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Roosegaarde TIDE keynote: ‘Creativity is our capital’

Think creatively, think critically and don’t discount technology that already exists to improve the way we live. That was the message from Daan Roosegaarde, who delivered the opening keynote speech at AVIXA’s TIDE conference yesterday.

The innovator, designer and inventor argued that creating great design in the future is not about thinking of ways to generate money or save time, but is about looking at ways that design and technology can improve life.

Through Studio Roosegaarde, the Dutch artist and innovator has worked on several projects, often using ‘older’ technologies such as LED lighting and retro reflective material to get people to think about the uniqueness of their environment.

As a case in point, he talked about his company’s Waterlicht project, which created a dream-like blue LED light show in Museumplein in Amsterdam to get residents to think about rising water levels and global warning.

“Innovation is engraved in the DNA of Dutch landscape, but it seems to have been forgotten. We used LED technology which has been around for years from a social standpoint to remind people about the creation and importance of dykes.”

The artwork attracted 60,000 visitors in one night when it was first launched.

Another innovation in this area involved using retro-reflective technology to highlight the beauty of the Icoon Afsluitdijk – the dyke’s towers light up for passing cars at night and then fade back to black again when they have passed.

“We always talk about new technology but sometimes it’s already there, hidden in a drawer. You just need to dust it down and shake it off,” he said.

A third project he shared with attendees – inspired following a trip to Beijing – was his smog-sucking towers, which draw polluted air out of parts of a city and then releases 30 million litres of clean air back into the city, making it 70% cleaner than it was before.

Roosegaarde even found a use for the carbon emissions – turning them into diamonds and creating smog-free jewellery.

Each ring represents 1 million litres of clean air – an idea that flew when he launched it on Kickstarter and now helps to finance the cost of producing the towers.

According to Roosegaade, Prince Charles owns a pair of the smog-free cufflinks.

As a young global leader of the World Economic Forum, the designer also shared with delegates the three key skills that businesses of the future should look for in their staff: creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.

“Basically all the things that robots are really bad at,” he said, reminding the audience that for the designers of the present and the future “creativity is our capital.”