Guest editor: Ignas Survila
2017 Octoberâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;December | Free magazine
CREATIVE NORTHERN ENERGY
Before the Big Bang it was quite boring indeed. But in that moment, movement was initiated and ever since, for 13.8 billion years, we have kept moving and are showing no signs of fatigue.
N WIND is the movement of New North. We encourage exchanges of creative Northern energy. Free magazine Events People
Guest-editor Ignas Survila Movement Photography by Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė The magazine is distributed in public places in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and online at issuu.com/n_wind ISSN 2424-5895 2017, No. 13 Circulation: 8500
Text editing by Anna Reynolds Anna Reynolds is an academic editor and translator, who greatly enjoys working with people who have something to say. She lives in Riga and will be glad to hear from you. Get in touch on Skype: reynoldsae
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Authors Julijonas Urbonas, Michael Hardt, Ignas Survila, Giedrė Stabingytė, Rihards Funts, Lithuanian Design Forum, Dr. Gabija Toleikytė, Karolis Vyšniauskas, Kaisa Kahu, Kintija Teilāne, Alfredas Buiko.
Photography by Gedvilė Tamošiūnaitė
Curated by Giedrė Stabingytė Andrius Skalandis
MEET IGNAS SURVILA: OUR GUEST EDITOR AND MAN ON THE MOVE Giedrė Stabingytė Co-founder of N WIND ‘I have not stopped running since childhood, when my grandma used to always call me to “Slow down!” and “Think before doing…”.’ And so we run into our collaboration. Only to find out that time is elastic and development is not to be framed: ‘It’s all about creativity and its power to take you on a long ride if needed.’ N WIND
What does movement mean for you? Why is this theme important?
I believe that many things stem from our unconscious. I am always on the move. Acting, acting, acting with not enough of a pause or a full stop, even now I was about to call it ‘stagnation’. I guess that shows my attitude, ha!
Right. Ignas Survila is a Lithuanian designer and one of the moving force behind the bright orange kickscooter Pigeon—definitely not another grey bird—and the whole Citybirds family: the upscale Raven, the electric bird Eagle, and the adorable child-powered Colibri. Having received prestigious awards, such as the Red Dot Award, the A’Design Award, the Core77 Design Award, and winning the Lithuanian national Creative Business Cup Award in 2015 should certainly give his legs the strength to kick even harder on his next ride. Featuring streamlined forms, a comfortable shoulder-fit for carrying, bright colours, and a nice price at 154,99 €, Pigeon trail-blazed its way to success; initially via the Kickstarter platform in 2014, fundraising the necessary amount to develop a manufacturer’s prototype and produce the first ‘pigeons’. His successful Kickstarter debut put Ignas on the map, and within months a handshake sealed his partnership with Michel Barro, president of Swiss Etic SA—an engineering company in Geneva. ‘They are not only investors, they are our development team and strong thinkers.’ Before you start yawning at our unintentional success pitch here, picture a young Ignas scribbling down every word his future partners and a plethora of lawyers, notaries, and engineers are saying, pointing out mistakes in his prototype. Other investors, VW, IKEA representatives… Scribbling down every word and trying not to drown in the complexity of all the things he doesn’t understand…yet. The pace and complexity has been growing ever since.
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And yet it took two years for a Pigeon to reach its customers, two years of endless prototyping and modifications. How a quick-starter was finding himself during this time? ‘It really took a toll on me. It felt like a tragic time. Before I was successful being über fast and up for a change. I feel that I am naturally very good at solving things here and now. Dealing with the long-term becomes more difficult for me.’ N WIND has been following Ignas and his transition from a precocious spurter to a stable developer through his humble, honest posts in social media ever since. Ignas eventually came to love development, so read on! His views on complexity, staying focussed on the big picture and his big goals, setting his mind and character straight, infusing every step along the way with positivity and trust in the future has convinced us that his strong, direct, creative energy is something we want to share with you. So here it is, the issue themed Movement, created together with Ignas Survila. We explore Movement and we even moved a bit up North–– Ignas has visited another inspiring eco-mobility movement called Uniti in Lund, Sweden, to bring back an exclusive interview with a star CEO Lewis Horne. And we’ve talked a lot.
Photography by Martyna Jovaišaitė
putting them? Cumbersome, heavy, with no functionality nor design. They were just a thing, yet people were buying them. And, although not produced sustainably, those scooters help to sustain the economy, to sustain employment opportunities and the possibilities that come with them. I believed they could be replaced with kickscooters that have improved functionality and sustainability qualities.
What do you do not to get stuck in a perpetual change? IS But this is what development is. I feel the development should not be framed—it’s raw creativity with the power to take you on a long ride if needed. Boy, when I look at my first drawings… NW
Your idea with a Pigeon? For me design is the foundation of everything. With the Pigeon, I was aiming to create an iconic thing, that would be a brand in its essence. When you look at our vehicles, it becomes very obvious what ideas we support. I like to think that by riding a Pigeon people are showing they support the creativity of others. NW IS
Did you own a kickscooter before you designed one? IS Yes, an ugly one. I still have it. I got it as a birthday present and rode around with it everywhere. NW
Is it a comfortable to ride a kickscooter? IS It’s awesomely comfortable to me! Especially if you like exploring the city. I take a kickscooter with me when travelling. In Asia, a market we are focusing on now, the kickscooter has even greater market potential due to the lack of personal space, both at home and for public transportation. Yes, the quality of the pavement can differ, and one foot becoming more muscular than the other is a challenge (laughs). It’s a different way of moving with your own body, and even with your mind. The same road simply feels different. You are not part of the traffic, you move in your own way. Riding a kickscooter triggers the spirit of childhood. NW
The world is overpopulated with things and concepts. Do you agree? As a designer, how deeply do you question the contribution of Citybirds? IS It would be stupid to disagree. I often think to myself, do people need kickscooters from Citybirds? Why on earth would they? There are plenty already. Is the value created by design thinking enough reason to put more stuff on an already overstuffed planet? On the other hand, maybe it’s the other scooters that are already in the market that we don’t need.
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Quite a shift of a question. Exactly. When I was in Shanghai, visiting one of the manufacturers of our electric kickscooter Eagle, I was shown another electric kickscooter produced there for the American brand Razor. They actually produce an awful lot of them, hundreds of thousands per year. I caught myself wondering where people were NW IS
Riding a kickscooter will attract a few glances here and there, yet you decided to design yours using exceptionally bright colours. Tell us the story about how you began designing and how it changed? IS It was changing so much! I came to love the process of development and I felt we were progressing like never before! What seemed great one day, could look rubbish the next. NW
When did the shift happen from Pigeon, the product you started with, to Citybirds? IS Once I had the Swiss investors on board, we wanted to register our company with the name Pigeon Sarl, but that name was taken. Weeks earlier I was sketching other birds because we realised that the Pigeon would have to be more of a brand flagship and less of a marketable, profitable product due to its complicated and costly production. Citybirds unites all our new developments under one message. It doesn’t immobilise our thinking, but helps us to focus and expand. This is a power of good branding. Urban movement and freedom are coded into our name. NW
You have many roles in your company. How did you shift from having a single focus to seeing the big picture? IS It was crucial for me to be able see a bigger picture that encompassed a global ecomobility playground and my possible place in it, not to give up during those first two years of development. Big goals help me to not loose my head over small, tedious problems. NW
Photography by Martyna Jovaišaitė
Photography by Edgaras Kordiukovas
Who are your core people? Vincent from Swiss Etic SA and Ieva—they are my opposites: calm, super smart, thoughtful, rational people. They ground me when I am going crazy. And now we are growing. I think I outsmarted my weaknesses once I decided to get to know them and balance them with the positive qualities of other people on my team. But that came later, after the first year. I wanted to get the full, hands-on experience for myself, to know the processes inside out, so we didn’t hire anybody. I needed to have the confidence that comes from knowing yourself. But that was before. Now I design my team with my own shortcomings in mind. I need the team to function without too much communication, as I’m not that great at it. I’d still rather do things myself. I can easily find myself in the office at 7AM to organise the warehouse the way it should be organised. NW IS
We are moving toward a better future, of course! What are your investors like and why do they support you? IS When I went to pitch Pigeon to my current partners in Geneva, my friends asked me to report on what kind of car would pick me up from the hotel. In the morning, sharply on time, I am waiting in the hotel lobby and my investor comes to pick me up with two kickscooters. Michel Barro, he’s in his fifties. Though it was a long process, I now realise that Michel is very much like me. He believes in eco-mobility, and is an innovator to the bone. Everything new that I come across? He already knows it.
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I remember the tipping point—when we went to a bar and started talking about our visions. We understood that our broad views on ecology, city infrastructure, kickscooters, the future of eco-mobility were aligned. My investors are people who want to leave a mark beyond what they are doing today.
tive industry will change fundamentally. A lot of people will not agree with the changes, but in the end everyone will realise the importance of eco-mobility and the advantages of this silent, organised movement. What moves you personally? I’m an adventurous person. When I was working behind the bar, I would come up with new challenges for myself. How fast I can clean the glasses? How can I create relationships with the regular clients? NW IS
When was a moment in your project you’ve felt that the movement is there? Where do you find yourself now? IS At the beginning, I was very afraid of not managing to fulfil expectations—those of my investors, my team, and my own. It was a huge problem, as I needed to focus on the goal, not on how to please others. Now it’s different. I consider the possibility of failure more calmly and I focus solely on reaching our goals. NW
Do you project yourself for success? IS The concept of success is heavy and is weighing us down. It’s an attractive notion, but how do you recognise the moment when you can say you are successful? NW
Do you risk often? Yes. Risk vs. fear is a theme that holds interest for me. I see our generation as more prone to risk-taking, less afraid to make moves. NW IS
Are you conscious that you are taking risks? IS Yes, it’s impossible not to be. Risk, but think. A goal without a plan, a strategy, is only a dream. People often ask me if I would choose to do all over it again? And would I change anything? I always say, with conviction, that I wouldn’t change anything. NW
People are the wind. Do you agree? Definitely. From a philosophical point of view this could mean that people are unpredictable, like the wind—very light, and then changing into a superb and powerful storm in mere minutes! NW IS
What’s your next move? Maybe something with a motor in it? IS (Smiles). We are going to raise equity on our new crowdfunding platform, Seedrs, next spring. We are working to produce other birds to reach people in the cities as soon as possible. We are working with our markets in Asia, the West Coast of the US, and with Western Europe. In the future I see myself creating new things. NW
citybirds.lt @citybirds @ignas.survila
How do you see the future? Where we are all heading? How the ways we move will change? IS We are moving toward a better future, of course! We will move much more quickly, safely and comfortably than we do now. Today, the main risk factor in transportation remains the human factor. The existing automoNW
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Photography by Martyna Jovaišaitė
Growing up in a small Soviet amusement park in Klaipėda, Lithuania, which was under the direction of my father, I never saw a kindergarten, but was raised amongst oily fun park engineers, ride operators, park managers and shouting riders. Unfortunately for my father, I was not much interested in submitting my body to the funfair machinery, because the rides were either too boring or made me motion-sick. I dreamed of American amusement parks, known for the most extreme thrill rides, and wondered what drew millions of people to spend hours in a queue to experience a few minutes of vomit-inducing ride. This curiosity and my intimate connection with my father’s park led me to experiment with fairground development. Having worked in the field —as design consultant, ride designer, engineer, and the head of the amusement park I grew up in—I decided to shift my attention towards art, which, I thought, would be a better space for a wilder experimentation. There is no equivalent in the arts that could deliver such whole-body, engaging, and aesthetic power as those body movers. You may call it participative kinetic art, yet, such an aesthetics or what I call ‘gravitational aesthetics’ have not advanced much since the inception of kinetic architecture. When it comes to innovation, the creative mindset of an amusement ride designer has mainly revolved around the macho dimension: higher, faster, more extreme. Today’s designers have reached peak human body stimulation and have exhausted of their creative tools. Empathising with them, I engineered a ride to celebrate this fatal moment in the history of amusement park development. It is a roller coaster that kills the rider with euphoria and elegance. The Euthanasia Coaster1—the ultimate roller coaster that leaves no more room for innovation, but enshrines the death of the drive-toward-extreme-experiences. A part of my PhD research at the Royal College of Art, the Euthanasia Coaster project
also prompted me to look elsewhere for creative tools. This is where I started to study and employ all sorts of artistic and scientific approaches related to movement—from dance, sports, kinetic art, aerospace medicine, gravitational biology, vehicle engineering, and others. It was not until this interdisciplinary immersion in the topic that I realised gravity was at the core of my research. This fundamental terrestrial force is not just a key reference point for movement, it is one of the major elements of perception and an important fulcrum for human advancement that has inspired a great variety of inventions, from the pragmatic to the poetic, from our gravitydefying upright stance to the rocket enabling us escape Earth’s gravity. Because the question of gravity is no longer inexorably tied to evolution, we create and enjoy a myriad of gravity-related activities accompanied by unique aesthetic qualities. The parachute, for example, introduced a non-fatal surrender to gravity, thus opening the sky as a medium for extraterrestrial bodily explorations. The roller coaster liberated us from ‘horizontal life’ with the curved and entangled interpretations of the downward trajectory producing unique bodily sensations. A different type of example are the hitherto unimagined possibilities for redesigning the body through bodybuilding—a systematic negotiation with gravity that opened a new field of ‘fleshy’ aesthetics. Responding to gravity’s aesthetic potential, I set out to develop a special creative toolset for gravitational design—aka g-design—to create experiences that push the body and imagination to the extremes. Currently g-design has evolved into a series of creative strategies organised under two major headings with authentic coinage: “Design Choreography” and “Vehicular Poetics”. The former approach is based on an active negotiation with gravity, whereas the latter is passive. Skis vs. roller coasters.
Julijonas Urbonas Artist, designer, researcher and engineer
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WILL I SURVIVE THE TRIP?
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Design Choreography considers things to be non-human choreographers. No matter what, things affect the way we move, how we dance, what we can do with our bodies. The invention of pavement, for example, introduced pedestrian traffic; shoes prolonged the step; while the fact of buildings eventually gave rise to parkour. Shifting our creative attention from conventional design goals, e.g. usability, beauty, economy, ecology, and safety, to the conditions and effects of design choreography, I propose an alternative and dance-experience-oriented approach to design. In this way of thinking design focuses on kinaesthetic2 and engaging the whole body. This kind of design is about putting bodies into motion instead of pushing a style or a catchphrase. Vehicular poetics concerns “en route aesthetics”. Think of the automobile as a peculiar cinematographic device that introduced a unique ‘live road movie’—the passing landscape imagery we see through the surrounding car windows. Vehicular poetics is neither vehicle design nor poetry about transportation. Not interested in the comfort or ergonomics of travel, this design approach shifts its creative attention from the efficiency of displacement—the design metrics of moving from A to B—to the experiential poetics of the very act of commuting itself! The design object functions as a technical means of transporting people, but also, and more importantly, a narrative vehicle carrying its passenger to the aesthetic realms of poeticised travel, be it physical or imaginary. Having laid down the contours of g-design, one may start wondering how those approaches actually manifest themselves in creative practice. Here my project Airtime may serve as an example epitomising both the strategies. Airtime is a dropping floor, which fuses elements of a participatory kinetic sculpture
with elements of performative architecture—an anti-gravity machine and a thrill ride! Special equipment under the floor raises and drops those walking on it, occasionally causing a state of weightlessness. ‘Airtime’ is an expression that amusement ride designers use to describe the free fall sensation that passengers feel when they come out of their seats during a ride. Having no equivalents3, its vertical trajectory forms a unique choreographic and psychosocial space. Those standing on it start to behave and move abnormally, unsure of what to do or how to react, and aware of the inevitable fall. Some look at each other and stiffen. Others crouch down, sit, or lie, trying to find the best position. Some hold hands, to relieve the tension of waiting. The fall lasts less than half a second, but at that very moment the most unique dance occurs. It is difficult, if not impossible, to come up with an example of when a group of open-mouthed people perform a primal dance, balancing in the air and expressing ambivalent sensations of pain, ecstasy, and fear. After the fall they scream and laugh, and sometimes run away. “Modern dance spends an enormous amount of time and effort ignoring gravity. They rarely fall. When they fall, they don’t fall. They carefully let themselves down. I’m thinking, You’re a bunch of sissies”, Elizabeth Streb, a contemporary dance choreographer, comments on dancers’ obsession with the vertical dimension. Such criticism may be applied not only to dancers, but to absolutely any individual. Falling, or more specifically, the avoidance of it, was once crucial for evolutionary survival; today it is more a cultural phenomenon that is either stigmatised or pushed to its limits. Our contemporary relationship with falling is so prevalent and pervasive, yet we are rarely, if ever, aware of it. Of course, until we lose our balance in front of
1 For more details on the biomedical and aesthetic background of the project, please visit the project’s website http://julijonasurbonas.lt/euthanasia-coaster/
Proprioception, especially when connected with movement, is sometimes called kinaesthesia; this later term emphasises muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. Closely connected with these two systems is the vestibular system, a remarkable sensory organ near the auditory sensory complex, which carries out a wide range of coordinated activities. It is connected to the eyes and ears, whose neurones respond to vestibular stimulation; it receives important input from the hands and fingers as well as the soles of the feet; it activates facial and jaw muscles; and it affects heart rates and blood pressure, muscle tone, the positioning of our limbs, respiration, and even our immune responses. All of this is done to allow us to stand vertically and move through space with a rhythmic sense of balance.
Mallgrave, H. F., Architect’s brain: neuroscience, creativity and architecture, (WileyBlackwell, 2010), p. 201. It could be compared to the thrill ride Drop Tower, a mechanical tower from which a cabin with a group of people is dropped. Yet the key difference with Airtime is that Drop Tower imprisons riders in their seats and harness, whereas Airtime riders are free to indulge in choreographic and social experimentation.
Julijonas Urbonas performing Walking on the Wall (2012)—a lecture-cumfairground-ride on design choreography, delivered against the façade of the National Art Gallery, Vilnius, Lithuania. Photography by Aistė Valiūtė & Daumantas Plechavičius
Euthanasia Coaster in the Lithuanian pavilion at the XXI Triennale di Milano 2016. Photography by Delfino Sisto Legnani.
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Cumspin (2015)—an orgasm enhancing amusement ride. A view of the scale model in the gallery “Vartai”, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2016. Photography by Aistė Valiūtė & Daumantas Plechavičius
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Airtime in the exhibition “City Nature” at the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, 2017. Photography by Aistė Valiūtė & Daumantas Plechavičius.
an audience. This is exactly what I wanted to do with Airtime—by staging a collective experience of falling, the phenomenon would enter into the faller’s reflective awareness. If falling has, in a sense, caused us to become the way we are, who are we when suspended in midair? While hovering, our fundamental spacial awareness—concepts such as ‘up’, ‘down’, ‘vertical’, and ‘horizontal’—no longer make sense. What is an upright stance when your legs have no connection with the ground? Those directional keywords for terrestrial experience become nothing but mental or imaginary constructs. There is no better example than the realities of living in a weightless space habitat to challenge the very nature of gravity-bound human. Astronauts suffer disorientation and motion sickness, but their bodies also deteriorate due to the absence of gravity. The interior designers of space stations deal with this problem by introducing an arbitrary visual vocabulary—the supposed ‘floors’ and ‘ceilings’ are given different colours. To orient themselves, space inhabitants must imagine terrestrial dimensions by pretending that a certain plane is ‘vertical’ or ‘horizontal.’ This can’t help but inaugurate gravitational imagination. In addition to functioning as a performative architecture that provokes human nature challenging choreography, Airtime is a means of transportation that transports its passengers from an earthly mental realm to an extraterrestrial one. The destination is none other than the passengers themselves. “Will I survive the trip?!”, asks a would-be Airtime passenger.
Video frame snapshots from the installation Airtime in the Lithuanian pavilion at the XXI Triennale di Milano 2016. Video by Aistė Valiūtė & Daumantas Plechavičius.
Julijonas Urbonas Artist, designer, researcher and engineer, Vice-Rector for Art at the Vilnius Academy of Arts in Vilnius, and PhD student in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, London.
As you read this article, you may be sitting in you armchair, drinking your coffee. Your hand smoothly moves the cup to your lips, you take a sip, and put the cup back on the table. For most of us, this action seems effortless—we barely need to think about it, and we only spill the coffee if somebody scares us or if we are drinking that coffee on a jittering train. Nevertheless, to produce these smooth continuous movements your brain has to perform a huge amount of complex computations, activating thousands of neurons across different regions of the brain in a synchronized manner. First of all, you have to use the visual cortex at the back of your head to spot the cup. Then you have to activate the motor cortex to induce controlled movement of your arm to reach out to the cup. Using the somatosensory cortex at the top of your brain you can sense if you have got a good grip on the cup handle. In the motor cortex and somatosensory cortex, different parts of your body are mapped onto different regions. Thus, if I was to monitor your brain in action, I would be able to see the brain centers of your fingers, hand, and arm light up as you perform the movements. If you were to allowed me to put large magnets on your head (a technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS), I could even induce specific movements against your will or interfere with the actions you are trying to do. That is because the neurons in each area use a universal language to communicate— small electrical currents called nerve impulses. A specific magnetic field can cross your skull and induce ‘false commands’ for your motor cortex. In fact, we can even induce false sensations or visions if we stimulate the somatosensory or visual centers…but let’s not get carried away. Moreover, if we zoom in on either of these brain areas, we realize that things are even more complex. Each of these areas consists of thousands of cells, called neurons. For these
In fact, each of us can compromise our cerebellum activity temporarily via drinking large amounts of alcohol. Ethanol, present in all the alcoholic beverages we drink, stimulates the receptors for the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (short for gamma-aminobutyric acid). Balanced levels of GABA are necessary for suppressing random messages sent around the brain, and for switching actions off when they are no longer needed. In cases where GABA levels are too low, patients often have epileptic seizures—the brain keeps sending the message for all muscle groups to contract and it struggles to switch that message off, therefore the body goes into a continuous spasm. If we add a ‘fake’ GABA receptor stimulator by using ethanol, in addition to the natural stimulation of good levels of internal GABA, we suppress too many of the messages our brain sends to our muscles and our movements become sloppy. Alcohol does not only suppresses the coordination of the motor centers of our brains (such as the cerebellum), but it also inhibits our rational brain, causing problems with sound decision making, reaction time, truly understanding others, and impulse control. Moreover, our critical assessment centers are also partially inhibited. Thus, under the effect of large amounts of alcohol, we are not that smart anymore, but due to alcohol inhibiting self-awareness, we don’t realize how poorly we are performing and can sometimes make very bad decisions. In other words, I hope you are drinking coffee rather than beer as you read this article.
The social brain: my brain copies your actions Our brains are very good at copying the actions of others, this is also called ‘social contagion’ and it can only happen thanks to the neuronal networks of the premotor cortex (an part of the brain that can be found just in front of motor cortex we discussed earlier). This is called the Mirror Neuron System (or MNS for short). First, these networks were discovered through the movement control studies done on monkeys by the Rizzolatti research team in Italy in the 1990s. Scientist recorded the neuronal activity of a monkey as it put peanuts into the cup. At the end of the experiment, the scientist started putting some of the remaining peanuts into the cup while the monkey was still watching and they noticed that the same neurons, which were active in the monkey to perform putting peanuts in the cup, were also active when the monkey was observing somebody else do it—hence they called these neurons mirror neurons. Later brain imaging studies in humans revealed that similar
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YOUR BRAIN IN ACTION: smooth movements require an impeccable orchestra made up of multiple areas of the brain
cells to function they need a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients (such as glucose), both delivered by our blood. Thus, the state of your blood vessels and the nutrients you provide for your body can have the huge impact on the functioning of the brain. Disasters can happen if the blood vessels get clogged up (via cholesterol clusters on the internal walls or due to a blood clot)—this is what is called an ischemic stroke, or if they erupt either due to brain trauma or a genetic predisposition to fragile blood vessels— a haemorrhage stroke. In both cases, the area that the damaged blood vessels were supplying with nutrients and oxygen begin to starve, and the neurons there begin to die. The consequences depend on which areas have been affected. If it is the motor cortex, then patients often become paralyzed on one side of the body. If it is the speaking center, which we call Broca’s area, patients won’t be able to talk, etc. Luckily, brain networks can recover due to our ‘activitydependent brain plasticity’, if we use intense physiotherapy soon after the damage has taken place. The recovery can be even quicker if combined with TMS stimulation. Let’s get back to you drinking your coffee. When you are moving your cup towards your lips, your movements are very precise and your hand keeps still without shaking. This is something we often take for granted. However, to achieve it we need healthy activity in deeper brain area called the substantia nigra, which is responsible for timing the initiation and the cessation of each movement. If you have problems with this center, as Parkinson’s patients do, you would struggle to start the actions you desire (How frustrating would that be!), and once you started them it would be rather tricky to stop. That is exactly what causes the tremors and difficulty in initiating and ending movements in Parkinson’s patients. Another region of the brain crucial for motor activity balance is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is, evolutionarily, a much older area of the brain, as all other mammals including dogs, cats, cows, and rodents have cerebellums similar to ours. This part of the brain takes care of the motor activities we have trained well so that we can do them ‘automatically’, without even thinking about them. This includes keeping your body wellbalanced so you don’t fall off your chair when you are reaching out for the cup. Also, the cerebellum is crucial for daily activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, driving your car, talking, writing, and much more. There are some curious cases of people born with an underdeveloped cerebellum; they struggle to learn to walk on two legs and often prefer walking on all fours if possible. With lots of specific training they can learn to walk properly, but that requires a lot more conscious effort than it would for you or me.
Dr. Gabija Toleikyte A neuroscientist and workperformance and well-being coach
THE DRUNKEN BRAIN: the brain becomes temporarily compromised when we drink
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Movement and love promote smart brains! And, last but not least, a physically active lifestyle is not only fun, but it is also beneficial for your brain. Research on rodents, initiated by Cotman’s team in 1995, was the starting point for more the recent investigations done by multiple scientists in humans showing that when we engage in a physical activity we enjoy, our brains increase the amount of the molecule called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is an amazing brain ‘fertilizer’. BDNF is crucial for the survival of our neurons. This means it promotes brain plasticity, forming new networks that allow us to constantly learn new information, and may delay age-related brain degeneration to keep our brains sharp and healthy. Importantly, the levels of BDNF in our brains are elevated only by physical activity we enjoy and are decreased by chronic stress. Moreover, when we are engaged in aerobic physical activity, such as cycling, fast walking, jogging, dancing, or energetically doing chores around the house, the networks of small blood vessels in the brain, called capillaries, keep getting larger and more capable of providing oxygen and nutrients to our brains, keeping us mentally sharp, creative, and capable of making good decisions. You can, in fact, move your way towards being smarter. Have you ever notices that you get your best ideas while walking, taking a shower, or cycling? That’s not uncommon; in fact, most of my workshop content gets created when I walk laps around my local pond in London or cycle on the quiet streets. Last but not least, another great brain power booster is loving and caring relationships, whether with our romantic partners, colleagues, friends, relatives, or even strangers, our brains feel better when we are with people whose company we enjoy. When we spend time with the people we love or can have great time with, another brain boosting molecule called oxytocin is secreted. This not only makes us feel great (think of that warm feeling you get from cuddling with your loved ones or looking after a little baby), but it also increases brain plasticity and protects our brains from the negative
effects of chronic stress. Stress molecules such as adrenalin, noradrenalin, and cortisol change how your body distributes its energy resources, putting us into the so-called fight or flight mode. In that state, more nutrients are sent to our muscles, but the brain, digestive system, and immune system get much less oxygen and nutrients than usual. Thus, in that state, every one of us suddenly has the intelligence of a five-yearold kid, since the ‘smartest’ areas of our brains are starving. However, if we do stress reduction activities or cuddle our babies and spouses, or even give a nice hug to a stranger, suddenly the changes—oxytocin is released, inducing a relaxation response in the brain and you go back to being the smart, creative, and funny you that you normally are. So, the best way to keep your brain healthy and functioning well is to do regular physical activities that you enjoy and spend lots of quality time with people who bring out the best in you—mutually empowering relationships. To summarise, our brains are very fancy, ever-changing machines that enable us to do all sorts of complex actions. We don’t even notice most of the brain’s hard work and often take our skills for granted. However, if we consider cases when that impeccable brain synchronicity has been compromised, through such conditions as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, or drinking, we can gain some insights into how fine and complex the workings of our brains really are. I suggest you take good care of your brain through lots of exercise, healthy eating, constructive relationships, and living a fun and happy life! A few links for curious minds: To access a brain facts book on brain areas, neurons, neurotransmitters, methods of monitoring the brain, and much more go to: https://goo.gl/NFWCNz TMS technique: https://goo.gl/w2jCT6 fMRI technique: https://goo.gl/2Gr4cL MNS discovery: https://goo.gl/hbK1Yy BDNF and exercise: https://goo.gl/e3gM75
Dr. Gabija Toleikyte is a neuroscientist and work-performance and well-being coach. She has done research on vision (Vilnius University, Lithuania), Parkinson’s disease (Helsinki University, Finland), spatial navigation, and memory (University College London, UK). She delivers lectures on various topics in neuroscience for organizations, the education sector, and for the general public in England and Lithuania. She writes for The Guardian and is currently writing her first book. Dr. Gabija is also a keen rock climber and cyclist. Learn more: www. mybrainduringtheday.com
things happen in our brains too—while I watch Michael Phelps swim, some of my ‘swimming neurons’ also start to fire electrical impulses. In fact, just watching somebody perform an action helps my brain become a bit better at it too, due to activity-dependent brain plasticity. That is the reason many professional athletes, including Michael Phelps, spend some time training physically and some time visualizing themselves train. If before giving a talk or performing some tricky physical exercise, such as traversing a challenging rock climbing route, you either watch somebody else do it well or imagine yourself performing it, you will do better. That is also the neuronal basis for the way little children learn to do things simply by copying the actions of the adults around them, so you’d better behave well! And if that wasn’t enough to fascinate you with MNS, this phenomenon is also used to detect which of the patients who have come to be in a vegetative state are still conscious and which are not. The relatives of these patients ask them to imagine that they are walking around the house or playing their favourite sport, let’s say tennis. If the patient is conscious and can hear this request, the brain centers responsible for walking or playing tennis would light up and we can observe the activity using an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scanner.
Uniti is an agile electric vehicle optimised for energy and resource efficiency, safety, and manufacturing scalability. Designed to be a mainstream car for people living in cities, Uniti is targeted toward the urban problems of under-utilisation, limited parking, and our over-abundance of cars. What started as a Swedish student startup, today has become Unitiâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a smartphone-era happening for the global automotive sector! An exciting movement, so potent and agile that the N WIND team had to check it out for real at their facilities in Lund. What do we think?
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F**k oil! But Uniti is way beyond that.
Partnerships that matter Uniti is working with Siemens on a digital one-toone replica of the factory to be able to plan out the automated assembly line for Uniti’s new manufacturing space, which will be stocked with robotics from Kuka. Uniti is creating vital bonds with well-established companies who understand that the future is designed by those who are not afraid to be different!
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Uniti could represent the beginning of very a different technology platform for personal urban mobility. The vehicle’s steering system resembles a Wii controller more than a traditional car steering wheel. Uniti aims for the design and experience that ‘doesn’t look like a sum of many components, it just looks like one seamless component’. It replaces ‘press and pull’ with ‘touch and swipe’. The dashboard has an interactive 3D augmented reality head-up display that uses head- and hand-tracking to create the 3D interface, which allows the driver to interact directly with it.
We mean really new Despite the undeniable benefits of emissions-free mobility, modern electric cars are only fractionally more sustainable than their fossil fuel counterparts when their entire life-cycle impacts are considered. Mainly due to incredibly complex manufacturing processes, created to work with large steal bodies that had been designed for the engineering challenges of the internal combustion engine. The key differentiators at Uniti are in the revolutionary user experience and holistic sustainability, that is largely the integral part of significantly simplified and fully automated production line and biomaterials. ‘We don’t just get carbon fibre—we get carbon fibre that can be recycled, and we can recycle it in our factory’, says Horne.
An L7e (heavy quadricycle) vehicle with two to four seats in tandem, depending on the model
15 kW rated hub motors (75 kW peak)
Target price for the flagship model: 20 000 €
How fast: 0–80 kph in 3,5 seconds Weight: 450 kg dry weight Recyclable carbon fibre and bio composite based
Electronic steering system Autonomous driving features Full-screen augmented reality heads-up display
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Top speed: 90 to 130 kph depending on the model
11 or 20 kWh Li-ion battery
THE UNITI CAR
What is Uniti?
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This view of the earth from space helps us appreciate that on our planet we are in this together, and provides us with some collective inspiration to make things better. For the Uniti brand it reflects their ethos of being a company of self-motivated, driven people, who will work independently to contribute to the common good.
ENGINE OF CHAOS
Ignas Survila N WIND guest-editor
if we use them to achieve something positive in the world. Working only to gain money is a bad reason to be an entrepreneur. These tools are wonderful for scale and growth, but they’re just instruments that shouldn’t be treated as objectives. I was busy working with other companies and didn’t have the time to run the mentioned centre. The university said ‘We funded this thing and we want it to fly, you should return and run it for a while’. For the duration of the first year it was an open innovation project—connecting lots of technological dots, exploring all the possibilities, understanding shifts in the market and what they imply, getting to know the change that has to happen for the benefit of the society and the planet. Any big challenges at the very start? Well, choosing the hard way of doing things instead of taking a typical car-company approach is definitely challenging; it’s much more complex to raise money when you don’t follow a strict business scenario—you don’t plan everything out because you simply don’t know everything, your company is constantly changing. That’s transformational knowledge. Uniti is new-ideas-dominant, not experiencedominant: we started with loads of young people, a tremendous amount of chaos, and the hope to always keep creating new knowledge. People weren’t being paid for some time, including myself. I put all of my money from other projects into this company, and even lived in a small cubicle at the office for three months—and they used to turn off the ventilation during nights and weekends… Imagine you’ve got 40 engineers and nobody’s really getting paid—a huge amount of stress is simply a given. Don’t forget that the world thinks you’re utterly insane, and when you really need a break, all you can do is go to a small cubicle and just feel crazy there. NW LH
How do you control that kind of stress? I’d say don’t try to control it—don’t avoid things that are painful and uncomfortable. You only need to control it if you’re truly worried about risk. I’m not worried about it; risk is a genuine part of the process. Also, I’m more of a creative chaos person, so my advice would be hire someone to control the stress if you have to. (He laughs.) NW LH
Lewis Horne, CEO of Uniti
Some of your partnerships—Siemens and KUKA Robotics—already speak for themselves. Maybe you have some useful advice about making new deals? LH You have to understand humans as well as companies, and know the difference between them. Your proposition has to make sense for both the individuals and the companies you’re dealing with. If you play your cards just right, the aim is to have them say, ‘As crazy as this guy sounds, it makes total sense for us to do this, we’re in!’ Big companies know what they’re doing and top-level managers certainly know what they’re doing: they know the world is changing and they want to be a part of it. Show them how your project would help them keep up. NW
If you had to describe it in one sentence for, let’s say, my grandma, how would you describe what you do at Uniti? LH We design, develop, and market safe, sustainable, scalable, lightweight electrical cars that make sense. NW
So what doesn’t make sense for you in the automotive industry? LH First of all, it’s the lifecycle of a car: most cars just sit there unused for most of the time and then begin to deteriorate. Second, a lot of research shows that today’s electric cars are not that sustainableyou have the same average occupancy of 1.2 people, driving at 30 km/h, and still end up with two tons of car! If sustainability is the objective, and the least sustainable part of the car is the battery—the car should be light. 95 % of all car trips are less than 30 km NW
Can you tell us a little bit about the start of Uniti, which now has a home in this gigantic building in Lund, where the future is being programmed? LH (Horne smiles) I was the director of the Social Innovation Centre, which I founded at Lund University. I did a Master’s degree in entrepreneurship and venture creation, working all over Europe with many different start-ups. At some point it began to feel a bit meaningless; this was followed by the realisation that economic tools are only good NW
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First, let’s talk about the automotive industry—quite a competitive environment. Do you feel pressure from it and do you see Uniti as a company in a specific niche? LEWIS Call me overconfident, naive, young—but I HORNE certainly don’t feel any pressure from the automotive market. I think they feel pressure from us. As for being a niche company–that’s actually a worst case scenario for us, as we’re shooting for grand change rather than occupying a limited place in the industry. So, at best, being a niche could be our backup plan, yet that is not the objective here by far! N WIND
You make it sound easy, but I’m sure that also means tons of work. Do you get to sleep a lot? LH Sometimes I don’t sleep at all, and some nights I do sleep. I’m a highly obsessive, analytical person, and I intend to keep using that to my advantage, at times making it as extreme as possible. That’s why I don’t ‘switch off’ that much––I try not to disconnect from my work. NW
Lewis Horne could be a live example to help people understand how the notions of ‘creativity’, ‘sustainability’, and ‘leadership’ work in real life. Meeting him a few years back with just a sketch of an idea in his hand made me realise that this is an interesting, and even intimidating, personality. In recent times he has fully delved into his grand project Uniti– a place for designing, developing, and marketing sustainable and scalable high-performance electrical cars that are special in so many ways that, at the moment, conventional thinking can’t altogether grasp. Together with N WIND, I was lucky to chat with Lewis at the very heart of his impressive company in Lund, Sweden. We shared a pitcher of water and many ideas about mobility, entrepreneurship, and what ‘switching on’ entails for yourself and your business.
The emerging The beginning of Uniti was as a government-funded research project at Lund University aiming to ‘create the new car of a future’; the project transitioned into a startup in January 2016. The team wanted to create a strong grassroots movement, so they launched an equity crowdfunding campaign (pre-seed round), only to exceed their target within hours at a valuation of 9,8 million EUR. Initially, Horne wanted to make sure they have strong financial backing and strategic backbones, then it was time to let the chaos reign so that the right company culture and functioning structure would emerge. Uniti’s second funding campaign for private investors was launched this autumn.
long, therefore with just one or two people sitting inside, it doesn’t make sense to have a two-ton vehicle. As if that wasn’t enough, more people die prematurely from vehicle emissions than from car accidents—that doesn’t make sense since we already have the technology to solve this problem. Today we have to design not for car culture, but for our new values. Also, f**k oil. (We share a laugh.) And what were the objectives of your vehicle design? LH It took us about two years. The vehicle had to be weird enough to capture the attention of a wide audience and not so weird that it would push people away. Also, like the iPhone, it had to adapt to many different users all over the world–a person who drives an SUV alone to work every day should be able understand the reasons why he or she would rather have this smaller vehicle and at the same time preserve the status that comes with the SUV. And, as in the case of Tesla, the design should be highly appealing to various groups of users in order to prompt an urge to purchase the vehicle. N WIND
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Car by ‘no car’ company ‘The most sustainable way to commute daily […] is to fucking walk or take a bicycle. Everyone in our whole company rides a bike. There’s like over 60 people and three that have a car.’— the millennial entrepreneur adds that Uniti is designed for people like him, who want to own a car, but don’t want two tons of machinery in their life.
As I’ve seen downstairs, you’re basically trying to change everything in the conventional way of using a car, from the steering wheel to saving energy. Can you speak more about user scenarios? LH Most automotive companies pride themselves in saying ‘we design for the user’. Nevertheless, they have to design their cars around the mechanical properties of the machine, which is not an entirely user-centric approach. They aren’t free. By using electronic steering, for instance, we can completely reinvent the handling of a car and work out what’s more ergonomic and which modifications make it easier to drive. Still, the best part about this electronic steering system is that if the driver wants a steering wheel–it’s available (He laughs.). And that’s what user-centric design is–the user says ‘nope, I’m used to it, I want it’ and we make it happen. But if you’re disabled, elderly, learning to drive a car, or simply want to try a more advanced method, you NW
Take-off Future ‘Making a car is very, very difficult thing, and certifying that car worldwide is very difficult thing too’–says Tim Stevens, editor of the website Roadshow, quoted in The Independent. Having launched their prototype, Uniti will be moving into their mass-scale manufacturing facilities later this year and, after A-round funding preparations, Uniti plans to start manufacturing its first line of cars at the end of 2018. By 2020, Uniti plans to be able to produce 50,000 cars per year!
might want something different. Maybe you’re like me and you know for a fact that humanity won’t be using regular cars forever and you want to be there for the change. Do you believe Uniti could have this much success or this kind of success if it had been founded in any other country than Sweden? LH I have no idea, however I’m happy that we had a lot of support from Sweden and, most importantly, many of the values of our company are values that I’ve learned in this country. We are lucky that Sweden has brand equity and enough people who want to see a successful car manufacturer in Sweden again, as there aren’t many left. NW
Favourite car brand? Don’t really like cars…
You’ve become very influential as an individual. What about your journey before Uniti—your choices, skills, breaking points—in other words, what made you the person you are today? LH Aha… (He pauses, considering.) Well, I grew up in Australia and I’ve been on the road my whole life, going to nine different Australian schools. I didn’t finish high school because I didn’t have a place to live at the time. Therefore I worked for some time in the outback [Australia’s sparsely inhabited inland districts] riding horses and chasing cows in some of the roughest places you can imagine. Then I turned 18 and just wanted to get out of there–this resulted in going to work on random oil rigs as a roughneck in Canada. That’s where I learned a lot about mechanics. Later I returned to Australia to study mechanical engineering at university. I’ve always had several jobs at the same time. I finally did a NW
In the interview for N WIND Horne hasn’t looked further than his feet to reflect about current car culture and designing for new values: ‘If I had a big pair of clown shoes and I walked around, wouldn’t that look silly? But if they were big, sexy, shiny clown shoes that had a lot of great features and our culture told us we should [wear it], in other words, everybody was doing it, you wouldn’t think that it was weird at all. You would think it was weird if I had shoes like this (Pointing to his sneakers––Ed), even if they made more sense. So, when the point comes along in the history, […] when the whole generation is open to something new, we should try to capitalise on that. We have to make radical moves, it is highly necessary that we do that.’
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Car culture tells you to wear clown shoes
So you’ve met the Volvo guys then? LH Yes, we have. We’ve even worked on a government-funded project together. It’s a great company with a bunch of good guys. They’re actually working on a second family car, and we’re more about the first family car–the one you use the most. NW
Bachelor’s in International Business and Marketing, then a Master’s in Science and Entrepreneurship, learning to code and as much other stuff as I possibly could, online courses and all that. I’m someone that has to have a neurotic amount of complexity and a large number of active projects to feel motivated. I’ve done a bit of everything and haven’t had the same address for more than a year. When I eventually felt I’ve learned enough, I knew it was time to do something crazy, big and scary enough to take all of my time away from my many activities and dedicate it to that one grand project. This is what Uniti is. It’s enough to put me on the edge of not even surviving as a human being–that’s the place I want to be. I love pressure. Any daily rituals like morning coffee or yoga? Not really. I’m actually quite switched on during the last few hours before I wake—I’m going through obsessive mental simulations about the upcoming day, evaluating different meeting scenarios, speeches, and so on. I’ve recently noticed that I probably shouldn’t be doing any significant stuff until 1 pm, until I’m at my most stable. At 1 pm I eat some plants—whatever they might be—and start doing serious work. Typically, I’ll have a dinner meeting at 7 or 8 pm and then it’s computer work time at home. Midnight is when I usually start to wind down and then I just do it all again, seven days a week. Maybe not having an OFF switch will kill me one day, but so far it’s all right. NW LH
More women behind cars In one of his interviews in SnapMunk, Horne mentions that Uniti is now receiving and equal number of boy and girl applicants, and is happy about it, as the lack of women working in this industry is something he hopes to challenge as his company grows. ‘Because the previous generation of automotive industry workers here in Europe is all white males in suits, and they’re still running the show. Never in history has a car company been made up of an equal number of boys and girls starting from the ground up. If we could pull that off now, it would be such an inspiration for later generations.’
Are you afraid of being trapped in a routine? Well, I think I that won’t happen to me since I’m darting around at all times and I enjoy radical changes, like switching from eating terrible food and drinking too much alcohol to then having nothing but water and plants. I love to disrupt patterns because I can see people getting lost in them. As soon as you change it up, it gets slightly uncomfortable, very difficult, but something creative is bound to happen. NW LH
What would your advice be to young entrepreneurs? LH I’d say look at every piece of advice very critically. You get so much advice in this environment and typically it’s not helpful at all, so you have to bear in mind that it might be coming from someone’s personal scars or doubts. Try to create your own knowledge by not directly accepting the way that anything is done. Other than that, eat plants, stay healthy, and fear nothing. NW
What about your own business strategy? I like chaos theory and the fact that we can change one small thing right now, which can have a huge impact on how everything develops down the line. If we just blindly follow the planned path, we’re not open to all ideas and possibilities. You should always make the best decision for a particular moment based on the most current information and knowledge you have. This means you’d always be ahead of everyone who’s relying on decisions they’ve made in the past. That’s probably not going to work for Uniti forever–we have to plan many different operations, but I’m sure I’ll always be that pain in the ass injecting chaos into everything. Our primary value is being open, and by that I mean open to people as well as to their ideas, and certainly to new, challenging, extreme ways of seeing things. Being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. You should also trust that your target audience will buy your product if your case makes sense; the people are getting smarter, less ignorant, more educated. We trust the new intelligence. NW LH
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Have you seen the Uniti updates? Isak, the prototyping manager, and Albin, the art director, are two ‘advertising-good-looking’ guys that get even our notso-interested-in-cars team to watch the Uniti video episodes. You can see that this company is alive, driven, open, chaotic, and has an interactive structure that binds it together with high energy. ‘Being there, I felt transformed’—says N WIND guest-editor, Ignas Survila. ‘What Uniti is cannot be limited to the electric car. It is a movement, which is what makes it strong and special, and hardly replicated elsewhere.’
uniti.earth @teamuniti Ignas Survila, a guest editor for the current N WIND issue, is a designer, entrepreneur, and founder of Citybirds—the company that creates awardwinning kick scooters, a far cry from any dull grey bird you might see in the city. Through his brand, his openness, and his sharing, Ignas invites people to move in their own way. @ignas.survila @city.birds citybirds.lt
“90 to 95% reductions in material and energy are possible in developed nations without diminishing the quantity or quality of services that people want.” It seemed improbable to me that we might achieve the same quality of life for 5% of the resources we currently consume. My first reaction was that this assumption was nothing but an ideological exaggeration of environmentalist dreamers. But the more I researched, the more evidence I found that it is not a dream, it is a realistic concept. It includes the solution to problems such as the increase of the global population and environmental pollution. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? This is a chance for designers to work positively and use radical creativity to make this concept a reality. Design can be much more than “concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers”, to quote Papanek. Design can really become an innovative, highly creative, cross disciplinary tool, responsive to the true needs of the real world. As the Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon defined in his book ‘The Sciences of the Artificial’: “Design devises courses of action to change an existing situation into a preferred one.” So we may conclude that design is, first and foremost, a way of thinking. This anecdote, for example, is about design.
Disrupting planned obsolescence Limiting the excessive use of energy and materials and to make prioritised products more sustainable and with a longer life-span would be a big step in the right direction. But this attempt would immediately collide with the fundamental interest of the industry to increasingly produce large quantities of cheap stuff. To solve the problems of the great depression 1932, a man named Bernard London proposed the concept of planned obsolescence. He said: “In the future we must not only plan what we shall do, but we shall also apply management and planning to undoing the obsolete jobs of the past”, which sounds very sensible. In 1954, the designer Brooks Stevens brought up this concept again at a design conference in Minneapolis. In his keynote he proposed, less sensibly, “to instil in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than necessary”. Design was a crucial tool in this. Engineering, too, e.g. by installing hidden breaking points in products to reduce the functioning life span. This was the moment design became a bad thing. But it was good for business and started a golden age for the design industry. The criteria for the quality of design became reduced to its outer shape and its marketing success. “It is not creative unless it sells”, stated the British advertising expert David Ogilvy. Planned obsolescence rules the minds of shareholders, CEOs, managers, marketing sales executives and, yes, designers. It has become our business to heat up mass consumerism. The madness of the new increased the need for new design, simultaneously decreasing the value of design. Let’s take a simple example: the washing machine. The interest of the producer is to sell as many machines as possible. In a world, where virtually every household owns such a machine, there are two ways to sell new ones: 1 The new machines look better and create the desire to replace the old, but still functioning, machine. One way to support this is to use surfaces which age badly and make the product look ugly (emotional obsolescence). 2 The life span of the machine is artificially reduced. In other words, it is designed to break (functional obsolescence). The interest of the owner of a washing machine is to have clean clothes. In 2016 the average lifespan of a machine was 6.92 years, the average number of runs per year was 186 times which sums up to 1.287 runs per lifespan. The average price of a washing machine was 521 €. Putting the investment costs against the number
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Upon reading his book, I was shocked. Design– bad? My dream to become a designer was based on the desire to make this world a better place. I had always linked design with beauty, truth, and all that is good. Great minds like Plato and Aristotle agree with me, do they not? What I still did not understand was that they referred to beauty not as outer appearance but as inner value. Papanek’s critique condemns the abuse of beauty to “make people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people who don’t care”. This kind of deceit is not only ethically questionable (if not to say a criminal act), it brought us the madness of the new, and the habit of producing immense amounts of waste very quickly—we are facing the biggest environmental catastrophe ever created by man. I had been proud of my career, proud of being a designer. Now I found myself in a crisis. I was not part of the solution, I was part of the problem. In order to find answers I started reading about aesthetics, addictive consumerism, planned obsolescence, responsible design, nature and capitalism, sustainability, climate change (no hoax), etc. I wanted to find a way to work positively and contribute to our changing society (despite not quite belonging to the youth anymore). I found a lot of answers. In “Natural Capitalism, The Next Industrial Revolution” by Hawken, Lovins and Lovins, I discovered this stunning statement:
HOW GOOD IS
“There are professions more harmful than […] design–but only a very few of them” writes Victor Papanek in his book “Design For The Real World” which I should have read at the beginning of my career. (I did not.) He concludes that: “in an environment that is screwed up visually, physically and chemically, the best and simplest thing that architects, industrial designers, planners etc., could do for humanity would be to stop working entirely. […] we can go beyond not working at all and work positively. Design can and must become a way in which young people can participate in changing society.”
The head of the department of chemistry at a university has to solve a budget problem. His students need chemicals for their laboratory exercises. Disposing of the toxic waste that results from these exercises is costly. So, the more chemicals, the more toxic waste, the more budget cuts for the department. To solve the problem they change the direction of the laboratory exercises. Instead of experimenting by mixing pure chemicals the students now focus on extracting pure chemicals from the toxic waste. The budget problem is solved, and the students end up as chemical experts in solving environmental problems. What if we used this kind of creativity to create solutions for the economic, ecologic and social problems we are faced with as a result of the rapidly growing world population complacent with irresponsible consumerism? What is the first step to take?
GOOD DESIGN ?
Michael B. Hardt
but Good design is always beautiful,
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Eliminating the concept of waste Human beings are the only species on this planet who produce waste. And we do it so extensively that we risk destroying our entire ecosystem, inevitably extinguishing ourselves in the process. A very stupid predicament for the most intelligent species on the planet. Some years ago I participated in a workshop together with a few other designers and Sami artisans. The aim of the workshop was to learn from each other. We worked with materials we found in nature. I used a reindeer antler. I carved and sanded it and ended up with a lot of white powder all over my desk. A young Sami looked at it and asked, “What will you do with it?”, meaning the antler dust. “Don’t worry, I will vacuum it up”, I replied. “Can I have the dust?”, he then asked. “What do you want it for?” “I don’t know yet, I will find an idea. The dust is too precious to be thrown away!” This short conversation changed my entire way of thinking. Waste is nothing but a lack of creativity.
Designing an emotional bond between the user and the product It is remarkable but not surprising that we have lost our emotional relationship with the products we use. We don’t emotionally relate to the smartphones we use today. After an average of eighteen months we replace them with a newer model, unaware that this habit is responsible
for several hundred kilograms of additional CO2 emissions with every phone. Modern products lack emotional durability. A user’s perceived emotional bond with a product grows over time and makes it less likely that the product will be replaced. Inducing consumers to replace products before such an emotional bond is established is a trick of modern marketing. “New” is equated with “desirable”. No designer wants to create meaningless stuff. The fact that the old generation of designers created well-designed, but badly functioning products has been the result of careless superficial thinking. In her master thesis, one of my students, Lise Johansson, identified (2017) six factors to consider when designing for emotional sustainability: The product: requires the option to be repaired and updated, is one of a kind and develops uniqueness over time, expresses quality, is reliable, expresses that someone has put effort into making it, is connected to memories. In a workshop about sustainable design I had asked my students to show five products they are emotionally connected with. All of them met the requirements above. I notice an increasing awareness among my young students of the existing situation and the desire to take on the huge tasks to solve the problems created by our old, erroneous ways. They understand that good design is always beautiful, but beautiful design is not always good. As John Thackara wrote in his remarkable book ‘In The Bubble’: “If we can design us into troubles, we can design us out.” Yes! Don’t resign—design! Our creative skills are needed to solve the problems of the real world. Design shall not create illusions—instead, it will create visions of a better world. Michael B. Hardt design consultant, former chairman of the Bureau of European Designers Associations, former vice president of ICOGRADA (Ico-D), former professor at the National Academy of the Arts in Bergen, Norway, former guest professor at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, currently teaching at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall, Sweden.
beautiful design is not always good
of washings and the lifespan of the machine in relation, the user spends 0.40 € per run, not taking the costs for washing detergent, water and energy into account. (Source: own internet research July 2017.) If the interest of the producer would not be to sell new machines but to earn 0.40 € per washing, he could easily double or triple his income per machine by doubling or tripling its lifespan, which is technically not a big deal. The producer remains the owner, the user pays rent per run. A win win situation. The producer earns more, the user avoids a high investment and has no higher costs. The design, of course, needs to be timeless, the material needs to age without getting ugly, the maintenance and repair facilities must be simple and efficient. At the end of its lifespan, the producer takes back the old machine and reuses as many parts as possible to build a new one. To achieve this kind of symbiosis the producer and the user, we would have to disrupt the existing consumerist system already in place. Tearing down a whole system to replace it with another sounds daunting, but many don’t realise how many times this has already been done. Disruption is the secret of the success of Silicon Valley’s new economy. They don’t improve existing systems, they disrupt them, change them. AirBnB did not want to become another hotel chain, they wanted to change the existing concept of hotels. They are now the biggest hotel company in the world, and they don’t own a single hotel room. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft did not exist thirty years ago and are also the result of disruptive creativity. If we want to design for the real world, we can no longer work for the marketing departments of the old economy. We have to challenge the existing system and exchange it for the system that takes into account everything we have learned over the past 200 years.
Take-off Rihards Funts: Time
Lithuanian Design Forum: Change
Time is the fourth dimension that makes it possible for objects to shift in space. Here we have selected four Latvian design objects that provide a movement experience. Designer Germans Ermičs succeeds in capturing an implied sense of movement in his static mirrors and glass design objects. Erenpreiss and Roo represent engineering concepts focusing on aerodynamics and ergonomics. Dabas koncertzāle blurs the borders between physical, visual, and aural movement by playing with video projections, music, and light in a unique natural environment.
There is nothing more constant than change. Here we have collected five Lithuanian design pieces that relate to the concept of ‘movement’ in some way. The innovative designs provide solutions for more convenient daily transportation, inventions that speak to our need for interaction and personalisation, and projects that stimulate with fresh approaches and inspire us to further self-development.
Dabas koncertzāle is much more than a concert, it has become an eagerly-awaited national event that is sponsored by the government and free to the public. Here musicians work together with scientists, designers, videographers, and light artists to create an unforgettable aesthetic and scientific experience in nature. The event aims to bring attention to the natural world, focussing on a particular native Latvian plant or animal for each concert. The stage/ pavilion is an active part of the performance; it not only houses the musicians and their instruments, but also acts as a screen upon which that year’s specially created light show is proPhotography and graphic design by Marika Latsone
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Dabas koncertzāle (LV)
jected. The portable stage is re-designed each year to serve multiple functions and to fit artistically into the landscape chosen for the performance. The pavilion/ stage is set up in wild, remote Latvian spaces where it serves to unite the concert performance with the surrounding nature to provide a magical, musical, artistic, and scientific experience.
One might argue that movement is inherently designed into everything created by the universe, but we humans only create in repetition. We’ve asked Rihards Funts, an industrial designer from Latvia, and the Lithuanian Design Forum to select design objects for this issue with movement in mind.
Photography by RKF
Photography by Jussi Puikkonen
Germans Ermičs (LV) Germans Ermičs is a Latvian-born designer based in Amsterdam. He uses glass and colour as media for the implementation of his ideas about optical illusions and playing with spaces. Sensitive colour transitions transform flat glass and mirror surfaces into sculptural objects in a single stroke. Ombré Glass Chair & Horizon Screens, 2017
Photography by Viesturs Masteiko
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The basic idea behind the Roo rocking chair was to find a shape with the potential to be produced from a single package of flat plywood sheets, while keeping the feel of a classic toy. Inspiration came from the traditional Japanese origami paper folding technique. The minimalistic, ergonomic, and lightweight design gives the immediate impression of a rocking toy. Roo’s look is a playful mix of sheep, kangaroo, and horse that gives the toy another creative dimension. Designer Aldis Circenis. rkf.lv
Erenpreiss (LV) Model: Sparrow Witness the rebirth of a Latvian design legend—the Erenpreiss bicycle! The new bicycle is not merely a copy of the original 1927 bicycle. After a great deal of in-depth research, the bicycle has been redesigned using modern technologies and updated to include a small series of models that make use of new design solutions while staying true to the original aesthetic sensibility. The new bicycles embody the main values of the legendary Erenpreiss cycle—light-weight, highquality, aesthetic beauty, and dynamic ride. erenpreiss.com
Take-off Scooter Pigeon (LT)
The currentpowered river ferry Uper (LT) Architects: Justinas Dūdėnas, Šarūnas Šlektavičius Engineer: Donatas Stasiulis Communication specialist: Paulius Zaviša The eco-friendly ferry Uper uses an innovative, yet simply designed vehicle to connect the two banks of the river Neris in Vilnius. The current-powered shuttle ferry is designed for passengers and their pets or bicycles. Its unique construction allows quick assembly and disassembly, making it easy to transport. Although the first trips are currently taking place on the Neris, the construction can be used on any other river. ‘We hope that this unique ferry, developed and manufactured in Lithuania, will become an industrial product worthy of taking its place in the ecological transportation market’, the designers told us. u-per.lt
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Designer: Barbora Adamonytė-Keidūnė Company: EMKO Life as we know it is dependent on the Earth’s revolving cycle around the Sun. Inspired by the colourful changing skies above Lithuania, the SUNrise/set lamp provides the a choice of colour palette to suit the user’s mood. All you need to do is gently slide the light source over the coloured panel to light your office with refreshingly cool bright morning light or your living room with warmth glow of a cosy evening. Created at the Vilnius Academy of Arts.
SUNrise/set lamp (LT)
Designer: Ignas Survila People nowadays hurry through all aspects of their lives, forgetting to enjoy the present moment. Designer Ignas Survila and Citybirds believe there is a way to transform your daily commute into a delightful and pleasant process. The compact, easy-to-fold, streamlined, yet comfortable-to-use Pigeon scooter provides a solution. After stripping away all unnecessary details, the scooter became lighter—totalling 4,5 kg all in all. The wooden plate designed for foot positioning has an extra braking function. The handle is a special design element, also made of wood, that encourages users to indulge in a pleasant experience.
Experimental packaging from algae-based material Designer: Austėja Platūkytė Young Lithuanian designer Austėja Platūkytė invites us to rethink our consumption habits and lead a Zero Waste lifestyle, one of the current social movements of the day. This project is the result of an experiment aimed at finding a substitute for synthetic plastic using only natural resources that could later be returned to nature without doing any harm. During the project the designer came up with packaging containers made from a new, biodegradable algae-based material. Made using only two natural ingredients, this material is wholly organic and compostable. After the product has been used, it can simply be composted or used as a fertiliser.
10 legged rocking chair KU-DIR-KA (LT) Designer: Paulius Vitkauskas The KU-DIR-KA is an eyecatching chair that represents Lithuanian creativity at its best. Named after the author of the Lithuanian National Anthem, the KUDIR-KA has already earned the title of ‘iconic Lithuanian chair’. This chair/rocking chair combo is a wonderful seating solution that augments the traditional arched base of the rocking chair with a futuristic arrangement of multiple vertical legs. The innovative design makes it possible for the chair to easily adapt to the user’s movement, providing the most comfortable, yet stable position. In 2008, an electronic counter to register swing cycles was embedded into the chair by artist Julijonas Urbonas, turning the KU-DIR-KA into an interactive design object.
Rihards Funts and his MAD
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Rihards Funts is an industrial designer who has been running the design studio RIJADA since 2007. The specific character of the studio was formed by combining design, craft, art, science, and social responsibility, while simultaneously ensuring high quality for all of its products. Currently Rihards is in the process of developing an internationally recognized design summer school— MAD. MAD brings together a heady mix of designers, artists, craftspeople, and scientists––people who are unlikely to meet under normal circumstances. Mad theories and hypotheses are tested in practice through creating new things and new
experiences. MAD embraces ‘soft’ definitions of art and design, creating useful and aesthetically pleasing objects in a process where the disciplines required by various crafts evoke an irresistible desire to rise to the challenge of doing authentic creative work. ‘I see a design as form of art that unites rational and emotional perception of objects, where the aesthetic value of an object has its roots in craftsmanship and engineering, and becomes visible through the functionality of the object, highlighting the value of selected material. Useful things should be made beautiful.’ designsummerschool.com @mad_summer_school
Lithuanian Design Forum Lithuanian Design Forum is an association, that seeks the acknowledgement of design as a catalyst for the development of modern society and a factor for sustainable economical growth, the deeper use of design in production, communication and public life. Thus DESIGN WEEK LITHUANIA festival, national design prize GOOD DESIGN and travelling Lithuanian design exhibitions cycle DESIGN LITHUANIA were born to maintain this mission. dizainoforumas.lt @dizainoforumas
Zero Waste lifestyle (LT)
Photography by Visvaldas Morkevičius
THE MASTER OF PATIENCE Gediminas Šiaulys, animation director and artist
Karolis Vyšniauskas ‘You need a lot of patience’, he admits. ‘It’s very difficult to spend so much time on one project, especially when the result is so short. You go to the cinema, make yourself comfortable, start watching and… It’s over. There were moments when I felt I wouldn’t make it. But then I’d pull myself together and kept on going. As an artist, you must stay focused.’ Gediminas may have inherited his patience from his sculptor father. But there is another reason why he is able to keep on calmly creating his own animated world when the real world goes crazier every day. Gediminas, now 38, experienced his childhood and adolescence before the Internet and smartphones changed our lives. It was a different time. ‘When I was a child, there were few distractions in my life. I could stare at the water after the rain poured down in my backyard. I would take a wet leaf, put it in the water and watch it float. I learned to observe the little things.’ Animation is all about the little things. Animators have to create every single object in their films themselves. That is why, Gediminas argues, there are fewer people now who commit themselves to this art. It is hard to concentrate on large-scale projects when you grow up constantly distracted by your Facebook messages.
Keep on going When Gediminas was 10, he found a Russian book called How to Create Animation. He loved it, but couldn’t do anything with it. At the time there were no animation classes for kids. As he grew up, he learned the craft of graphic designer but his passion for moving pictures never left him.
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When Gediminas Šiaulys’ daughter asked him, ‘What is death?’, the artist became curious. Running Lights, his short animation film about the endless circle of life was created to provide an answer—and marked Gediminas as the top animation director in the country. The beginning of Running Lights is shocking—a beautiful bunny gets hit by a school bus and doesn’t survive. But then the unexpected happens. The spirits within his body come alive and start their independent lives. The story takes place in a mysterious forest that comes straight from Gediminas’ imagination. The striking visuals are accompanied by an ethereal musical score performed by Lithuanian singers Jurga Šeduikytė, Eglė Sirvydytė, and the duo Fusedmarc. This may sound too spooky for kids, but Gediminas, an eternal optimist, makes the film seem light-hearted. He shows that in every ending there is a new beginning. In August Running Lights was given the award for ‘Best Original Design’ at New York’s Animation Block Party—one of the leading animation festivals in the world. No other Lithuanian filmmaker has achieved this! In September alone the film was screened in the UK, South Korea, Portugal, Ukraine, and Russia. Running Lights also was recognized back home. It won the ‘Best Animated Film’ and ‘Best Original Music’ prizes at the Lithuanian national film awards—Sidabrinės gervės. The Vilnius International Film Festival Kino Pavasaris made sure the film was screened around Lithuania alongside the Oscar-nominated animated feature My Life as a Zucchini by Swiss director Claude Barras. It took Gediminas 3 years to create 11 minutes of Running Lights, but he doesn’t regret any of it!
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When I start a new project I always ask myself: How is this related to me? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never done anything that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t connected to me personally.
Flight which he couldn’t control everything himself. In 2013, again inspired by his experiences being a father, the artist co-directed an animated theatre show Daddy’s Fairytale (or Tėčio pasaka in Lithuanian) in which actors and animated characters act together. The show was an instant hit. It was given the award for ‘Best Children’s Theatre’ by the Lithuanian Professional Theatre Awards Committee. Since it’s premiere, Daddy’s Fairytale has been performed almost every month and is still running. Gediminas’ daughter has seen the show at least 10 times—and never gets tired
‘I found out about motion graphics and was struck by it! I enjoy the freedom and independence it provides. You can create everything yourself—the world, the characters, the stories. If you do it right, animation touches the viewer like no other art form can.’ Gediminas has been working in one creative field or another for more than 15 years. Together with the colleagues from PetPunk collective he created ads for big names companies such as Nike, MTV, and Microsoft. But the world of advertising wasn’t enough for him. And so he entered into a completely new medium—one in
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“Running Lights” screens
When you look at the grand scale of the universe, our personal problems are very small.
of it. That is the best award for his patience and hard work, he says. It seems that everything Gediminas touches turns to gold. How does he do it? ‘When I start a new project I always ask myself: how is this related to me? I’ve never done anything that wasn’t connected to me personally. I believe that if you want to make a lasting impact with your art, you have to think as an author. You have to go down to your own personal history. I’m analyzing myself a lot, trying to realize why I prefer certain things rather than others. It comes down to intuition. You have to trust yourself.’ Gediminas is not a fan of trends. ‘We see what our neighbours are doing and we want to do the same. That’s very natural. But if you want to create something truly personal, you have to focus on what is inside you. There is a high chance that you’ll find something not only personal but also universal. Your job is to communicate that. That’s the miracle of art. Through art you can bring things from the subconscious level into reality. That is what I am trying to do with my own work.’
Gediminas seems confident about his work, his aesthetics, and his passion for projects. So we asked him to answer one of the toughest of questions—the one that became the inspiration for Running Lights. What is death to you? ‘I’m afraid of it’, says Gediminas. ‘It’s hard to realize that we all have limited amount of time. That one day I won’t be able to create. That is scary. But at the same time it works as a motivator to get me up in the morning and keep on going. The more you’ll work, the more you create. And, if you’re doing it with the right attitude, hopefully you will create something that will make other people’s lives happier.’ Gediminas dreams big. His next goal is to create an animated feature film which would analyze serious issues from an optimistic point of view, something that Running Lights has already achieved. ‘When you look at the grand scale of the universe, our personal problems are very small. I like how stand-up comedians make us laugh at our problems. It’s all about a point of view. In my future films, I want to provide a different perspective to our everyday issues.’ It will take time to finish such an ambitious project. Barras worked on Life as a Zuchhini for 10 years. That is a normal amount of time for an animation feature. You need a lot of patience, but we know a guy for whom that won’t be a problem. gedsia.com @gedsia Karolis Vyšniauskas is a Vilnius-based journalist covering culture and social issues. His newest project is the NYLA podcast aiming to deconstruct the modern world.
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“Daddy's Fairytale”. Photography by Darius Petrulaitis
“Running Lights” screens
SHE WHO GIVES A F**K
A friend pulled me along to the screening of a project called X Confessions. It was hosted in a well-known members’ club in Berlin in a space accommodating thirty red velour couches. When the lights came back on, the audience, whose gaze had been hungrily aimed at the screen, began directing it towards one another, aroused yet confused, with the slightly uncomfortable feeling of having shared something in public that is usually experienced in private. Not having had any real interest in porn in the past, I suddenly found myself wanting to get to know this director who had changed my relationship to an art form fundamentally intended to arouse and excite. Meet Erika Lust, award winning author, screenwriter, director, and producer who took pornographic matters into her own cinematic hands and made them as feminist as can be. Born in Sweden and now based in Barcelona with her husband and two daughters, Erika challenges the mainstream porn industry and its audience by making adult indie films that don’t compromise between female pleasure, cinematic aesthetics, and professional ethics.
growing up when I felt I wanted to explore my sexuality more—which is the case for most young adults. On the one hand I felt intrigued by pornography, but on the other I felt hugely disappointed when actually watching most films. They were ugly, and the behaviour towards women was degrading and even violent at times; nothing quite like today’s mainstream porn though—now it’s just absurd. I felt aroused physically but I had an uneasy feeling that I didn’t quite understand. The films were basically about men having sex by means of women and women engaging in sex for the sake of men—all the scenes were stripped of intimacy, context, and cinematography. Everything I watched was done with a very narrow view of sexuality and lacked any sexual intelligence. So I decided to provide an alternative to this specific type of male-gaze, which is insidious in all mainstream porn. I started directing adult movies that I would like myself, and that I thought other women and men looking for something more fresh, erotic, sensual, and actually sexy would like too. Erika Lust Films grew from there. How did you come up with the story and how did your first film get made? EL The Good Girl, my first film, is a female take on the pizza delivery guy trope that can be found everywhere in mainstream porn. It was an obvious first story for me because it was the perfect way to make my statement clear from my very first film onwards. It’s about a woman explicitly taking charge of her sexuality and seeking out her own pleasure. It doesn’t feature any rose petals or silk sheets, it’s just pure lust and good sex. I wanted it to be funny and sexy, while at the same time show that sex can be a lighthearted and erotic experience. NW
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Erika, you studied political science, gender studies, and feminism. How did you decide to make your first porn film? Did you direct other (non-porn) films prior to that? ERIKA LUST My studies were actually very decisive for my career trajectory. I studied relevant academic writing such as Linda Williams’ Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the “Frenzy of the Visible”, so I had the language and the understanding necessary to tackle the issues around women in porn. Porn is important to me because it is a large part of our society and the majority of it is just so awful. I remember this moment N WIND
Gintarė Parulytė Actor and author
Flight X Confessions
It isn’t necessarily the very serious topic that people may think it is. My husband Pablo Dobner and I were both working together when we decided to invest money and shoot The Good Girl. I directed it, released it under a Creative Commons license for free and there were 2.000.000 downloads in roughly 60 days! We founded Erika Lust Films together right after that, in 2004. Pablo kept working in his old job for a while and I began managing the company. When my films really started to take off, that’s when we put all our energy into building the company. When did you resolve to not only make porn films, but to start what would become a movement? What did that movement stand for and aim to revolutionise? EL By the time I started making films there was already a desire for a different style of adult cinema. I was not the first woman to make women’s porn, either. Candida Royalle had started making female-driven movies decades ago. I think some part of the audience was bored with what was available. So it was more like I was adding my voice to a movement that had already begun. It was the perfect time for me to start making films because they were so well received. The success of my first film also proved that there was a real need for another perspective in the genre. In the vast majority of mainstream porn male pleasure is the ultimate goal. The scene typically unfolds through the male prism and the cumshot seems to be the mandatory way to end a scene. The female character is used to satisfy others, but her own pleasure is unimportant. There are many categories with all those tags and labels, catering to every whim and fetish imaginable, but in the end it is all the same— NW
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body parts served up in the same way, bashing against each other. Especially when compared to the adult films of the 1970’s, it seems that production companies have forgotten the passion, the intimacy, the touching, and the pursuit of real pleasure in sex. Perhaps this is due to the advancement of internet and the technologies, which have stripped film-making of some humanity. There is no foreplay, no caressing, and performing oral sex on a woman is practically non-existent. In my company the production crew and office team are predominantly female, which means that the whole process happens from the female point of view, allowing women’s desires to be portrayed alongside men’s. This creates adult films that explore sex, sexuality, and their fantasies in front of the camera in ways that are respectful, relatable, and not degrading to women. In this way, I hope that the understanding of female sexuality can be re-learned and used to tackle sexism and other inequalities in society. You feel strongly about the dangers of mainstream porn being the source of sexual education for children and teens. How do you think this can be challenged and changed? EL My main concern is sex education. Erotic films should be viewed by people over 18 years of age and they should be perceived as entertainment, not as sex ed. But the fact of the matter is that many teenagers are exposed to porn before that age. This is a problem especially in those situations where teens don’t have access to decent sex education resources. The danger is that they copy the behaviours and acts portrayed in the mainstream films because those films are most easily accessed. One of NW
the many problems with free mainstream porn is that it is misogynistic. It perpetuates the idea that women are readily available for sex without question and it normalises degrading and violent behaviour towards women. Besides, most porn doesn’t teach women or men how to communicate their needs and desires, and it can also teach girls to depend on men for pleasure or prioritise a partner’s pleasure over their own. Having said that, it should be understood that my films are made exclusively for erotic purposes and definitely not for educational reasons. I don’t make an erotic film thinking that it might be used as a sexual education resource. What I do make sure to include is mutual respect and pleasure, which is essential in real life love-making too. That way I know that I’m not perpetrating any dangerous messages. However, I am aware of the need for resources one can access when educating young people about pornography. This is why I created The Porn Conversation (thepornconversation.org), an online resource that sex educators and parents alike can access in order to facilitate talking about topics like porn and sexual relationships. Our mission is to give adults the opportunity to help kids and teens make smart and informed decisions regarding pornography. Today we need to have more than just sex education in schools—we need parents to have the porn conversation. How would you like your business to expand? What are your wishes for future projects and what do you aim to achieve in future? EL As long as I keep being inspired and moving from strength to strength, I see myself continuing to charge ahead and, I hope, continue to change porn and the stigma around sexuality and sex. Thanks to the ethical and feminist adult NW
Flight Gintare Parulyte is a Lithuanian-Luxembourgish actor and author living in Berlin. Having newly released her first novella “FUCK”, she likes to spend her earnings on wine that goes well with cigarettes, food that goes well with her hormonal cravings, and music that soothes her existential angst. Reach out to her at: email@example.com
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In my company the production crew and office team are predominantly female, which means that the whole process happens from the female point of view, allowing women’s desires to be portrayed alongside men’s.
cinema movement, we are moving away from the conversation of whether porn is good or bad for society towards tackling the heftier discourse surrounding content, the implications of what is shown on screen, as well as sex work conditions. For a long time, whenever people talked about porn, they would only focus on whether or not it should exist. Nowadays there is real noise coming from the ethical and feminist porn movements and that’s very exciting. We are creating a real alternative to mainstream porn and there is a demand for it. I want to see the directions of its growth, focus on making good erotic films, and improve working conditions and the production process in general.
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The Untamed Dinner and also other events in the pipeline are a personal life journey of pushing oneself forward, further from all the known territories, to experience that fire and energy on a personal plane, taking the hungry spectator with them along the path of the unpredictable and stunning. Kaisa Kahu | Thindividual In 2016 the team experienced an important milestone when their gastronomic performance Seasons was shortlisted by the Bea World Festival—the International Festival of Events and Live Communication, an essential meeting place and networking event for the international event community. The Seasons project consisted of four chapters, one for each season. Again, a great deal of attention was paid to how the food was served. In order to create an intimate evening of fine dining for 30 guests, the story, location, scenography, performance—and of course the food—were designed specifically for each themed event. Seasons was honoured as ‘Best Corporative Event’ during the 2016 annual Latvian Events Awards. untameddinner.com Kaisa Kahu is in art & fashion management. See thindividual.com
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a personal level. During the immesive dining experiences they create their hungry guests join them on an unpredictable, sometimes uncomfortable, and ulitmately satisfying journey. ‘I feel we have something to say on a creative level, and we want to offer our guests an altogether different experience—a true adventure of new emotions!’, says Gundega. On top of the personal fulfilment she gets from this project, she explains that the reactions their dinner shows trigger in others—awe, joy, inspiration, surprise, and new ways of seeing—is the reason they keep on doing projects like these. Unusual locations such as greenhouses and old factories, unexpected ways of using cutlery, design details that create more with less, burning plates, smoke, taped-up mouths, and edible chemistry! To come up with all this takes serious brainstorming, apparently sometimes leading to loud arguments. What usually mellows the team into artistic compromise is keeping the diner’s experience in mind. Marcis and Gundega, the main energetic drivers, have discovered how to cooperate, and they have no plans of stopping thanks to the trust and aprreciation they have found in a truly knowledgeable audience and growing pool of followers. The magic and joie de vivre that sparkles from each of the four personalities that make up the team, their courage to experiment and question old ways, provides a solid foundation for the serendipitous growth and development of the project. Marcis told me that they now have regular followers who look forward to the team’s latest offerings in terms of personal challenge or confrontation with food with an open mind. Make no mistake, Untamed Dinner IS a dinner—everything is deliciously prepared by a chef, just in its own way. Have a look at the pictures, they speak a thousand words.
Established in 2013, the Latvian team of four behind Untamed Dinner create gastronomic performances, aka immersive food experiences, that are a mix of disciplines from theatre, music, science, and technology. Playing around with the concepts of well-being, ethics, and social comfort, the team is also positively obsessed with aesthetics and design. By challenging themselves to question the ‘proper’ dining habits comme il faut, they also pose challenges to their dining guests, who are kindly invited to reevaluate familiar ways of doing things and accept a few new rules set by the chef and art director of Untamed Dinner. Who said that the enjoyment meals has to be a passive experience? Are the rules of dining carved in stone? This team makes sure you step out of your comfort zone! Meet the food squad: Art director Marcis Ziemins is the mastermind behind the concept, Gundega Skudrina the producer/creative director, and Nora Upe is the project manager. They are joined by a hand-picked top chef—currently Andris Jugāns of Riga’s Kuk Buk restaurant—for each of their events. This dynamic and colourful team has found a beautiful synergy as they follow their unique collective path. Together they have created something entirely new for the Baltic states. Gundega was the first to pursue event planning. Then Marcis joined her, having been recommended by a mutual friend, and the two hit it off immediately! Together Gundega, Marcis, Nora, and Andris have all the skills and knowhow needed to make their project a success. When asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’, Marcis and Gundega tell me, almost in unision, that Untamed Dinner is part of a personal philosophy of pushing oneself forward, beyond all known territories, to experience fire and energy on
Giedrė Kosė, Anchovy. Photography by Chiara Santarelli
Giedrė Stabingytė Co-founder of N WIND
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‘The good news is that creativity is scarce and more valuable than ever. So is choosing to do something unpredictable and brave: Make art. Being an artist <…> is an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections and work without the map. If you do those things, you are an artist.’ Seth Godin We speak with Giedrė Kosė, a Lithuanian artist whose creations feel so weird, vile, and vibrant that they change you—there’s a sense of nakedness, your social persona begins to evaporate. And yet she creates pieces to wear. The experimental brand Anchovy, Giedrė’s main project, currently finds itself working with childrenswear that is designed for a life of play and the wonder of girls. But make no mistake, Anchovy is not a children’s brand. Conceptually rooted in the space age, utopianism, and Japanese fashion, Giedrė would like her creations to be regarded as manifestos for new ideas and new worlds, very different from the one we usually experience, and especially for a child. The organisers of the well-known Playtime children’s trade shows recently presented Anchovy with their ‘One To Watch Award’ in New York for being a conceptual trailblazer. Small, not too serious, yet strong and distinctive—we certainly need more anchovies so we would keep looking to the future and be happy to be surprised. I speak with Giedrė from my semi-dark cubicle in Vilnius as she starts her sunny day in California: on the brighter side, a few years ago Anchovy came into existence as the result of an experiment dreamed up by a husband and wife duo—they first dreamed up an app by the same name, which transforms words into colour gradients as you type. This algorithm became a ‘creative stylus’ for her casual avantgarde crea-
THE FUTURE THAT IS ANCHOVY
tions, starting with Anchovy’s very first wearable object—the large silk Habotai scarf, blazing with vibrant colour transitions like contemporary art pieces. Experimentation continues to be at the heart of the brand: ‘Our creative processes are way more experimental than those of a collection development tend to be. We interact with our app during the creation process. We are among the very few childrenswear producers who create their own colours and patterns and, surprisingly, who experiment with their display space at trade shows to make their concepts come alive.’ The SS18 collection presented at Playtime was themed ‘Hiding from the sun’ and included such pieces as a dress made from a perfect circle and motifs of colourful circle shapes. A conceptual stand to present the brand was designed with the help of Lithuanian architects MOA and shipped to New York. ‘Who else would ship the whole stand to a show?’, a valid question considering the costs make such a project nonsensical business-wise for such a small brand. But Giedrė is an artist, and she takes her art personally. However, she is, very pragmatically, aiming to stake her claim on the childrenswear market. As Business Of Fashion reported, childrenswear is coming of age with 6% annual growth (2015) to outpace womenswear and menswear, but is dominated mostly by replicas of what is being sold to adults. Anchovy is counting on growth in the luxury end of the childrenswear market, and aims to be among the few creative disruptors! The nomination from Playtime was perfectly timed. ‘I was told that if they didn’t nominate brands like mine, children’s fashion would not progress. I was deeply moved. All the shows have been a trying experience for me, leaving me deeply in doubt whether the market needs what I am creating. A person
might be ready for my product, but the retailers? No. They are more cautious.’ ‘But it’s your way of doing things?’, I ask. ‘I like to surprise people. We all need surprises, unseen and as yet unexperienced things.’ Extensive travelling may be at the core of this ‘strategy-of-awe’. Giedrė and her husband Karolis have changed countries many times. ‘I was never in a safe bubble. Every movement is a new beginning. It reduces you to being exactly nobody. To be interesting to people who do not know you, you have to be different.’ Travel is deeply embedded in the Anchovy brand: moving from digital to fashion, setting off on creative journeys with different collaborators (the photographers Julija Goyd and Rasa Juskeviciute, and others), and designing collections around concepts like ‘Melting Glaciers’ or ‘Flying Carpets’. Although Giedrė has chosen a wholesale business strategy, she says that as an artist she has gotten herself into a conflict: ‘I have a deep relationship with my creations. Yet the wholesale fashion business model has clearly defined business cycles. What you have created soon becomes outdated. I cannot comprehend it: how can creativity grow old? What I give are ideas and they can last.’ Small fish, big bite. Anchovy is there to trigger our desire to savour the sensations of our imaginations. fromanchovy.com @from_anchovy Anchovy on iTunes store
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Dreamscapes. Photography by Julija Goyd
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Silk scarf. Photography by Chiara Santarelli
Hiding from the Sun, SS18. Photography by Rasa Juskeviciute
THE MOVING MUSEUMS:
According to the statutes of the International Council of Museums (ICOM): ‘A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.’ Do you agree with this definition? Would you change it or add something to it?
Last year, We Are Museums wrote down our own vision of what we feel a museum ought to be in reaction to such definitions. For us: ‘A museum is an open to all, ever changing place, in the service of humanity, where curators act as keepers and transmitters of knowledge, culture and values that are shared with co-curators in innovative and inspiring ways, giving them insight into their past and present and informing their future self-development’. Museums need to be places where curators can create learning experiences and visitors can use the resources available to stimulate their own growth. A visit to the museum should not be only about viewing the content, it should also be about social development, seeing things in new ways, and finding sources of inspiration and fascination!
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Can you think back to a time when you were visiting a museum and had an experience you can still remember and define? The fact that such experiences are so rare raises a question—why do we need museums, if not to go there with no idea what we are looking? I strongly believe that museums can be so much more than buildings used to showcase collections; they must move towards developing new concepts and offering new directions of influence. In fact, this movement has started already! I spoke about this with French video, photography, and installation artist Diane Drubay who is also a long-standing member of the museum and digital community in France and the rest of Europe. Ten years ago, Diane was publishing a blog about the changes in the museum world. Her passion grew into an agency that specialises in consulting museums and cultural institutions. In 2013, Diane founded the organisation We Are Museums based in Berlin and Paris with a single-minded vision to ‘empower museums’ and take part in the transformation of the museum and cultural sector—be it digital, organisational, or philosophical. From curated reference events to working on developing skills, digital leadership, and researching all types of innovation having to do with museums and cultural spaces, the organisation aims to transform both the museum and cultural sector, and the ecosystem that surrounds it. I spoke with Diane about the way she sees museums today.
Our movement begins with the definition: ‘A museum is an open to all, ever changing place, in the service of humanity, where curators act as the keepers and transmitters of knowledge, culture, and values shared with their co-curators in innovative and inspiring ways, providing insight into the past and present, and informing their future selfdevelopment.’ (We Are Museums)
Diane Drubay, French video, photography and installation artist and founder of We Are Museums. Photography by Evelyn Bencicova
In the vast halls of art museums we can often observe people dart from one object to another, tick off masterpieces on their ‘must see’ lists, and perhaps, in the end, don’t remember a thing. What do you think, is it the museum or the visitor that is bound to change? DD Unfortunately, many museums are still creating programs that offer only oldschool interaction. However, many museums are also trying out new things. Since I started my job, many years ago, my hope in the future of museums has only grown. Museums are looking for ways to be change-makers and experiencebuilders, they are really trying to create new ways for visitors to truly interact with the resources they have to offer. For instance, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London they host early-morning yoga sessions for those who wish to do their stretching surrounded by art. We do not have to always interact with art in the same way, following a guide or to listening to a lecture on history. Art surrounds us and should feed us, feed the different parts of what we are as human beings—spiritual, emotional, creative, and intellectual. NW
What kinds of difficulties are faced by those museums experimenting with new concepts? DD We see that museums now are really trying to change and do a lot for that. But one big problem that still prevails is that they are trying to reach everyone, while museums should choose different audience depending on the projects and try to adapt the content, spaces, strategies, and even the vocabulary they are using. I don’t believe in screens, mobile apps, or social networks just for their own sake; these tools should serve a strong purpose and each museum or exhibition has a different one. They should try to be more strategic. I believe that finding some aspect of differentiation to define the vision and strategy of a museum is the hardest part these days. We live in a society where audiences are very diverse yet converging, and they always expect more.
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What strategies should be implemented to help museums to answer the needs of transforming societies? DD To me the word ‘open’ is really means gathering together all the different strategies that a museum can use. They should open their collection as much as possible so that artists, visitors, creative people, designers—everyone—can actually take the collection and do something new it! One really good example is the Rijksstudio in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum; it is quite a famous example, but still one of the best in my opinion. They have an ongoing project to digitalise their collection, publish it online, and then ask people to create something new from the artwork. For example one designer created a collection of sleep-masks decorated with eyes chosen from paintings in the museum’s collection. The Rijksmuseum also set up an award that provides financial support to creatives who design products using images from their collection. This is a revolution! It demonstrates that the museum can provide both content and financial support to designers and artists so that they can actually create new income from the museum’s existing collection in innovative ways. But ‘open’ could also be seen as opening museum spaces to dialogue and diverse audiences, or even open their working processes to start-ups and artists. NW
Are there any ways to make museums more accessible to people? What should be improved? DD I believe that museums should seek to understand the different groups of people that walk through their doors and always try to be as inclusive as possible. For example, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh wanted to make the best audio guide possible, so they collaborated with people who have visual impairments and could explain how best to serve that audience and benefit others in the bargain. The way to do it is to consider the various audiences you want to reach from a perspective of empathy and inclusivity. NW
Destination We Are Museums
Guest at SMK Fridays explores digital casts in Augmented Reality. Photography by Jonad Heide Smith, Statens Museum for Kunst
What qualities must 21st-century museum have? DD As I have already mentioned, a museum must be open. Open in different ways and able to see and hear what is happening in the world around the museum. Furthermore, I want to highlight the fact that working with entrepreneurs and start-ups is really important, museums can learn from the entrepreneurial mindset and work methods, i.e. action-reaction strategies or accepting failure as the basis for a new evolution.
And last, but not least—what are your recommendations for ‘must visit’ museums? DD This question is really difficult because every museum becomes a favourite museum for me. I do not have any advice. The experience that you can have in a museum really depends on who you are... You can go for an evening exhibition, attend a workshop, go with a friend or colleague—each experience is different. The only thing I would recommend is that you pay attention to yourself; what are you like when you visit a museum? Own the experience you have in and of that space.
Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) in Denmark is working hard on its SMK Open project to ‘make art accessible and relevant to far more people’ by ‘making the museum’s collections available as an online resource and tool people can bring into their own lives and use on their own terms’. smk.dk
“We Are Musems” Community in Numbers Participants Speakers Events per year Start-ups Countries Destinations
850+ 110+ 4 20 20 5
Helsinki City Museum in Finland organises exclusive Ghost Walks, complete with mysteries and ghost stories—a unique way to learn about different areas of the city and Helsinki’s cultural history from a unique point of view. helsinginkaupunginmuseo.fi The Women’s Museum in Denmark addresses themes some people may not be ready for. For instance, to celebrate diversity and overcome stereotypes the museum organised a workshop where patrons were invited to freely draw their gender—at least one of the 71 different genders you can choose from when setting up a Facebook profile in Denmark. The Women’s Museum also teaches sex education, gender equality, and democracy to schoolchildren. kvindemuseet.dk wearemuseums.com Diane Drubay: firstname.lastname@example.org Kintija Teilāne is working at kim? Contemporary Art Centre and studying art and culture history in The Art Academy of Latvia.
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Museums are moving in new creative and inspiring directions. Despite the many impulses behind the new concepts—such as rivalry, the desire to be unique, the quest for money—every new concept, exhibition, or program stimulates others in the field to realise their own crazy ideas. There is a plethora of museums in northern Europe that are becoming the incubators of new experiences. Here are a few examples for inspiration!
"THE 30 min
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The XX century was the century when everything became faster—ships, planes, cars, even communication—the human dream of getting from point A to any other possible point rushed onward, and it seems that the XXI century is going to follow suit. However, changes in our methods of transportation always bring about enormous transformations. The Roman road system changed the ancient world, while, in the XIX century, the Transcontinental Railway finally connected California to the rest of USA. Today it is the Hyperloop—a new form of transportation proposed and then open-sourced in 2013 by businessman, inventor, and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk. The Hyperloop principle is actually rather simple, It consists of a collection of low pressure tubes is used to move special vehicles quickly from one point to the next via electric propulsion. Lifted above the track by magnetic levitation, the Hyperloop vehicle will be able to travel incredibly fast—up to 1078 kilometres per hour—due to incredibly low aerodynamic drag. If this sounds like science fiction to you, it isn’t! All of these technologies are already well researched. The main questions about the Hyperloop is no longer “if”, but “when” and “where”. The Nordic region may well be one of the early adopters of this futuristic idea, which would change the region tremendously as a result. Once the Hyperloop project became an open-source project, the California based company Hyperloop One began working on turning these ideas into reality. Hyperloop One has already built a full-scale hyperloop test side, the DevLoop in the Nevada desert, and the first test runs already took place on May 12th of this year. However, this company also has chosen the Nordic region as one of the first places on Earth where the Hyperloop might make the leap to becoming part of our day-to-day routine. Hyperloop One is currently proposing a test route connecting Finland’s fifth largest city, Tartu, to its capital Helsinki, with a single stop in the city of Salo. The Turku-Helsinki line would be proof of concept. And, if the test runs are successful, this line is expected to evolve into a 21 new (and incredibly fast) connection between Stockholm and Helsinki! Furthermore, Alan James (VP of Global Business Development at Hyperloop One) has proposed a hyperloop line connecting Tallinn and Helsinki. The estimated price for the Helsinki-Stockholm hyperloop is 21 billion dollars (something like 64 million dollars per mile), while the Helsinki-Tallinn line would cost a little bit less—only about 19 billion dollars. However, the money saved would also be enormous: all in all, the Helsinki-Stockholm hyperloop would pay for itself in about ten years. The Helsinki-Stockholm line would transform the area between these two cities into a heavily urbanized zone, effectively erasing the borders between the towns of Espoo, Lohja, Salo, Turku, Norrtälje, Arn, Upsala, and even the Åland islands.
Vladas Lašas is a Lithuanian businessman and innovator, founder of the companies Skubios Siuntos, Elin Vision, Elinta, and GRE Holding, and he is also the founder of the startup accelerator program Techstars London and a Mars One adviser. To learn more about the possible impact of Hyperloop One projects on the Baltic region, we asked him a few questions: In what way would the Helsinki-Talinn and Helsinki-Stockholm hyperloop lines transform the region and the lives of the local inhabitants? VLADAS Let’s remember history: trains, LAŠAS cars, and planes weren’t only technological revolutions, but also great stimuli both for the progress of humanity and for social and economic development as well. Hyperloop technology could become the revolutionary technology of our time. All we need is to believe in ourselves and, together with our great neighbours we can show the EU and the entire world how the Baltic and Nordic countries can work together creating, testing, and implementing Hyperloop transportation technology. Like any new and more perspective mode of transportation, the Hyperloop would enable us to travel, communicate, and cooperate much more rapidly than we can today. This would create an extremely economically and socially strong, integrated, and innovative New Nordic region that would encompass both the Nordic and the Baltic countries. The Estonian example shows that the benefits provided by a fast, reliable between Helsinki and Tallinn would improve the conditions for cooperation between these countries, making them both stronger. Hyperloop technology is disruptive and revolutionary. A Hyperloop network connecting all of the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea would immensely improve accessibility within the region, doubling or tripling the portential for growth. A great example of the social and economic effects of transportation infrastructure is the bridge/tunnel between Copenhagen and Malmo. When people can move faster and easier, their opportunities expand greatly—where to work, with whom to socialize, and how to spend their free time. N WIND
If these projects prove successful, what are the possibilities of Hyperloop One expanding to other Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, etc.)? VL It is incredibly important for all of us that this initiative receive the support of all countries in the Baltic region. Furthermore, the understanding and support of EU institutions is also of key importance. Salo, once a big engineering centre for Nokia, is now volunteering its resources to project, build, test, and certify first commercial Hypeloop One line. That would also make it a global centre for Hyperloop technological expertise and training specialists. This is NW
What are the possibilities of other companies (Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, for example) becoming interested in the Baltic region? VL Many different companies are working in this field. You have already mentioned Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and there is a plethora of other young teams growing into companies that want to participate. <...> The contest for best and biggest socio-economic-impact-generating Hyperloop line, organized by Hyperloop One, has also achieved tremendous attention. Together with the Dutch government ,Hyperloop One made a presentation in Amsterdam—Vision for Europe. Among the finalists were the projected lines between Helsinki-Tallinn and WarsawVroclav. From these initiatives spring start-ups, seeking to realise these projects—and to create and improve this technology as well. I think the most important thing right now is what we are doing to help make this happen—what are the ambitions and goals of our students, engineers, professors, and state-leaders? Too often we give up early, claiming there is somebody else greater, more powerful, and more resourceful than we are. But that ‘somebody else’ attracts resources and becomes greater and more powerful because they are brave enough to undertake innovative and important future projects. NW
Is the Hyperloop more or less realistic then some of the other projects deigned to connect Baltic region, like Rail Baltica? VL Yes and no— and that depends only on us. If we can understand the kinds of possibilities the Hyperloop provides, and think of ways to maximise its efficiency and benefits, Hyperloop in Baltics could become a reality soon enough. In my opinion, if all interested parties work effectively and in accord with each other, this project wouldn’t require 20–30 years to NW
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Alfredas Buiko is a journalist who writes about science fiction, philosophy, science, and all things in between. Currently he is studying philosophy at Vilnius University and working on his PhD thesis. Reach out to him at email@example.com
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a great opportunity for Lithuania and the other Baltic countries to join in the project, especially for Universities, start-ups, and innovative companies.
complete—it could take less than a decade! Of course, ee need to agree that this is the system we want. If we have the motivation, we have all the possibilities to use this technology to connect and strengthen the region, and to show world the leadership of the Nordic countries— either through creating a New Nordic region encompassing the Baltics, or possibly even a New Hansa region. It is possible that Hyperloop technology will develop so quickly that the EU might take an interest and being viewing the Hyperloop as an integratory project for the entire European Union. The Estonians have already signed a letter of intent with Hyperloop One to investigate the possibilities of a Tallinn-Helsinki line. If people could travel from the centre of Tallinn to the centre of Helsinki in six minutes, would we still be interested in slowly building Rail Baltica? We have already spent twenty years planning, preparing, and building the railway line. However, if smartly implemented, Hyperloop technology could expand and improve the Rail Baltica project using the same corridor. But we shouldn’t blame our railroad professionals—professionals in all fields frequently misunderstand and underestimate new radical technologies, and also tenaciously deny them, because these technologies would destroy their established businesses. Not long ago I saw an interview with the director of the American railway company Amtrak. He said that he does not believe the Hyperloop could work and that it would never replace trains. But it has always been this way. IBM president T. Watson claimed that the world has ‘a market for maybe five computers’. I think that the first Hyperloop line in Finland will become a reality before we will finish building Rail Baltica. I was in Nevada and saw the professionalism, speed, and enthusiasm that Hyperloop One is investing in building the test line and developing this technology.
“I think, any of us can think of at least several examples of things that seemed impossible, but today are commonplace.” Vladas Lašas
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