Interview with Ross Lovegrove

Ross Lovegrove is a veteran of the industrial/product design scene, he has been there and done that on so many levels. In his early days as a designer at Frog Design in Germany he made his first mark with Sony Walkmans and Apple computers, later taking his talents to Knoll and designing the famously successful Alessandri Office Systems. Returning to London in the mid 80’s his career as in independent designer and consultant he flourished and he can now throw heavy names at you like Driade, Cappellini, Luceplan, Issey Miyaki, Philips, Tag Heuer, Olympus, Japan Airlines, and even Airbus! He is at home at museums worldwide, amongst them the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA), the Design Museum in London and the Vitra Design Museum Weil Am Rhein, Basel, Switzerland. And finally to a testament of his technical knowledge and pioneering of materials Lovegrove was awarded the World Technology Award by Time magazine and CNN in November 2005. There is, however, a dream that eludes him yet and that is to design and realize his vision of the ideal car.

If you are lucky to catch busy Lovegrove at a car show, conference, party or just sitting next to you on a plane he might, he just might share with you his vision…it is unique, pure, and simple. An urban space where everything and everyone lives in symbiotic harmony, where materials are used to their maximum capabilities efficiently while realising minimalistically beautiful objects. Yes, there is a lot of philosophy involved, but most of it stems from nature and the human spirit. His ‘formal’ language is always biomorphic, sensual, and of course what he calls ‘organic essentialism’. So why cars?

For a man who has travelled almost everywhere, designed almost everything the final frontier is car design for the masses. An insular and in many ways slow to develop industry is still producing environmentally defying cars and using un-sustainable means to make them. In Ross’s vision not only should cars have 0 emissions but they should respect nature in its true form and use of materials. To this end he has designed the “Car on a Stick”, arguably not the best name but descriptive none-the-less.

In his own words: “ “Car on a Stick” is the name given to a new concept in urban transport which aims to democratize and liberate cities from the invasive nature of contemporary cars. These bubbles seat four adult passages and have ample space for shopping and baggage under the seat. The symmetrical design promotes highly comfortable access to enter and exit the vehicle as well as to achieve high visibility in the urban environment.

They are built from existing fabrication, energy generating and AI technologies from the least number of components and the lightest materials possible. The car is guided by voice activated technology and incorporates an advanced GPS navigation system so there is no conventional steering requirement.

Proximity sensors ensure that there are no physical interruptions to the flow of the bubbles in motion so they can move in an a more organic random way thus optimizing road space in a flocking principle not unlike birds or fish. The fuel train is a compressed air system so there are zero emission whatsoever in the system.

There is no noise pollution either associated with the bubbles which use a solar canopy to assist in running additional air and pollen filters as well as recharge batteries for supplementary energy storage.

In order to liberate the streets from the physical mass and imposition of contemporary cars ; the bubble can be parked , in the air via a hydraulic stick which elevates the bubble to become a street lamp at night. Any additional energy retrieved via the solar canopy is fed back into the city grid to support pedestrian services such as phone recharging, public information displays or internet access in the street.”

Invariably a utopian vision of what could be the future landscape of cities around the world “Car on a Stick” would be a practical nightmare for any automotive engineer, or car designer for that matter, but that is not the point. It is more important to open the realm of possibilities so that car design and production can enter a new era of development that truly address issues like the evironment (fuel cell or hybrid technology does not go far enough), population flow in urban settings, sensorial pollution, and sustainable transportation as a whole. Projects like “Car on a Stick” and minds like Ross’s do create change and challenge the status quo however its a message and challenge that insitutions need to embrace and listen because they do reflect what people want for their own future

As for his dream, still unrealized but Ross has a knack for making his dreams come true.

Scoop: you might find Ross sponsoring about Solar Power Project at RCA-coming soon!

Swarovski Crystal Aerospace:

“Since I can first remember the shape of the cars developed from the Trans Australia Solar Car Race have fascinated me. This is a world where nature and technology fuse with mans ambition to achieve ultimate performance levels and create a true sense of a sustainable future for us. The forms that have evolved from this particular science embody logic and beauty and stimulate visionary dreams of lighter structures, advanced materials innovation, ecologically harmonized transportation systems and a life of silence and clean air.

Such scientifically engineered entities are art forms of the highest order, and now that we have entered the 3rd Millennium with all our collective hopes and fears, they for me symbolize the potential mans creative thinking and help us refocus our collective ambition. Instinctively I present this as a concept which converges the intelligence of solar innovation with the optical, scientific arm of Swarovski in order to investigate the potential of using crystal to amplify light.” Ross Lovegrove