaths of global warming in the form of extreme weather phenomena, rising sea levels, droughts, harvesting, and subsequent hunger crises. The bad news is that the earth long passed the point of no return on the carbon emissions front in 2020. The good news is that carbon emissions were merely a part of the key to success, and there was a global warming mastery after all. Looking back, none of the countries responsible for the majority of carbon emissions has been the key to the puzzle. However, Europe, without being conscious about it, has provided a fertile cradle for something which felt very premature at the time. It has a heritage as the birth continent of democracy and until today is considered one of the most liberal regions in the world. This combination allowed for new forms of economies, trust-systems,
and the closely associated freedom technologies need to flourish. It then also makes sense that a relevant part of the global blockchain talent seeks and finds its home in Europe. Because, blockchain, in contrast to AI, aims to decentralise power as well as trust and hence shall empower the individual. To disillusion some expectations: In 2030, money still rules the world and will continue to do so. That is never going to change. But that may not necessarily be a bad thing because it makes outcomes far more predictable. If one is in fear to be able to provide for the family, how important will he rank saving our planet for the next generation? How high can he aďŹ€ord to classify not cutting that tree that would allow him to feed his family for another day? We never planted those one trillion trees. We started, and we got to a few billion, but we never got even close to one trillion. The reason we lost the tree planting focus was rational though. Already many years before 2020, we were lucky that a few people invested in carbon cap-
Already many years before 2020, we were lucky that a few people invested in carbon capture technologies. These aim to artificially replicate trees by sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, turning it into CO2 gas, then used for further industrial processes. 24
ture technologies. These aim to artificially replicate trees by sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, turning it into CO2 gas, then used for further industrial processes. Already in its infancy, the technology has proven to be much more eﬃcient than trees, which is why incentives went towards preservation. With the beginning of 2020, Direct Air Capture (DAC) had passed its research phase. It was ready to conquer the decade and be a catalyst to one of the most massive changes in the following ten years... Private economy initiatives solved the problem and initiated a new era. This era was visible in its infancy for some years, gaining ground when it managed to address some of the most important topics of our planet. It did this through privately organised initiatives with a significant adoption on an individual level, rather than through public bodies. The following key determinants were exemplary in this case even if subsequent initiatives often repeated them. 1) A technology that works end-to-end and hence tackles long-tail adoption of the market. 2) Transparency through track and trace, putting the power for change into the hands of individuals directly. 3) All through a blockchain-enabled platform that promotes a censorship-resistant, privacy-preserving, and immutable set-up. The thing that certainly made the diﬀerence from all other innovation waves before was the bundling of blockchain technology with cryptography. It allowed the creation of uniquely identifiable digital representations of a unit of carbon dioxide as a means to let global supply and demand (institution-
al and retail) determine a fair price. Also, there is the externalisation of network eﬀects. They create a two-sided marketplace via cryptocurrency listings for everyone with a smartphone to invest in and mine. It has impressively shown the unseen power of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, jumpstarting one of the most significant initiatives of our time: The way to carbon neutrality for planet earth as a decentralised eﬀort. Let us go on a little excursion here: Bottom line, one could draft a hypothesis. Bitcoin, in an abstract way, is a tool for measuring the global level of personal disappointment and frustration with national and institutional governance and the loss of trust in financial institutions by vast swathes of the population. This frustration has many faces like inflation rates, expropriations, corruption, refugee crises, or wars. A more general description resembles with the privatisation of profits and the generalisation of costs, with the issuance of further money on this planet. That then presents an inherent conflict of interest because printing more money favours the population that owns assets, a group usually better and more strategically represented among governments than the rest. If Bitcoin now represents the frustration with global monetary policy. And CO2 emissions are likely to decide on the survival of our race. Then why should there not be a similar cryptographic instrument representing the importance of global warming amongst the general public in the form of one additional cryptocurrency - the carbon token.
BE N JA MIN BRONFMAN
Global Thermostat ElektrikTree and
An Interview by Sebastian N Markowsky
Direct air capture (DAC)
is an environmental technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the ambient air and generates a concentrated stream of CO2. The technology has been in development for the last 15 years and basically, mimics what trees do to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. The output of the process is a CO2 stream that can undergo dehydration and compression. DAC is still in the early stages of development, with private funding predominant in this sector. In contrast, public funds have primarily aimed at supporting technological developments that capture carbon at the point of emission.
The idea of using many small DAC machines - analogous to live plants - to create an environmentally significant reduction in CO2 levels, has earned the technology a name of artificial trees in popular media. 28
remember having this ‘Eureka’ kind of moment 15 years ago. It became clear to me that a possible solution to the CO2 problem could be a natural replication of the CO2 capturing process of trees. Shortly after, I started researching carbon capture and removal. Back then, direct air capture was a theoretical idea, something that existed only on university campuses. It was the topic of small debates and seminars which consisted of 15 to 20 people. Still, attracted by the spirit of these scientists who were mainly talking themselves into becoming entrepreneurs, I ended up meeting Dr Graciela Chichilnisky and Dr Peter Eisenberger. They are both pioneers of environmental economics, physics and direct air capture. I was in New York at the time, and many of the seminars were at Columbia University, where both Peter and Graciela were professors. Graciela pioneered the concept of environmental economics and was instrumental in developing the framework for the Kyoto Protocol. Peter had very diﬀerent energy; he reminded you of the scientist from “Back to the Future”. Besides making science fun, he had a first-class background as well. He founded the Princeton Materials Institute and the Earth Institute at Columbia. He additionally also boasted operational experience at Bell Labs and Exxon. I was so obsessed with their energy and impressed by their extensive backgrounds that, shortly after, I in-
troduced them to my father and grandfather. For me, being 24 at the time, it was a remarkable moment to receive the blessing of my family for the initial investment into Global Thermostat. This story of how we came together and founded the firm feels like a lifetime ago. Technology development dominated the following ten years. In 2010 we built the first operational direct air capture facility in Menlo Park, California, located at Stanford Research Institute. This unit proved to be capable of extracting carbon dioxide from the air, and we did a lot of testing focused mainly around the reduction of costs. This plant, along with our other unit in Huntsville Alabama, has put Global Thermostat in the position to be one of the three leading direct air capture companies in the world. The advantage that Direct Air Capture (DAC) has over “point source capture” is that the technology is essentially location agnostic. A fact that may not sound like a big deal. But it is revolutionary because we can set up our machines wherever CO2 is needed and cut out all transportation costs. Furthermore, it was undoubtedly crucial because we are pulling CO2 right out of the sky, which is an entirely diﬀerent task than extracting the CO2 from the point source. Global Thermostat is now signing major commercial agreements and getting ready to scale up. It has been a long hard road and, there are so many challenges ahead
Time and again, I have said that because “CO2 is invisible and non-odorous; we have a hard time visualizing what is actually happening to us. If CO2 were purple and smelled like shit, this problem would have solved itself 100 years ago”. I think what is new is that we now have the collective buy in to solve this problem. People know how damaging climate change is going to be if we continue to let it go unchecked. I know humanity has the conviction to solve this problem, and now we indeed have the tools to bring ourselves back in balance and harmony with the planet. For this reason, I recently initiated a new project called Elektrik Tree (ET). ET focuses on solving the additional incentives problem, needed on a massive scale so that the collective is motivated to participate in extracting CO2 out of the atmosphere and storing it. ET is a technology platform that allows everyone to participate directly. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports show that we only have minimal time to start making a serious, measurable impact. It is our goal to enable citizens of the world to collectively pull 30 billion metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually by 2030. ET gives this power to everyone that has a cell phone and allows investing into fractions of Direct Air Capture machines on the platform in the form of crowdfunding. These machines mine CO2, and each metric ton equals a Direct Air Capture credit which will be tradable on relevant exchanges. The design of ET’s token economics incentivises miners to pull more and more CO2 out of the atmosphere. In theory, our DAC Credit or Elektrik Tree is
in terms of scaling, but we are finally there. Scaling is now our primary focus – scaling the manufacturing, the distribution, the capital base, and securing the oﬀ-take agreements. On the other side, people don’t wholly understand the CO2 industry well enough. People drink carbonated beverages every day but don’t think about where the carbon is derived. So there is a decent amount of education involved in this whole endeavour. As a next step, institutional capital needs to see this all working, so we aim to establish the technology as financially bankable and lendable to catalyse its growth. The fact that the output of high purity raw CO2 gas has a large underlying current market of 9 Billion USD today, with an expectation to grow to 1 trillion USD by 2030, is an incredible blessing. The industrial market is growing so fast because companies need CO2 as a feedstock for synthetic gasoline, algae biofuels, and there are several other industrial applications. At the same time, you have a global consciousness. This awareness has now started to realise that we must pull CO2 out of the atmosphere if we are going to avoid catastrophic climate change. Because of these factors, Direct Air Capture has reached an inflexion point. It is ready for primetime. We feel fortunate to be where we are at this very moment. Our technology can tangibly contribute to solving one of if not the biggest problem on the planet. We now live in a COVID-19 world. We will pay attention to the fact that the economic cost of catastrophic climate change reaches far beyond what is happening now. Inclusive of the public health side. Another similarity to COVID-19 is that we are fighting an invisible enemy.
CO2 REMOVAL AND MITIGATION BOTH URGENTLY REQUIRED CLIMATE IMPERATIVE: CO2 REMOVAL AND MITIGATION BOTH URGENTLY REQUIRED Limiting warming to 2°C requires sharp reductions in CO2 levels: Direct Air Capture (removes emissions)
1billion+/year required by 2030 10-20+ billion/year required over time
Point Source Capture (mitigates emissions) • Current point source emissions: ~20 billion tons/year • If applied to just 2 5 - 5 0 % : ~ 5-10 billion tons/year captured
Below 1.5C scenario would require even greater carbon removal
Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine *
“CO2” refers to “CO2 equivalents” throughout CONFIDENTIAL
similar to a Bitcoin because we have a built-in supply/ of money. But catdemand curve. astrophic climate We aim to be the change is the bigGlobal Thermostat’s technology and lowest cost have been proven and validated premier clean air gest challenge we at the bench, pilot, and commercial demo scales by leading third parties and cryptocurrency. 2018 National Academy report. face as a global With the society, and we emergence of certainly haven’t 1K+ >$150 blockchain, crypseen Silicon Valley TONNES tocurrency, crowdcome to the plate. Rigorous testing & verification of Cost per < tonne, lowest cost in the of captured CO from funding, and DiThese things supthree pilot facilities heat, electricity, and water used, market with a clear line of sight to further reductions and CO produced rect Air Capture posedly take time, – as well as a globas it took solar 30 al carbon market years. We have successfully secured a robust global patent portfolio with a 214-bilIn parallel, the protecting our breakthrough technology. lion-dollar annual COVID-19 tragedy turnover – we have may finally be the 50 57 61 all the pieces in giant wake up call NATIONS PATENTS PATENTS place to drive this for everyone to reERCIAL PLANT IN HUNTSVILLE, AL clean air system. alize how suddenAwarded up to date Secured patent protection Pending GT PILOT FACILITIES AT SRI It’s an exciting ly our reality can COST & PERFORMANCE VALIDATED BY MULTIPLE THIRD PARTIES time for sure, but change. It is proof Georgia Institute of Technology SRI (formally Stanford GasTech the challenge is of how fragile the Advanced Technology Research Institute) 2110 Industrial Rd. increasing every economy and the Development Center 311 Ferst Sapulpa, OK 74066 333 Ravenswood Ave Dr NW day because we entire system truly Menlo Park, CA 94025 Atlanta, GA 30332 are unquestionais. The thing that CONFIDENTIAL 11 CONFIDENTIAL bly running out of sticks out the most time. There is undoubtedly an increased excitement is that we saw it coming. We got the memo, and our best for Direct Air Capture. It was explicitly mentioned in defence plan was denial. The same is going to happen Microsoft’s recent commitment to reduce its historical with climate change, but climate change is likely going emissions since 1975 to zero. Even so, capital has not to make COVID-19 feel like a walk in the park. been easy to come by. The last thing I’ll say because I would prefer to end It is an issue that arises from massive governmenon a positive note is that I think this problem is ental failing and failure of the private sector. Funding the tirely solvable. COVID-19 struck the United States, research to develop Direct Air Capture technologies and the US government cut a two-trillion-dollar should not have been left up to Edgar Bronfman Jr check to support the economy. It will cost about three (Global Thermostat) and Bill Gates (Carbon Engineertrillion dollars to pull 30 billion metric tons of CO2 out ing). Between Climeworks, Carbon Engineering, and of the atmosphere, which would make us carbon neuGlobal Thermostat, the entire industry has raised about tral. I know it’s going to happen. I just hope we can 200M US Dollars of funding. That may sound like a lot make it happen in time.
WHO IS BENJAMIN? Benjamin Bronfman is an American entrepreneur and Grammy-nominated musician. His portfolio of companies has raised over USD 100m in capital. He is a strategic advisor, principal and partner at Global Thermostat, a leading direct air capture technology provider and manufacturer. Bronfman is also the founder of Elektrik Tree. This technology company aims to accelerate the deployment of direct air capture technologies by making it accessible to the general public.
by Eliav Schneider
he term “crisis”, of Greek derivation (κρίσις), initially indicated – from the Greek verb κρίνω: “to separate” – the separation.
It is a temporal disconnection between a before and an after; – a so-called breaking point and a separation. It is a time of change and a turning point from a previous situation. These are some of the eﬀects the quarantine caused by the Coronavirus has brought us. It has also brought and bought us time, forcing us to reflect. Mainly regarding our life system that in recent years, has shown a variety of inevitable problems. Over the last decade, the proliferation of social events appears evident. It is the result of an excessive request for people to show up in public, with unsustainable plans and increasing expenditure of money. Solely for reasons of image creation – mostly fake. The individuals in question are not at peace with their ego and as such, do not accept each other as they are.
With the collapse of Lehman Brothers, that naturally reflected the worldwide lifestyle and changed the class order, a new generation of ‘poor’, as well as a new generation of ‘rich’, arose. It characterised a profound social crisis in which the only value given was to money and the ability to spend. The World will undoubtedly recover as it always has after each tremendous economic crisis. The development and survival of its people are naturally linked to financial performance and not to an actual improvement of internal life quality. And certainly not in respect to nature. In the context of the ‘29 crisis, the World also recovered after the New York Stock exchange collapsed. Surprisingly, people did not seem to understand the value of morals taught through the Second World War. Peoples capacity to forget quickly is astounding. So is the fact that they become incapable of transferring their knowledge and values to future generations. The USA and New York, in particular, are the nerve centre of this evolution, and we see how US citizens have reacted to Covid-19. In Europe, the situation was/is worse than in the USA. But there is absolutely nothing that can compare to more than 2000 years of history – with two World Wars in the middle, killing millions.
New York City, we experienced another great economic crisis that partially involved the whole World. The peoples' perception, however, was that it was a US problem, forgetting that terrorism knows no borders and will aﬀect all. Once again, quickly forgotten lessons. The young generations don’t necessarily know what happened, and nobody seems to feel the need to explain what human loss truly means. The most recent financial crisis (and probably the one that people truly felt), was that of 2008. With the collapse of Lehman Brothers, that naturally reflected the worldwide lifestyle and changed the class order, a new generation of ‘poor’, as well as a new generation of ‘rich’, arose. It characterised a profound social crisis in which the only value given was to money and the ability to spend. In the end, the World was able to regain strength. A cold tenacity, without any solid foundations, with expansion and globalisation that has caused, without doubt, excessive growth, with millions of incompetent, socially frustrated individuals. It has then led to an excess of supply compared to demand, determining a condition of disease, not entirely asymptomatic. Today we are paying the high price of bygone days. How frustrating is this situation?
In 2001 following the Twin Towers attack in
The coronavirus crisis is 36
a world-changing event by Roberto Pucciano
ealing with the coronavirus crisis and its aftermath could be the imperative of our times. “For some organisations, near-term survival is the only agenda item. Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty, thinking about how to position themselves once the crisis has passed and things return to normal. The question is, ‘What will normal look like?’ While no one can say how long the crisis will last, what we find on the other side will not look like the normal of recent years”. It is impossible to know what will happen. But it is possible to consider the lessons of the past. Whether distant or recent and based on constructive thoughts about the future. We believe the following elements to be valuable in the process of shaping the next normal—and those that business leaders will need to come to terms with.
#Distance is back
In the mid-1990s, the 'death of distance' idea gained currency. The predominant train of thought was that web-based and telecom technologies made new ways of working and communications possible, reducing the value of physical proximity. As the flow of information became cheaper and seamless, global supply chains of bewildering complexity were able to deliver just-in-time products as a matter of routine. Cross-border trade reached new peaks. And the world’s burgeoning middle class took to travel and tourism with something like abandon. Even before COVID-19 hit, there were signs of unease, expressed by calls for protectionism and further restrictive immigration and visa policies. In these ways, people sought, in eﬀect, to create more distance from those unlike themselves. To deal with the pandemic, governments around the world-imposed restrictions on people and goods with a severity not seen for decades. According to one study, over three billion people live in countries whose borders have completely closed to non-residents. 93% live in countries that have imposed new entry limitations due to the Coronavirus. Eventually, the tourists will come back, and the borders will reopen. Still, it is certainly possible that the previous status quo will not return.
Even when lockdown restrictions begin to ease, businesses will need to figure out how to operate in new ways. In short, resiliency and returning better than
the competition—will be the key to survival and long-term prosperity.
Again, the past can be a prelude. This advice is still sound—but insuﬃcient. COVID-19 could end up dwarfing the financial crisis in economic damage. Should this be the case, it will not be enough for many companies to tweak their business model; they will need to rethink it instead. Imperative will be the revisitation of the critical elements of business structures. Take the Wall Street Journal, for example. They observed that the crisis revealed weaknesses in succession plans as leaders get sick, and deputies quickly need to be found across all aspects of operations. Companies are learning the hard way that succession planning has to go much deeper than the C-suite. And for that matter much broader too, responding to possible short-term disruptions as well. Investors are likely to take note and thus devise ways to incorporate resiliency more systematically into their valuations. Indeed, in the wake of recent natural disasters, the impact of climate change was increasingly recognised by business leaders and investors, with consequent eﬀects on decision making and valuations. This pressure to include environmental, social, and governance factors in valuing a business is likely to expand to incorporate resilience to outside shocks, such as pandemics.
In three areas in particular—digital commerce, telemedicine, and automation—the COVID-19 pandemic could prove to be a decisive turning point. E-commerce was already meaningfully and visibly eating into the sales of brick-andmortar stores. What the Coronavirus has done is to accelerate a change in shopping habits that were already well established. In Europe, 13% of consumers said in early April that they were planning to browse online e-tailors for the first time. In Italy alone, e-commerce transactions have risen 81% since the end of February. The telemedicine and virtual health figures are just as striking. Teladoc Health, the largest US stand-alone telemedicine service, reported a 50% increase in service
the week ending March 20 and is adding thousands of doctors to its network. The Federal Communications Commission is spending $200 million to improve connectivity between patients and virtual-healthcare providers. And the US Department of Health and Human Services has increased reimbursements for telemedicine and enabled the cross-state provision of virtual care. Sweden’s KRY International, one of Europe’s biggest telehealth providers, reported that registrations were up more than 200%. France and Korea have both changed regulations to ease access to telemedicine. With a vaccine or treatment at least months away, patients and healthcare providers both have reason to expand virtual interactions. In eﬀect, it is becoming possible to imagine a world of business—from the factory floor to the individual consumer—with minimal human contact. But not eliminated - for many people, getting back to normal will include popping into stores
again. And the roadside kiosks typical of much of the developing world are not about to be replaced by cashless hyper stores. Patients with complex needs will still want to see their doctors in person, and many kinds of jobs are not automatable. But the trends are irreversible.
#More government intervention in the economy
During times of great crisis, such as World War II, citizens have proven a willingness to accept, even embrace, greater government control of the economy. There has already been an economic intervention on a scale unseen for decades. As of April 10, governments across the globe announced stimulus plans amounting to $10.6 trillion—the equivalent of eight Marshall Plans. Most spending is directed at three areas—supporting citizens’ basic needs, preserving jobs, and helping
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen Keller
businesses to survive another day. A push to redefine the global public health ecosystem to navigate possible future pandemics and related threats better could provide additional impetus for cross-country public-sector intervention. In the same way that the reform of financial institutions gained momentum in 2009, the same could be true for public health soon. At some point, governments may decide to get out of the business of business; how they do so will be complicated and diﬀerentiated. How much, how fast, and in what ways governments reduce their economic role will be one of the most critical questions of the next decade. The Coronavirus could be the most significant global challenge since World War II. In the wake of that conflict came the question: “What did you do during the war?” Once the COVID-19 battle has been won, that question will be asked, forcefully, of both government and businesses. Business leaders need to ask it of themselves now.
One of the fundamental questions facing business leaders is whether their industry will rebound from the economic shock posed by the virus or sustain lasting damage. The answer to this question likely lies in an assessment of the degree in which industries find themselves susceptible to the elements highlighted in this article. For example, those that have shown themselves to be less resilient may find it diﬃcult to regain their pre-COVID-19 standing. In the automobile sector, for example, companies have relied on global just-in-time-based supply chains. They will be under pressure to change, so that continuity of supply is just as valued as cost and speed to market. Additionally, there could be lasting changes to consumer attitudes toward physical distance, health, and privacy. For example, increased health awareness and a corresponding desire to live more healthily could bring lasting change to where, how, and what people eat. Some consumers and governments—but by no means all—may change their attitudes toward the sharing and use of personal data. That is if it is possible to demonstrate that the use of such data during the crisis helped safeguard lives. For millennials and members of the Generations born between 1980 and 2012—this crisis represents the most significant disruption they have faced. Their attitudes may be changed profoundly and in ways that are hard to predict. The tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors may see their industries subjected to long-term changes
in business and individual travel preferences. Concern over the possibility of other “black swan” events could change how consumers approach financial security—saving more and spending less. In this context, institutions may find new and enduring ways to collaborate, prompted by regulatory and other changes that have enabled corporations to work together to address the current crisis.
#Finding the silver linings
If necessity is the mother of invention – and it often is – there could be some positive outcomes from the Coronavirus crisis. These, however, are unlikely to come anywhere close to compensating the human and economic toll it is wreaking. One has to do with the human imperative to communicate. In this sense, the death of distance continues to be very real and very positive. Individuals, communities, businesses, and governments alike are all learning new ways to connect; almost everyone is aware of at least one story of a grandparent who finally learned to Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. For businesses, the consequences have been profound. Many have learned how to operate remotely–at a high level and far greater speed. These practices could well stick, making for better management and more flexible workforces. Flexible work is often critical to support employees through their diﬀerent life stages, such as parents with young children, women during parts of their career, or aﬃnity groups such as the disabled. Business leaders now have a better sense of what can, and cannot, be done outside their companies’ traditional processes. Many are beginning to appreciate the speed with which their organisations can move once they change how they do things. In short, the Coronavirus is forcing both the pace and scale of workplace innovation. Indeed, by forcing businesses to do more with less, many are finding better, simpler, less expensive, and faster ways to operate. The urgency of addressing COVID-19 has also led to innovations in biotech, vaccine development, and the regulatory regimes that govern drug development so that treatments can be approved and tried faster. In many countries, health systems have been hard to reform; this crisis has made the 'diﬃcult' much simpler to achieve. These silver linings are thin compared with the scale of the Coronavirus catastrophe. Nurturing a next normal that will be better than what it replaced will be a long-term test of all our institutions, global and local, public and private. It will be critical to reconstruct for the future and not merely solve the problems of the past. Optimism, hope, and braveness are qualities needed more than ever as leader make the decisions that will shape the next normal.
A JPAN “What each of us believes in is up to us, but life is impossible without believing in something”.
(Kentetsu Takamori, Shiran’s Words on the pure land path) by Adam Jacot de Boinod
a schoolboy, I remember Tokyo having the highest population in the world. It is undoubtedly busy, more with people and skyscrapers perhaps, than fumes or traﬃc running across a grid of streets that most resemble American cities. It’s at her most impressive lit up at night, and space is at a premium. Houses come right up to the roads with cars parked in minimal or elevated slots. Layers seemingly overlap with tall oﬃce buildings and apartments, rail tracks and highways, roads like Scalextrics, subways, and burrowing basements of supermarkets called ‘depa-chika’. Luckily I don’t suﬀer from ‘chokuegambo’, the desire to buy things at luxury brand shops. For the forces of ostentatious consumerism are strong in Japanese society, putting pressure on the ‘sarariman’ (salaryman). Interestingly my first port of call was Omotesando, a smart shopping area complete with a shopping centre called Omotesando Hills to replicate Beverley Hills. I stayed at the beautiful Peninsula Hotel Tokyo, and particularly enjoyed having dinner at Peter, one of the hotel’s restaurants (www.peninsula.com/en/tokyo/5-star-luxury-hotel-ginza). Tokyo cityscape with Mount Fuji. Opening, a walkway in Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. Next page, the famous Shibuya crossing at night in Tokyo
It was incredible to feel the immensity of this urban jungle with mountains and even the snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance. 44
The entrance beckoned with delightful cloche lights, and the foyer had an alluring eye and eyebrow installation. The stunning view from the 24th floor looks over the malachite green roofs of the Imperial Palace. For my starter, I had a ‘red snow crab cake with coriander and tsukemono tartar sauce’, which I drank with a 2016 Chardonnay from the Keller Estate in Petaluma, California. There followed a Kobe sirloin with ‘sancho’ pepper sauce, spinach, and broccoli, combined with a 2015 Pinot Noir from the same Californian Estate. For dessert, I rounded oﬀ a delicious dinner with a chocolate ‘ganache’, ‘namelaka’, crumble, and ice cream - a fantastic treat. At nearby Shibuya, I went to visit the Hachikō Dog Statue deriving from the true story of a dog waiting faithfully for its boss, a professor, to return from the station. After the professor died in 1925, Hachikō continued to come to the station daily until his death nearly ten years later. From the nearby Shibuya Sky Observatory on the 45th floor, I looked down below at the famous zebra crossings and the new Olympic Stadium. Following the great success of the rugby world cup in which Japan excelled herself as the host nation, the stadium is already complete for August 2020. I also saw the Skytree Tower, the second tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It was incredible to feel the immensity of this urban jungle with mountains and even the snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance. Sadly I didn’t get to visit the gadgets and gimmicks of Akihabara, famous for its many electronics shops. Instead, I went to Takeshita Street in Harajuku. Here young ladies parade, dressed up as rebel schoolgirls with their ties at half-mast, dreaming of being snapped up as models. They exuded super sweetness with their extra rosy cheeks. They were sporting a variety of bows, ribbons, and lace with short sexual skirts – equally kitsch and cute as they acted out their fantasy of perfection for the Instagram age. Here also are the cafés to sit with dogs, cats, pigs, monkeys, owls, and hedgehogs. I entered one with piglets purely out of curiosity as these little creatures rubbed themselves up endearingly beside me. It was time to integrate myself fully into Tokyo’s daily life, so oﬀ I went to Tsukiji Market. It bustled with customers’ elbows, police oﬃcers barracking, and hucksters haggling. I turned down a massive tuna to get myself travellers’ snacks instead, such as nuts and crackers.
A typical Japanese geisha. Left, from top: the bamboo forest of Kyoto; the famous cherry blossom lined Meguro Canal; the Imperial Palace of Japan in Tokyo; the famous ‘Shinkansen’ Bullet Train; Takeshita Street, Harajuku, Tokyo; Chicory salad,fresh herb and sweet potato Bento; portrait of typical Japanese school girl
I popped into a temple to chance upon a traditional wedding service, where fortuitously timed, I wasn’t an imposition as a visiting tourist. I watched the congregation put sticks into a fire as votive oﬀerings. The newlywed couple showed commitment to the solemnity of the occasion as much as to each other. Afterward, I had dinner at Signature, one of Mandarin Oriental’s restaurants (www.mandarinoriental. com/tokyo). On the 37th floor, chef Luke Armstrong oﬀered up a fantastic menu of contemporary French food. All the velvet banquettes and tables beneath the elegant cornice angle toward the mesmeric view of Tokyo’s bejewelled skyline. The lowered lighting and large windowpanes give even the special island seat past the bar a more significant impact. A jazz quartet played, and an internal fountain rippled. To begin with, I had a glass of Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé champagne before tucking into Soymilk Bavarois with marinated Ikura, which I drunk with a 2013 Châteaux Brane-Cantenac Margaux. To follow, I had the recommended Pan Roasted fillet of Chiba with sautéed spinach and artichokes. For dessert ‘Gin and Tonic Granite’ made from Vanilla and Sake Lees Rice Pudding with fresh Sudachi. A real feast. In a ‘depa-chika’ basement supermarket at Tokyo station, I bought a ‘bento’, a packed lunch box. It was a nourishing delight before I stood observing the ‘seven-minutes miracle’. These are cleaning ladies dressed in pink uniforms that unerringly turned the seats round from the previous journey as I boarded the famous ‘Shinkansen’ Bullet Train. This train links the country’s major cities. In under three hours, I had reached Kyoto passing the otherworldly snow-capped Mount Fuji to my right forty minutes into the journey. Here I stayed at the Kyoto Hotel Okura (www.hotel. kyoto/okura) where smart liveried bellboys showed military precision and timing in taking my cases to my spacious room. It overlooked the river and all-the-way to the mountains beyond, the lovely bowl of a setting for Kyoto, the former capital before Edo (Tokyo). To enjoy Kyoto’s famed Golden Pavilion and to avoid the crowds, I recommend going early, perhaps with a tour, to re-enact the contemplation that the setting exudes and demands. With stunning architecture and landscaping, it was initially the retirement villa of a statesman before becoming a Buddhist temple. There’s gold foil on lacquer on the upper two levels, a charming detached teahouse, and a pond garden with its reflection perfect for a contemplative mind. The stillness and placement of the trees with moss growing up into the bark give a pure sense of oneness and harmony. Next, I saw Nijo-Jo Castle. I trod on the floorboards mimicking the sound of nightingales: a former effective alarm system similar to the geese in ancient Rome. This castle was the Shogun’s home, where he sat apart and above the others except for the hall
Kinkaku-ji buddhist temple Golden pavilion, Kyoto
where he received the Emperor’s legates, in which case he sat beneath them. All enacts at floor-level, including both sleeping and eating, and the reason for all shoe removal. The interior of the castle dons magnificent rooms. Their beauty lies in the coﬀered ceilings and the gold leaf screens of tigers and geese, herons and peacocks, as well as leopards (once believed to be female tigers).
The tour stopped next at the Imperial Palace, residence to the Emperor until 1869. It is a large walled, rectangular complex, complete with carriage porches and waiting rooms, halls for state ceremonies, and imperial audiences. Its exquisite garden encompasses a meandering stream spanned by earthen and stone bridges. The spacious inner courtyards touched me with their perfectly raked gravel, exuding an un-
touched stillness. I loved Sanjusangen-Do. Aligned along its lengthy temple hall are a thousand statues made of cypress, each with many arms holding symbolic objects either side of one central gigantic seated Buddha. I was in awe of their scale and geometry, their solemnity and grace. Fully absorbed, fellow passengers got back on the coach to sink into their seats.
I took myself straight oﬀ to the Arashiyama Hanatouro, a special seasonal celebration on the outskirts of the city. Billed as a ‘pathway of blossoms and light’, one strolls past flower arrangements and lanterns in a bamboo forest with illuminated walkways. Very refreshing and uplifting. The Hotel Kanra (www.hotelkanra.jp) became my next point of reference. It is well-located close to both the river and the station, and right beside the mammoth Higashi Hongan-ji temple. This magnificent edifice was built on an immense scale and contains two quiet, empty yet gargantuan halls. The hotel’s front doors opened with grace to a foyer decorated in Zen style with stunning lanterns and a beautiful bonsai tree. I loved my room, my ‘zen den’. All aesthetically pleasing as it came like a house with its little garden and with the corridor eﬀectively becoming an indoor street. I climbed two floors up a narrow staircase above a nearby downtown shop one evening to watch the Gear Theatre (www.gear.ac/en). It announces itself as “not a play, not a musical, not a circus but somewhere in between”. For it’s a non-verbal performance of robotic mime, magic, juggle, and dance. Superbly original and fun. I left Kyoto to travel further south to the Wakayama district and stayed at Hotel Souji-In (www.soujiin.or.
jp), a ‘shukubo’ temple lodging initially for itinerant monks but now taking tourists. It is an enchanting lodging with its own tranquil stone-raked zen garden. My suite of rooms had ‘tatami’ mats and ‘fusuma’ sliding doors of wood and heavy paper. From the monks’ cassocks of Koyasan I moved to the guests’ green dressing gowns of my new hotel, the family-friendly Kawayu Midoriya (www.kawayu-midoriya.jp). It has a geological thermal marvel that attracts the indigenous visitors to its natural ‘onsen’ on the Oto river. The Japanese bathed in the natural hot pools beneath the clear skies and bright stars at night and the mist in the morning as the clouds lift like curtains rising. Last but not least, I stayed at the luxurious Infinito Hotel Nanki-Shirahama (www.hotel-infinito.co.jp/en). It boasts both Japanese and Western-style suites and cuisine. Its real claim to fame, however, is the stunning panorama out to the ocean scattered with boats, rocks, and white-sanded beaches that attract the many Japanese holidaymakers... and me. I’ll be back! Honshu Island, Tokyo, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the French Michelin starred restaurant Signature. Right: Onsen or hot springs are a popular form of recreation in Japan.
The Japanese bathed in the natural hot pools beneath the clear skies and bright stars at night and the mist in the morning as the clouds lift like curtains rising.
by Adam Jacot de Boinod
Better to wash an old kimono than borrow a new one. (Japanese proverb) 54
K i m o n o
K y o t o
t o C a t w a l k
he Victoria and Albert Museum in London plans to open an exhibition “Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk” at some point later this year. I can’t wait to visit it. My recent trip to Japan leaves me feeling well prepared to unravel the secrets of this timeless article of clothing. Arriving in Tokyo, I wandered down the fashionable street of Otomesando. In and amongst the shops with names like Otomesando Hills (named referring to Beverly Hills) and out in force are strollers dressed in kimonos. They appear both outdoors and within; old and young; tourists and locals; men and women; traditional and designer; silk and synthetic; in summer and winter. Wherever I went in Japan, kimonos are enjoying a reassuring resurgence. Indeed, the first section of the V&A exhibition will shines a light on a fashion-conscious society, not all too dissimilar to that of today. The desire for the latest look was satiated by a cult of celebrity and encouraged by makers, sellers, and publishers alike. At the many touristic attractions I visited, young girls and trendy couples, both Asian as Western and fed by the Instagram revolution, took it in turns to be snapped in a kimono blending in with a temple in the background. In turn, they became part of the spectacle for me, making my picture in adding pattern and colour to the surroundings. Decked in unique socks, wooden clogs, and tortoiseshell hairpins, they fluttered their bamboo fans like strutting peacocks. The guys were far more than mere accessories, albeit more casual in their classic blue ‘yukata’ cotton versions. At one shop, the staﬀ even helped a customer dress to pose for her photo op complete with a parasol sitting on a ‘tatami’ mat. But the Instagram world knows no borders, and the appeal is truly international. Kimonos have inspired designers such as Saint Laurent and Galliano, the Björk dress by McQueen, and many Star Wars costumes. Kim Kardashian even planned to name her shapewear range Kimono. But the mayor of Kyoto wrote asking her to reconsider the trademark, so, in response to public pressure
on the charge of cultural appropriation, she said she would change the name. However, as of August 4th, 2019, the trademark filings remain active, but at least the name was changed to ‘skims’. In the last twenty years, the kimono has indeed undergone something of a revival. In the 1990s, the only place that you would see women wearing the kimono was at a tea ceremony or engaged in ‘ikebana’ flower arranging. Now, the young are becoming more interested, and there is an explosion of designers creating casual and quirky versions. Although most Japanese wear ‘yofuku’ - Western-style clothes, it was both easy and heartening for me to spot the T-shaped kimono replacing the T-shirt. For the residents of Osaka’s and Tokyo’s fashion-conscious centres, kimonos are equally on the up in a constant evolvement toward the iconic. There they were in restaurants, department stores, and even subways. Kyoto, the kimono’s spiritual home, was noticeably diﬀerent. Here more traditional and conservative versions were sported, seemingly more popular than ever as a symbol of high fashion and elegance for weddings, graduation receptions, and funerals. I popped into one temple and was allowed to witness, somewhat pruriently, a wedding service - the bride, in her traditional pure white kimono, had achieved an impossibly serene beauty.
“The minds of the latest generation are gradually shifting,” is the view of the founder of the menswear kimono line Y. & Sons. He wants to incorporate Japanese styles of dressing into everyone’s daily wardrobes, to mix things up. At his pristine store in Tokyo’s Kanda district, the staﬀ wears kimonos over polo-necks or buttoned-up shirts. Indeed Y. & Sons sell their bespoke kimonos from £300 alongside British-made Fox umbrellas and Comme des Garçons wallets: key assistants in the brand’s positioning as a contemporary product. The kimono is genuinely a top symbol of Japan, seen as traditional, timeless, and unchanging. It is most certainly alive and well. Sumo wrestlers have to wear them in public as, of course, a Geisha does at all times. I vainly searched for one. Told that if I hung out long enough in either of Kyoto’s famed alleyways of the Gion district – Pontocho or Hanmi Koji Dori – the geisha would surely lurch en-route to an assignment. But in fact, I needed to go to Miyagawa-cho on the outskirts between 5.30 and 6, when they set oﬀ for work. The kimono arrived in the 7th Century as a Chinese undergarment. Five centuries later, it became an elaborate outer garment. By the 14th century, the samurai adopted it but failed to censure the nouveau riche Edomites. By the mid-17th Century, the geisha allowed them to become entirely fashionable with wealthy merchant classes expressing their aﬄuence and leading actors and famous courtesans to set the trend. It was around this time that the kimono’s first exports to Europe took place with an instant eﬀect upon the clothing styles, as overseas fabrics were brought into Japan and incorporated into the kimono. Rare survivors from this early period of cultural exchange, including garments made in Japan for the Dutch and kimonos tailored from French brocade and Indian chintz, are on show in the exhibition. They reveal this fashion exchange between East and West. An excellent place to spot a traditional kimono is in
Kyoto, home of the geisha and still the centre of Japanese luxury production and craft. Even though the geisha total has dropped from 80,000 at its peak in the 1920s to around 5,000 today, I spotted two ‘maiko’ (geisha apprentices) here. They hopped into a taxi swanlike and in reverse. A by far more typical sight are the so-called kimono tourists. They travel from around the world to put on the traditional Japanese dress, hair, and make-up with the help of professional dressers at kimono rental stores. At one specialist rental shop, there was even one area for those only ‘5 feet tall’, not however referring to the 3-year-olds wearing silk for their traditional rite of passage festival. My hotel lent me the shorter male kimono that has got much greater freedom of movement. It provides ease similarly enjoyed by seniors whose tight ‘obi’ belt helps their posture by keeping them upright. The rise in kimono rental has coincided with a resurgence in the vintage market. Once, considered rather unkindly and strongly discouraged in Japan, was the wearing ‘old clothes’ or ‘other people’s clothes’. More recently, however, there has been an explosion in shops offering second-hand kimonos. At one vintage shop, I flicked through rows of hangers of various patterns, fabrics, and colours. They diﬀer according to the wearer’s age and occasion. The brightest are for the young and unmarried girls when celebrating their Coming of Age Day in January. It occurs the year they turn twenty, and their long sleeves denote that they are single. At the upper end of the vintage market, I found Konjaku Nishimura, a textile art dealer. His small shop in Kyoto’s antique district has just celebrated its 80th anniversary. It is a destination for high-end, investment-level kimonos, three of which feature
in the V&A’s exhibition. More than 10,000 tiny silk cocoons, each the size of a child's finger, are needed to make one formal kimono, which may cost up to £100,000. A good kimono lasts for generations and, rather than made to fit the wearer, is produced to a standard pattern. It becomes a family heirloom: forever, not rented for an afternoon or snapped for a second. The kimono allows women to feel powerful and feminine, both for all the right reasons. Mystical as to what may be underneath, the kimono somehow manages to capture the contours of the body. There are so much strength and fragility wrapped up in this one garment. A long line of designers, including Madeleine Vionnet, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Duro Olowu, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent, have all been in awe of the timeless ease of the kimono silhouette. Olowu’s belted wrap coat draws parallels between the kimono and the African ‘buba’. It’s one of more than 350 creations that will go on display at the exhibition. The final section at the V&A will demonstrate how the kimono continues even now to inspire fashion designers from around the world with designs by Thom Browne, Duro Olowu, and Yohji Yamamoto. The kimono’s timeless, universal quality has also made it the ideal costume for film and performance. The V&A display is to include Toshirō Mifune’s Sanjūrō outfit and the Oscar-winning costumes from Memoirs of a Geisha. And then there will be Madonna’s Jean Paul Gautier ensemble from her ‘Nothing Really Matters’ video. As the curator of the V&A exhibition says in her oﬃcial statement ‘From the sophisticated culture of 17th Century Kyoto to the creativity of the contemporary catwalk, the kimono is unique in its aesthetic importance and cultural impact giving it a fascinating place within the story of fashion.’ An impact that will endure forever - rather like the owners of these family heirloom
A Robot with
heart !soul by Dr Ulrike Tomalla
eorg Hornemann, the great German jewellery artist, has created a sparkling testimonial of Astroboy, the small manga figure. But who is behind this robot boy with the superpowers? Almost unknown in Europe, he is, however, much more than a pop culture icon in his home country of Japan. The two could hardly be more diﬀerent. Georg Hornemann usually dons an elegant dark suit with braces over a pristine white shirt. His silver-grey hair and stern look are not typical traits associated with pop manga figures such as Astroboy. And yet, taking a closer look at the work of this Düsseldorf resident artist, the supposed contradiction is quickly resolved. For his passion and devotion to fairy tale books has opened his eyes to the realms of mystification. In his world, mysterious and strange creatures come to life through his jewellery designs. The answer to the question as to why Hornemann chose Astroboy is quite simple. “When I first saw the character, I was instantly captivated not only by his appearance but even more so by his story. Astroboy is so much more than merely a robot boy with superpowers. He makes one think about who and what we are or what and how we wish to be. And these are aspects that also play a role in the fashion and jewellery worlds”. It is the year 2003. Devastated after the death of his only child, the brilliant scientist Dr Tenma comes up with a far-reaching plan. Enlisting the help of modern
technology, he creates an android that looks almost identical to his son so that he should comfort him to deal with this painful loss. But as can be expected, his calculations are slightly oﬀ. This little robot boy cannot replace his lost son. Disappointed and disillusioned, Tenma sells him to a circus. But fate means well. Thanks to his superpowers, Astroboy is liberated and given a new task: from now on this little hero is to fight crime successfully. Tetsu wan Atomu (literally translated this means ‘Iron Atom’), is Astroboys Japanese name. He is a cult figure in his homeland where practically no one is unaware of the little robot with sleek spiky hair and beautiful red boots. He was invented 63 years ago by the learned medical doctor and draftsman Osamu Tezuka. Considered the founder of the modern manga, his fans refer to him as the ‘Manga God’. But Astroboyis so much more than merely a simple manga figure: This little tin man embodies the Japanese dream of a human-robot to this day. Six years lie between Japan’s defeat in the Second World War – with the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and Tezuka’s invention. When the Allies withdrew in 1952, censorship also came to an end. Numerous new manga publishing companies were hence founded, creating the best conditions for a talented artist with new and fresh ideas. The most famous of Japanese heroes thus went into production the following year. The topic of Tezuka’s story undoubtedly played a
When I first saw the character, I was instantly captivated not only by his appearance but even more so by his story. Astroboy is so much more than merely a robot boy with superpowers. He makes one think about who and what we are or what and how we wish to be. 62
Georg Hornemann, â€˜Astroboyâ€™ (moveable), 2007, 406 black diamonds, 14.76 ct., 548 pink coloured sapphires, 16.07 ct. and 42 green tsavorites, 2.03 ct., yellow gold 750/000, height 11 cm. Photo Courtesy Georg Hornemann KG Berlin
the centuries many illustrious figures with whom Astroboy can univocally stand shoulder to shoulder have arisen in literature and later on in film. From Ovid’s statue of sculptor Pygmalion to the ancient legendary Jewish figure of the Golem and the Homunculus; from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Terminator, or the Android Data from Star Trek. Humans developed many of these artificial beings for the greater good and against evil. And yet, already in Golem’s history, the condensation that took place throughout the Romantic period and that continues to determine film history to date becomes apparent. There is the thematisation of loss of control over the created creature – a form of terror and threat that depicts a dark picture of the future. Subjecting the human race to artificial beings are scenarios that seem by far more exciting than the depiction of reliable and trusting companions such as Astroboy. And yet: Astroboy’s success remains unbroken. To this day, the sounds of the animé melody accompany the trains entering and exiting the busy Takadanobaba subway station. The list of consumer goods inspired by Tezuka’s character is also long. One finds everything from simple children’s toys to the marketing of security systems or cars. In the spring of 2014, Toyota presented its colourful and emotionally appealing new design causing a sensation. Their chief designer explained it: It had a cartoon character as its godfather. And not just any - the little robot Astroboy, whose perfect mix of man and machine has, for over half a century, stood for technological progress in Japan. Astroboy never turns on man. Instead, his fight is one against crime, serving and protecting humanity unconditionally. Behind the supposedly altruistic behaviour of this small robot, however, lies a highly unusual wish. Although he was born flawlessly, like an ‘inverted Pinocchio’, he nevertheless craves imperfection so that he may be closer and more homogenous with homo sapiens. He would love to be one of us. Astroboy is more than aware of his robotic nature. It is a clear sign of his artificial intelligence, distinguishing him from all other robots in his world and thus making him so attractive in ours. The little tin man can think logically and feels the diﬀerence between good and evil. He is also capable of experiencing the highest of human feelings with robot girl Ryoka: Love. Astroboy may come with a nuclear power plant in his chest. But when the little hatch opens, his small yet big heart shines brightly amidst the wiring.
decisive role in the great success. The Japanese people had just experienced a more than dark past. The little futuristic hero served as hope for the future of a country in which justice and peace reign. But Astroboy does not only score in moral terms. His seven superpowers symbolise technological superiority. Feet with jet engines incorporated for flying, eyes that double as searchlights, a brilliant computer brain, a small nuclear power plant in his chest... These are no accident. On the day of the capitulation, Japan’s prime minister himself formulated the reasons for defeat: The Japanese people lacked the necessary science and technology. The promotion of scientific education was henceforth declared a governmental task. Tezuka later stated that his stories about Astroboy were his contribution toward helping Japan overcome their inferiority complex in terms of science and technology. For Japan’s nuclear program, Tezuka’s figure represented a stroke of luck. As early as the mid-50s, the countries elite had agreed that the only way to advance the country’s technology was to use nuclear energy. Remained only to convince the people and the friendly comic hero seemed destined for this big task. He already had the term ‘Atomu’ as part of his name and a nuclear power plant in his chest. Astroboy was thus able to make a significant contribution to the positive reinterpretation of technology that until now had only brought death and devastation. Of perhaps even greater importance is Astroboy’s involvement with robotics research. After Tezuka successfully converted the tin hero from the printed manga into animé format, there followed, 20 years later in the 1980s, a new edition of the cartoon series. At this point, the development of humanoid robots was booming in Japan. Many of today’s leading scientists have grown up with Atomu. For them – as for future generations – Tezuka’s hero represents an ideal role model that sustainably inspires their imagination. Robotics researchers and Japanologists agree that without the inspiration of Astroboy, Honda’s ‘Asimo’ - the world’s most intelligent human-made robot – would not exist today. Be it reality or fiction or in the form of multi-billion-dollar investments into robot research. Whether it is a discussion about embryonic stem cells or the recently rising trend toward science fiction series, all accumulate in the more than current dream of an artificial human. The human need to create a living body is, however, by no means a modern phenomenon, but has a history that dates back thousands of years. Its origins lie in ancient Egypt, explained by the pure human envy of gods, whose unearthly abilities are unlimited by nature. Throughout
Above, Georg Hornemann. Courtesy Georg Hornemann KG Berlin. Photo by J-M Sobottka
USA President Donald Trump walks with the Saudi Arabiaâ€™s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 14th March 2017
Oil Geopolitics The history of relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia by Mauro della Porta Raffo
14th February 1945. The day it all began on board the USS Quincy Cruiser, anchored at the Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal. It marked the first fundamental highest-level meeting between the leaders of the United States of America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On the one hand, the recently inaugurated – for the fourth-time – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (in oﬃce from 4th March 1933, to 12th April 1945), just returning from the Yalta Conference. He was, however, exhausted by his many heart and circulatory disease conditions, that would sadly lead to his death just a couple of months later. On the other, Ren Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al Saud, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1932-1953). He founded it on 23th September 1932, unifying the Kingdoms of Hejaz and Nejd and the Regions of Al Ahsa and Al Qatif. If, in fact, diplomatic relations between the United States and the Saudis date back to 1931 (when Abdulaziz Al Saud was still Sovereign of the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd), and the first economic-commercial ties gradually strengthened initially with an assignment to the Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) in a concession to explore Saudi Territory in search of oil (1933), then with the discovery of the first, major oil field in Dhahran (1938) by the California-Arabian Standard Oil Company (CASOC) – a local subsidiary of SOCAL, which became the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) in 1944 and was subsequently progressively nationalised by the Saudis, until they renamed it Saudi Aramco in 1988 –, only during the Second World War (1939-1945) did the strategic importance of this relationship become clear to both the Americans, driven by a sudden need for exceptional quantities of hydrocarbons, and to the Saudis, in need of a strong ally that would defend them militarily from assaults by the Axis powers, which had partially destroyed the Dhahran oil plant.
In May 1942 Roosevelt, therefore, resolved to open the first US Embassy on Saudi territory, in Jeddah. On 16th February 1943, he declared that “the defence of Saudi Arabia is vital for the defence of the United States”. He pledged to rebuild the oil plants and to protect the Muslim pilgrims' routes to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in exchange for air transit authorisation and the installation of US airbases in Saudi. Two years later, on Valentine's day and nearing the end of the conflict, the US President and the Saudi monarch laid the foundations for a long-term marriage of interest. While firmly denying his approval of any plans to return the Jewish people to the Holy Land, Abdulaziz Al Saud entered into an agreement with Roosevelt that over the following decades – despite some inevitable divergences that sometimes caused tension – would prove to be somewhat profitable for both parties. From then on, the United States would guarantee Saudi Arabia’s military security (through the sale of weapons, the training of local soldiers, and the direct supervision of some strategic areas). In turn, this would guarantee the Americans an ascertained and constant oil supply. This agreement strengthened and crystallised during the Truman Administration (1945-1953). The Mutual Defence and Assistance Agreement of 16th June 1951 proved particularly valuable during the Cold War (1947-1991). Its view of a Soviet containment strategy became a priority both for the Americans and Saudis. The Americans were strenuously committed to countering the expansion of communist influence in the Middle East and the Saudis worried by the possible penetration of revolutionary ideologies that could overturn their power. Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ascended the throne (1953-1964) upon his father's death, to nonetheless on
several occasions, not disdain from approaching the pro-Communist Arab deployment led by Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser. Ties with the United States were hence loosened slightly, only to return to strength upon Saudiâ€™s protection request following the Egyptian attacks against them. These oďŹ€ensives needed a further deployment of troops, in the context of the Civil War in Northern Yemen (1962 - 1979), against the pro-Soviet revolutionaries supported by Nasser.
President Roosevelt's meeting with King Ren Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on board the USS-Quincy Cruiser, off Djedda
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961-1963) responded by sending warplanes to defend the Saudi Kingdom and the US regional interests, thus regaining the Arab country for the pro-western front. The two countries further confirmed their cooperation under Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (19641975), who forced his brother to abdicate and replaced him. It was a strategic function based on the elaboration of Richard Nixon’s (1969-1974) Doctrine in the aftermath of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, confirming Saudi Arabia and Iran as the two main pro-Western Arab presidia in the Middle East. It suﬀered a sudden setback on 20th October 1973, when the Saudi Monarch decided to adhere to the OPEC approved oil embargo against the United States. The US support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War (1973) thus triggered a severe energy crisis throughout the West. Relations between the two countries, however, did not wholly cease. Shortly after lifting the embargo on 17th March 1974, they once again strengthened under a new agreement of broad and intense economic-military cooperation. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (1975-1982) confirmed this upon his crowning. The full aﬃrmation of this system linked by the so-called petrodollar dates back to the same time. Accordingly, the Saudis – followed by all OPEC members – agreed to price their oil exclusively in dollars, in exchange for military protection. During 1979, the year in which the Khomeinist Revolution first ousted the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 11th February, the two countries further strengthened their agreement. The Saudi Kingdom was to become the sole survivor in the role of major pro-Western Arab bulwark in the Middle East. When the Soviet Union then invaded Afghanistan (24th December), they induced a large and heterogeneous line-up to support the resistance of the Mujahidin until 1989 in an anti-Soviet function. Among them, also a young and enterprising Saudi fighter, Osama bin Laden. Supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia, he would distinguish himself among the best commanders of the anti-Communist resistance, at first leading the ‘Maktab al-Khidamat’ and then ‘Al Qaeda’. In the 1980s, the geopolitical context brought the two powers even closer through the so-called ‘Carter Doctrine’. According to President Jimmy Carter’s (1977-1981) State of the Union Address on 23 January 1980 – words subsequently made own by Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) – with a particular reference to the Saudi Arabian defence: “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary,
including military force”. Mainly with an anti-Iranian and anti-Iraqi interest in mind, the Americans, therefore, provided the Saudis with first-level armaments as well as training their military and the local militia. This cooperation reached its peak during the Gulf War (1990-1991) when King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (1981-2005) accepted George Herbert W. Bush's (1989-1993) proposal. As part of the ‘Desert Shield’ operation (1990-1991), over half a million US troops were stationed on Saudi soil to protect from a possible Iraqi invasion. Joined by 100 000 Saudi's, they then fought side by side against Saddam Hussein’s men in the rapid and successful ‘Desert Storm’ (1991) operation. American soldiers remained on Saudi soil to guard the territory even after the conflict ended. It was, however, precisely this which fuelled the anti-American resentment of some of the extremist organisations. Included amongst these was Osama bin Laden’s ‘Al Qaeda’. Hailed a hero in February 1989 for his contribution to Anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan, Bin Laden in the aftermath of the Kuwaiti invasion had the opportunity to meet King Fahd. He oﬀered to lead his legions of Arab fighters to defend the Kingdom from the Iraqi threat. Instead, he faced rejection in favour of the Americans. The jihadist leader thus publicly denounced the American 'infidel' desecration of Saudi Arabia, in particular of the Islamic Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina. He subsequently accused the Monarchy of collaboration with the invader and treason against the professed Wahhabis Confession. Expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, first sheltered by Sudan and then by Afghanistan, Bin Laden transformed his guerrillas into authentic terrorists. In 1996 he issued a ‘fatwa’, declaring war on the United States, accusing them of having in eﬀect colonised the ‘Land of the Two Holy Places’. Bin Laden made particular reference to the 'Southern Watch' operation (1992-2003) during which the United States presided over Saudi airspace following the Gulf War to prevent new attacks by Iraq. Osama bin Laden is, therefore, responsible for creating the most profound crisis in the relational history of these two countries. Not only did he organise a series of violent terrorist attacks against the United States, first abroad – of uttermost significance the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (7 August 1998) – and then directly on US soil, with the devastating 11 September 2001, attacks. These were carried out by nineteen Al Qaeda members, fifteen of whom were of Saudi heritage. The ascertainment of circumstances, in combination with the poor Saudi collaboration in the pursuit of those responsible, brought some of the most profound diﬀerences between the two countries to light. Saudi
World Trade Center, New York City terrorist attack, 11th September 2001
Terrorism does not belong to any culture or religion or political system. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Walker Bush administration (2001-2009) as, initially, with the one chaired by Barack Obama (2009-2017). In fact, in 2010, the Saudis purchased American armaments worth over sixty billion dollars. In the following years, however, relations between the two countries once again cooled down. This as a result of the innovative shale gas and oil extraction development techniques that were making the United States less dependant on Saudi fields, and because of Obama’s long pursued attempt to ease relations with Iran (given a proposed gradual US disengagement from the Middle East). The signing of the Iranian nuclear power deal in Vienna on 14 July 2015, was the jewel in the crown. Even if there were suspicions about possible cooperation’s between the Saudi Monarchy and terrorist groups engaged in the Syrian Civil War (ongoing since 2011). ‘Al Qaeda’ and the Islamic State herein included. Through the Saudis, they would have had the opportunity to seize powerful US-made weapons. Another heavy burden on relations between the two states was the ‘Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act’. The US congress Act of 28th September 2016, superseded the previous presidential veto. This provision allows, among other things, the family members of the 11th September 2001 victims to request compensation – in civil proceedings – from Saudi Arabia, suspected of financially supporting Al Qaeda. If therefore at the end of Obama's second term relations between the United States and Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's (since 2015) Saudi state had somewhat deteriorated, then the advent of Donald Trump's presidency in 2017 once again brought the two together. Only four months after his inauguration, Trump authorised a colossal arms deal (worth a hundred and ten billion dollars immediately and a further three
Arabia, at the time, faced a strong anti-American local public opinion. Diﬃculties do not surprise when combining an entirely secular state like the United States with a confessional one like Saudi Arabia. It is a country whose beliefs have always been intimately linked (since their foundation) to Wahabism, an extremist faction of Sunni Islam that explicitly favours Jihad. Due to various suspicions that some members of the Saudi royal family supported ‘Al Qaeda’ – although never confirmed – resulted in an evident cooling oﬀ in relations between the two countries. This situation was confirmed by Saudi Arabia when they declared their opposition to the Iraqi War (2003-2011). Nevertheless, following a series of attacks on Saudi soil by Bin Laden's men between 2003 and 2004, the link gradually began to strengthen again. It became a joint fight against the collective terrorist threat. The International Anti-Terrorism Conference hosted in Riyadh in 2005 consecrated this turn of events. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (2005-2015) had just ascended the throne. He opened the conference by proclaiming that “terrorism does not belong to any culture or religion or political system”. He thus animated his country to return alongside their historical partner. Nevertheless, King Abdullah, aware of the changes taking place on the international stage, also took care to broaden his network of alliances. In particular, he strengthened his relations with China, concluding a cooperation agreement for the use of atomic energy for civilian purposes. He also entered into a deal with Russia for the development of new Saudi gas fields. The collaboration with the United States, nonetheless, continued fruitfully. Both under the George
hundred and fifty billion over ten years). The preceding tenant of the White House had previously blocked the Saudi’s because of their conduct in the Yemenis’ Civil War (ongoing since 2015). They allegedly perpetrated numerous and aberrant war crimes against civilians and the local archaeological heritage. Of equal significance is the current US administration's attitude toward the assassination of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate of Istanbul on 2nd October 2018. According to CIA conclusions, allegedly by agents of the Saudi government on the mandate of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud whom Khashoggi had on several occasions heavily criticised. Indeed, Trump immediately rejected the outcome of the CIA investigation. He confirmed the solidity of the US - Saudi alliance at the G20 summit in Osaka in June 2019, not hesitating to shake hands with Prince Mohammad bin Salman in front of the cameras. However, Trump's approach to foreign policy, based on the almost exclusive pursuit of US interests, is often at the expense of its allies. It has thus also brought the Saudis some unexpected diﬃculties. Initially, they were enthusiastic about the current President’s toughness toward Iran. In particular regarding the announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement so strongly desired by his predecessor Obama (8th May 2018). They were, however subsequently, most astonished by the substantial disinterest the US showed toward the Middle Eastern scenario in general. Forced to face the Persian power and its attacks on Aramco
deposits in Saudi Arabia as equals, it induced them to open an arduous and unprecedented diplomatic route with Tehran. All to avoid a crescendo of hostility with an outcome diﬃcult to predict. Within this framework, Trump – without previously consulting or informing the Saudis – overthrew the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani (3th January 2020), an influential strategist of the Islamic Republic. He was killed by a drone, causing unexpectedness and destabilisation. Despite their relief concerning the elimination of a dangerous enemy commander, Riyadh remained fearful of the possible Persian reaction. Therefore, they have continuously worked to prevent a new explosive conflict in the Middle East. They endeavour both to dampen the warlike American proclamations and to protect the fragile diplomatic channels that have meanwhile painstakingly opened with Tehran. Three-quarters of a century after that first historic meeting onboard the USS Quincy, the agreement reached between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abdulaziz Al Saud is still substantially valid. Even if organically less so than it once was. If from an economic and commercial point of view the United States and Saudi Arabia manage to maintain their equally beneficial relationship, then the world scenario – inclusive of certain divergences pertaining to the approach toward Islamic terrorism – has evolved, even if weakened compared to the height of their partnership in the 80s and 90s. There is, however, a paradoxical side eﬀect. Made possible, although not yet probable, the gradual easing of relations between the leading Middle Eastern powers, are notwithstanding, no longer linked to their international historical patron.
An official meeting ceremony for the heads of delegations from the G20 member countries, Osaka, Japan. 28th June, 2019
Arabia A contrasting bond by Mauro della Porta Raffo
Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik (1921). Right, Candice Bergen in The Wind and the Lion, (1975)
nitially, we looked at the Arab world as that of A Thousand and One Nights (partly Arab, partly Persian, but mostly Egyptian), exoticism and adventure. The figure of the sheikh united to one of the knights of the chansons de geste: heroic, erotic, indomitable. Hence the myth of Rudolph Valentino ‘The Sheikh’, 1921, his greatest success – transcribed to the feuilleton version by Federico Fellini – The White Sheikh, 1952. That is, at least until the appearance of Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962, large Columbia Pictures production). The Arab imagination of Hollywood is positive, even if after the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 – supported by western powers – the fascination is no longer reciprocal. In 1975 with The Wind and the Lion John Milius wrote a valuable chapter of cinematic history. It recalls the figurehead Theodore Roosevelt, and his relationship with Mulay Ahmad al-Raysūnī often named the Raisuli. He, however, must be remembered, was Berber, not an Arab.
Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
to Arabia Indeed, he fought against the regime of the (Arab) sultan of Morocco. The few links with Saudi Arabia are all recent. We should remember that from 1983 to 2018, cinemas were banned and closed in the Saudi country. For thirty-five years no logistic industry developed to favour recovery, neither of foreign nor domestic productions. In the ‘zero’s’ things changed a little. The beautiful war thriller The Kingdom (2007) was filmed in Saudi Arabia, directed by Peter Berg and produced by Michael Mann. Meanwhile, raiding the Arabian Peninsula, although set in Jordan, Ridley Scott’s No Truth (2008) with Leonardo DiCaprio. The Alien and Blade Runner director often refers to it as one of his favourite movies. Moving into the 90s (think of James Cameron's True Lies, 1994), the ‘Arab’ and by extension, the Muslim, become synonymous with ‘terrorist’ in Hollywood. The exotic aura of early days and that of an anti-Soviet ally in the 1980s is lost. Think 007: The Living Daylights (1987), and Rambo 3 (1988). Fast Forward to 2001 and September 11 and this trend becomes chronic. The controversial – yet superbly done – William Friedkin's The Rules of Engagement (2000) partially set in Yemen, opened the dance ahead of its time. Today even espionage stories set in the area are losing interest. On the other hand, (financial) credit openings were granted by Saudi Arabia for international productions, and a woman born in the province of Riyadh – Haifaa al-Mansour – was able to produce a successful film: The gGreen Bicycle (2012). Left: Jamie Foxx, Ashraf Barhom and Ali Suliman in The Kingdom (2007). Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies (1994). Maryam D'Abo in 007: The Living Daylights (1987). Tommy Lee Jones in The Rules of Engagement (2000). Waad Mohammed in The Green Bicycle (2012)
The best of them won't come for money, they'll come for me.
Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O'Toole)
a n t a
a k y a
by Iwana Krause
History describes what has happened, poetry what might. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and serious than history; for poetry speaks of what is universal, history of what is particular. Aristotle
was a 10-year project that reawakened an archaeological marvel. Rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, the Museum Hotel Antakya brings 2,300 years of history back to life. Today its heritage is combined with the luxuries of the modern-day. Luxurious accommodation, fine dining, and exquisite recreation allow the past to revere and the future to jubilate. Ancient Antioch was considered the ‘cradle of Christianity’ by the New Testament. The city’s geographical location was perfectly positioned in proximity to the Silk Road, eventually rivalling Alexandria as the most important city of the Near East. Once the Roman Empires third largest city, its ruins partially lie beneath the modern Turkish town of Antakya. Located on the Orontes River, around 20 km from the Levantine Sea, the capital of the Turkish Hatay Province never imagined the wonders that lay beneath. When the Asfuroglu family broke ground for their
new Hotel in Antakya, the discovery they made was to change this region forever, oﬀering an archaeological gift of unparalleled wonder. It became a project that managed to bring the past to life. As a part of the preliminary 2-month investigation into the site, the initial discoveries were of incredible magnitude. A total of 29 wells were hence excavated by hand to preserve the wonders within. An expansion to the entire 17,132 m2 area took place as the land began to reveal its secrets: the first systematic excavation in Turkey since the 1930s. The removal of 100,000 m3 of soil revealed one of the 21st Centuries most unique treasures. They are lying at the foot of St Pierre, the world’s first cave church, a nonpareil of incredible value. Therein appeared a 300 BC wall, the world’s most giant intact floor mosaic, Roman baths, and 30,000 artefacts (glassware, coins, and jewellery among others). All elements once again allowed to rise, telling the story of humanity.
It is a story that began with Eros, the Greek god of love, passion, and physical desire. He arrived as a perfectly preserved rendition: A 70 cm marble statue that dates back to around 200 AD, representing the archaeological site’s first significant discovery. For ‘those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’, he appeared like a messenger telling a futuristic story – that lead on a straight path to Pegasus. The oﬀspring of Olympian god Poseidon appears in full glory under glass in the hotel’s lobby. It is an impeccably intact mosaic that from a historic point is considered highly unusual – it includes the artists signature. But it also features 160 shades of natural plant dyed stones that create an almost photographic detail. The story continues with frescoes of one of the twelve Olympian gods – Apollo, the god of archery, healing and medicine, music and poetry. Leader of the Muses, all nine are also included: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Terpsichore (dance & chorus), Thalia (comedy & pastoral poetry), and Urania (astronomy). The nethermost discovery appeared 8.5 meters below ground. Dating back to the 2nd Century, it includes the first know depiction of Hesiod. This epodic Greek poet who practised his trade between 750 and 650 BC was one of Homer’s contemporaneousness. He received poetic inspiration from Calliope who was considered the ‘Chief of all Muses’. There are also 5th Century roman baths whose pipes that once allowed the hot water to flow beneath to warm the marble hammam floors are exposed. And
another mosaic stemming from a roman villa of the same century features Megalopsychia, better known as Magnanimity, or ‘the greatness of soul’. For “virtue lies in our power, and similarly so does vice; because where it is in our power to act, it is also in our power not to act …” (Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics). The Museum Hotel Antakya has acted and created an archaeological marvel like non-other. It is a historical account of incredible heritage, combined with creativity to create a community. Designed to sit above the ancient site without disrupting it in the slightest, it rests upon 66 steel columns that are each placed meticulously around the dig. A network of open-air walkways and struts crisscross their way to hold up the lobby. Five restaurants, a ballroom and meeting rooms, a spa and fitness centre, as well as 200 guest rooms, surround and complete the entirety. These rooms are suspended above the site, almost as if they were floating upon this historic venue. Thirty-eight of them boast balconies that overlook the excavation, and the others look out across town into the faraway mountains perched in the background. It is indeed a hotel constructed with absolute modernity on a site that is as old as history itself. The fact that 400 of the 30,000 artefacts are on display at the hotels interconnecting Necmi Ashoglu Archaeological Museum named for the family patriarch is a testament to history. Because as Aristotle has stated: “History describes what has happened, poetry what might. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and serious than history; for poetry speaks of what is universal, history of what is particular”.
A designer for every occasion
Simon Copeland has been designing elegant occasionwear for a loyal and discerning list of private clients for over 25 years. Initially specialising solely in haute couture, he opened his first shop on Queenstown Road in London. Here he exhibited his annual 'Season Collection', building up a Rolodex of private and loyal clients. An incredible accomplishment before moving to a second shop along the Fulham Road and launching his prĂŞt-Ă -porter Range 'SC'. Nevertheless, he continues to design from his studio in Battersea. His designs are not merely individual, but also, occasion-befitting. Simon invites his clients to view pieces of his existing Collections so that he may translate them into silhouettes that answer personal and particular requirements. The result is simple and to the point - genuinely bespoke. 92
His philosophy has always been a marriage of sumptuous fabrics with exquisite tailoring, combined with an acute sense of proportion and balance. Inspired by the world around him and that of history of art, his design ethos seeks harmony within creativity and style. His clients view their wardrobes as essential tools that enable them to focus wholeheartedly on the demands expected of them. Layd back and relaxed confidence achieves an engagement of expectations with far greater success, whether an international opera singer, diplomat or mother of the bride (or groom). 95
All hands on
Dynamiq deck 96
by Mauro della Porta Raffo
Dynamiq reinvents the 50-metre Yacht class with its new GTT 160
Dynamiq GTT 160
n consideration of Nabil N. Jamal’s thoughts that “There will always be rough days and easy ones. Like a ship, we must sail through both” – the Dynamiq range of configurable superyachts is growing further after the yard revealed the first details of its forthcoming GTT 160 project. This avant-garde, full-aluminium 49.5–metre vessel represents Dynamiq’s thinking. Cool-looking, eﬃcient, and focused on sport and well-being; it embodies the essential elements of the company’s modern superyachts. It aims to fulfil today’s active owners’ dreams, who wish to experience a variety of diﬀerent destinations. Whether it be to cross the Atlantic quickly or to transport passengers from the Med to the Caribbean. This yacht ensures endless summers on a more manageable and economic size. Under the guiding principles of Dobroserdov Design, the GTT 160 oﬀers a racy and contemporary style with luxurious accommodation for up to 12 guests in six cabins and crew quarters for up to eight staﬀ. The master stateroom enjoys a pride of place on the main forward deck and features two sizeable fixed side balconies. The vast galley, complete with a breakfast bar, is designed for use by both a professional chef as family cooking in the company of friends.
Dynamiq GTT 160
Wandering to the upper deck, passengers arrive in a cinema lounge with a 75-inch screen, as well as a bar area. The adjoining sun deck hosts a second helm position from which the views are breath-taking, providing ample space for the sun worshippers amongst us. Unusually and a first for a superyacht is the main afterdeck conception as a massive beach club of 120 square metres. It holds a hot tub for 12, an enclosed spa area with a sauna, hammam, and a 40 sqm convertible gymnasium (with space for a massage table). All features typically found on vessels twice her size. The GTT 160 not only looks impressive, but also features advanced onboard technology. Dynamiq’s long term partner and Dutch hydrodynamic specialist Van Oossanen Naval Architects designed the fast-displacement hull. With an aft hull fitted in Vane foil for extra lift, the yacht decreases drag underway and hence improves fuel eﬃciency. As
What was the idea behind the GTT 160? The idea was to create the most attractive proposal for a superyacht of just under 50 metres. We asked ourselves, ‘What can we bring to the market that makes more sense for our clients?’ The answer was to focus on modern owners’ priorities and leave the less important things aside. So, we decided to design the GTT 160 with the accent on the key factors: well-being, eﬃciency, and price. In terms of naval architecture, we selected a slender hull with a long waterline that is much more eﬃcient and comforta-
a result, the GTT 160 can achieve a top speed of 17 knots when fitted with modest MAN 6-cylinder (537 kW) engines. Transatlantic crossings are possible running at 14 knots, and the maximum range at an economical speed of 10 knots is 4,000 nautical miles. For those who desire to prioritise speed, they can upgrade to the S version, which will oﬀer a more powerful pair of MAN V12-1800 engines for a top speed of 23 knots. The optional hybrid system with zero-emission electric mode can provide silent cruising at a velocity up to 8 knots. In order to complete this marvellous package, a meticulous consideration of further transportation was a must. Apart from the fact that the GTT 160 houses a 21-foot tender in the forward garage, it is also equipped with a touch-and-go helipad platform with a maximum take-oﬀ weight of 3,000 kg. This yacht is a stunning concept created under the guiding principles of Sergei Dobroserdov, Dynamiq’s CEO and founder, who explains as follows:
ble than a short, wide one. So rather than maximising the interior volume, we analysed everything an owner wants or needs in terms of general arrangement and features. We then arrived at a concept that provides the motion comfort of a 55-metre yacht with a conventional flared bow. Sustainability. What is your point of view? For the GTT 160, and Dynamiq as a whole, we consider sustainability as one of the key aspects when building the next generation yachts. Our clients care significantly about their carbon footprint. Looking at it practically, the fewer emotions there are onboard, the more enjoyment a cruise creates. For this reason, we not only promote modern technologies such as hybrid power plants but, in principle, attempt to design more eﬃcient yachts on the whole. This concept means smaller engines, which then again translates to reduced fuel consumption and as a bonus, less noise, and vibra-
tion. It is certainly worth investing in advanced naval architecture to gain these multiple benefits. These are diﬃcult and unprecedented times. What are your views on our world post-COVID-19? Will taking to the seas become even more fashionable? One certainty we have is that bad times come and go. For us, the fact that it takes on average two years to build a yacht is of utmost importance. We believe that no one is ever too clever when making this kind of decision far in advance. In any case, there is no better vacation, no better way of life than cruising with your friends and relatives on board a private yacht. Our clients know this and look far ahead. As anticipation seems to be a part of your DNA, what future projects may we look forward to at Dynamiq? At Dynamiq we aim to continually identify new niches where there is either very little or nothing at all on oﬀer. These types of reflections have, for example, brought us the idea of creating an extraordinary boat for markets that have quite challenging climates, such as the Middle East or Asia. In these types of locations, excessive humidity, sand storms, or heat may create real problems. It is surprising that most yachts are designed for the clear skies of the Mediterranean and thus in no way appropriate for any other type of weather condition. In light of this, we decided to create a mid-sized boat of 27-metres (GTM 90) that not only serves for fabulous entertainment but also protects guests, whatever the weather. The main aft deck and sun deck provide ample space for lounging. The beach club, the spa, dining area, or open-style galley with bar can all be transformed through foldable bulwarks to allow a fresh sea breeze to enter. The striking exterior styling recalls the lines of modern supercars, and a more than eﬃcient hard chine hull delivers top speeds of 30+ knots with a range of 800nm at 17 knots. The development of the first edition of the GTM 90 is in collaboration with leading VIP-car tuner Klassen. The interior decor mirrors the exclusive designs of Klassen vans, with diﬀerent leathers, rich wood panelling, and elegant LED courtesy lights. Klassen will equally be responsible for all of the exterior detailing, including leather supply, stitching, and other special automotive design features. Dynamiq GTT 160 Prices begin at € 19,900,000.
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unsolved. Santosh Kalwar
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