Archive for the ‘Design thinking’ Category

Clockdust cover

Cover of Rustin Man's "Clockdust" Album

Let’s try something new here: a “mood-scape”, documenting a personal mood/world using words, visuals, and sound. And inviting you to build new worlds by participating on a 1-1 basis. Although “new” is relative: the term moodscape was initially coined in the seventies, and mixing media can hardly be labeled new or novel. But having a “calm” conversation may sound like an anachronism in these times where time itself is collapsing, where time itself has become exponential.

It started with discovering Rustin Man’s new album “Clockdust”. Rustin Man was in a previous life better known as Paul Webb, the bass player of the band Talk Talk. Check out his about page.

Listen to Night In Evening City

I immediately fell in love with the melancholic, nostalgic, slow pace sound of the album, in my opinion, a perfect soundscape for the disorienting times we live in. There is some sort of homesickness here, knowing deep inside that we have already said goodbye to a golden era, and era that I sometimes refer to as the Bowie-Era.

I added a couple of Clockdust songs to my Spotify March 2020 Ride playlist, and one of the songs happened to sit next to David Bowie’s Lazarus song from his Blackstar album. To make a long story short, I created a sub-set of the playlist, containing the songs that I felt best reflected my March 2020 “Mood”. There is one coming for April as well 😉

I suggest you let it play in the background in shuffle-mode whilst reading this blog post, as I believe it may augment what I am trying to share.

The cover is a picture from Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet), a choreography with costumed actors transformed into geometrical representations of the human body.

ballet black white

Ballet colour

There is also this wonderful video testimony of one of the early performances of that choreography

The video sent me back in time – clockdust time – when I was a 6-year old schoolboy. For the very first time in my life, I stood – proudly – in front of a huge whiteboard in the classroom – it was a blackboard with white chalk – and we were invited by the teacher to properly write the letters of the alphabet with white chalk on this blackboard.

It must have been my early creative juices, but I could not withhold myself drawing big white spirals instead of well-formed a’s and b’s, etc. on that black-black blackboard. Result: punishment and the lesson learned that a classroom is not a place for creativity and imagination.

In vain, the seeds were sown, and spirals, spheres, labyrinths, maps, and foams became – with hindsight – an obsession. I love the endlessness, and the recursiveness of these shapes and forms. Especially double, entangled spirals or labyrinths get me going…

This high-end Balenciaga Summer 2020 production, with music from BFRND, is a perfect timestamp of our times. Grim black coats, at times almost German SS uniform like Arial race,… our sleepwalking into fascism. One thinks The Matrix, hard as stone, sharp as a knife, and greyed out faces. Will we take the Red or Blue pill? Blue for sure is the backdrop for what Balenciaga call “Power Dressing”.

balenciaga moods

Balenciaga Summer 20 reimagines dressing for work: power dressing, no matter what one does as a job. Looks transform a wearer in the way a uniform can. Unlike their archetypes, though, garments and accessories are made using unconventional processes.

They talk about New Fashion Uniforms, Seamless Tailoring, New Trompe L’oeil, Super Plissé, Pillow Parkas, Fetish Gownsn, and Wearable Ballroom dresses.

Models of various career tracks interpret and play on beauty standards of today, the past, and the future.

Enter Masks, a new book by James Curcio, about Bowie and other artists of artifice. I spotted the book in a guest post by James Curcio on Ribbonfarm’s always excellent blog.


The difference between a king and a beggar, a soldier and a murderer remains in the realm of performance, a kind of farcical mummers trick that we agree to play along with, if often unconsciously.

The bulk of the book is about Bowie’s unique conceptual art, his capability to create new coherent worlds and identities. I miss Bowie.

The post and book also refer to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s book Simulacra and Simulation, apparently required reading for the actors of The Matrix before filming. According to Wikipedia, Baudrillard is “best known for his analyses of media, contemporary culture, and technological communication, as well as his formulation of concepts such as simulation and hyperreality.”

It cannot be happenstance that I find a reference to Simulacra and Simulation in “Design Unbound”, fantastic two-volume work on “Designing for Emergence in a White Water World”, by John Seely Brown and Ann M. Pendleton-Jullian, a print-only MIT Press publication. Chapter 14 is about “World Building”: “much more than just the setting for a story, word building creates coherent contexts that stories become to inhabit”

This is very much avant-garde, feels a lot like Cobra world-building practices like New Babylon by Constant Nieuwenhuis.

I feel like I am drifting into a thin timeline, and time is slipping through my fingers like clockdust. A shaken gravity, with no reference framework, unable to make U-turns, and affront reality with an open mind, heart, and will.

I need a new backdrop, a new backstory to make or break sense. I want to liberate myself from the harness of fixed time and space. An opening-up that leads to more vulnerability – and less power dress. With proximity, intimacy, and closeness – like the closeness and blissfulness that is evoked in “Two Sleepy People” in the March 2020 Mini-Ride.

In that sense, the from/to framing of before and after COVID-19 is misleading. I believe we have to start thinking of ourselves as analog/digital assets whose state is updated in real-time ànd asynchronously, our lives continuously evolving through space and time. We are indeed astronauts, in need of coherent world-building and navigating clockdust till eternity.

I have time. You have time. Both clock-time (Chronos) and experienced-time (Kairos). Ping me if you want to continue the conversation. I’d love to hear where your clockdust has settled these days.


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EX-perience is “out”, IN-tervention is “in”

When I talk about “experience”, I mean:

  • The new hype of artistic “experiences” at art exhibits
  • “Experiences” at events
  • The “experience” of driving a car
  • The “experience” in whatever, like tasting chocolate, as promoted in advertisements

It is almost always about “entertainment”, easy/easier/more convenient consumption, not forcing you to learn a new (or old/existing) language.

CycleGAN - December 22nd 2019 at 3.16.22 PM

Petervan Artwork © 2020 – Canvas through CycleGAN cloud AI model


When I talk about “intervention”, I mean:

  • Provoking
  • Asking questions
  • Challenging assumptions
  • Planting speculations
  • Through visceral (sensorial) triggers
  • Creating better “resonances”
  • Playing your harmonics, like harmonics in music
  • Hearing the real-real sound (like in Neil Young Archives)

Formats can be analog and digital artwork, performances, events, retreats, writings, poems, blogs, installations, exhibitions, immersions, soundscapes, recordings, documentaries, time capsules, AI warps, and fairy tales 😉

Interventions help us rediscover what is real, what resonates, what makes us go into frequency, what moves us, etc. And all this with a direction, with an intention: to enable spiritual, moral and aesthetical advancement at systems’ scale.


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For those interested, here is an overview of what happened in the last couple of months, some new insights, and some updated plans. I often hesitate to publish these snapshot-updates, because 1) they are snapshots only and don’t connect you with the day-by-day journey, 2) plans change over time, and 3) I always wonder who would be interested in this at all. Maybe it’s a way to give some counterweight to some form of imposter behavior.

The Artschool Project

Compared to the previous period, my production of paintings was relatively low. I continued my birds-project, and painted/sketched probably hundreds of birds, in small and big format. I internalized the shape of the bird in a way that it almost becomes a calligraphic artifact


Petervan Artwork © 2019 - Birds - Acryl on Canvas - about 40x60cm


Petervan Artwork © 2019 - Birds - Acryl on Canvas - 120x100cm


Petervan Artwork © 2019 - Birds - Marker on Post-It - 7,5x7,5cm

Next is to make a big work of 720 calligraphic birds, on a grid of 24×30 boxes of 5x5cm

And just came across this video

With this great still of what else I could do with birds:

birds in video

Other paintings and sketches include “Fox-on-the-Run”, “Doorway”, “Interior”, and “No Title”, all Acryl on Canvas – Format 50x50cm

Fox2 cropped V1Doorway croppedInterieur V2 croppedSticks on Water painted cropped

The academy year ended in June, and for the 4th year students, this meant showcasing your work to an external jury. I got some juicy comments but passed.

The last year, I also followed the course “Art and Culture” by Fiorella Stinders, whose enthusiasm is contagious. I will make a separate post on this, but suffice to say here that we had to apply what we learned about seeing and understanding art to 3 pieces of art: two selected by the teacher (I picked Ali’s Boat below), and one self-selected artwork that you had seen in real life.

Artschool will start again on Sep 2019, and I will start my 5th year painting. This year, I will combine it with Digital Visual Arts. They call it a “cross-over”.

Time Capsules Project

The Time Capsules Project (see my previous update) is a bit on hold. We (my cousin and I) had some good interview with possible candidates. We got a very interesting intro to an art collector living in a castle in the Austrian Alps.


We have a draft proposal ready, but we first want to have at least a prototype of our Beyoncé project, before further engaging with this Austrian patron.


I decided to change the format of Delicacies somewhat. Instead of the weekly deluge, I see an irregular, unpredictable, incoherent, unfocused set of mind-sparks that got me thinking. I gather them as I go, and once every month (maybe every two, three months), I condense the harvest in maximum 5-10 Delicacies. Also a bit back to the joy of discovery and awe, away from the pressure to pump out a too bulky newsletter every week. Hope you find the same joy in reading as I did in discovering.


Check-out the new format here.


Blog rhythm was slow. That’s an understatement. However, I queued up a huge list of reflections. I will try to post them in short blogs, 1-2 per month.


More playing. This time playing around with DJ Pro for Mac. I finally discovered how to mix audio and video. With hindsight, I could as well have done this in iMovie or Adobe Premiere, without the luxury of tempo-synching.

DJ Pro

Petervan Mix of Robyn and Lil' Louis

I am considering the idea of sharing on a regular basis some of my mixes. The working title for this project is “Petervan’s Rides”.

Visual Collisions

For a client project, I started collecting a number of “visual collisions”. Most of these are videos, a minority are pictures. These visual collisions are intended to de-frame an audience before introducing something new.

Currently, the list includes almost 200 video snippets. Here is an example snippet:


I have been reading quite a lot. Some books on design such as “Design Unbound Volume 1 & 2”, and “Speculative Everything”.

I also liked a lot David Weinberger’s “Everyday Chaos”, James Bridle’s “New Dark Age”, Paul Mason’s “Clear Bright Future”, and the fantastic memoirs of Marina Abramovic “Walk Through Walls”.


The absolute #1 recommendation is Ian Cheng’s “Emissary’s Guide to Worlding”. The quote that drove me crazy was:

“A World is a future you can believe in: One that promises to survive its creator, and continue generating drama.”

You can find a link to all the books I am reading in my Goodreads.


I visited some art exhibitions: The SMAK Anniversary in Ghent (still running till end Sep 2019, and Wim Delvoye in Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (just closed end of July 2019)

Wim Delvoye - Embossed Maserati
Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels




Korakrit Arunanondchai Letters to Chantri #1 - SMAK Ghent
2014 video and digital projection (colour, sound), mixed media

My own exhibition

Since I started academy some years ago, I produced something like 500 drawings, paintings, sketches, soundscapes, and video experiments. Many of you have asked whether I even thought of setting up an exhibition of my own work. Well, guess what? That’s exactly what is going to happen begin June 2020 (exact dates to be announced). The challenge will be to make a selection of what to showcase. I have secured a wonderful location somewhere deep into the Flemish Ardennes.


Great summer so far, with a couple of solid heat waves. Getting a nice tan, as maintaining the garden and biking keep me busy. I have about 150 meters of hedges (x2 both sides), so by the time you get to the end, you can start again ;-)? And biking tours are semi-regular small distances (20-40 km) at a very-very low speed.


Astrid ignoring Flying Arrow Warning in Tillegembos - Brugge


Tour De France - Belgian Surrealistic Chocolate Advertisement

The Tour de France 2019 was also close by. A romantic impression of the passage in East-Flanders.


Begin 2019, I started doing some freelance gigs.

  • I do some work for Futurist Gerd Leonhard. Mainly some research, blogging and podcasting. See also my announcement here. In June, we did a gig together in Bucharest, where I acted as Gerd’s assistant for interacting with the audience.

If you look carefully, you see me somewhere in the back. Good to see some friends there as well (shout out to Ioana and Innes!).

  • Some event content curation: some clients ask me to help them with selecting speakers and content for their events
  • I am also involved in a special project for a client, who asked me help creating a truly immersive leadership offsite, think of an Innotribe@Sibos 2016, but then created as a private high-touch retreat/offsite. The client allows me to go deep, to take the time needed to let structure and concepts emerge, like a piece of fruit needs time to mature into something well-developed and juicy. I am starting to label this sort of work “Artistic interventions, interruptions, and provocations”.

All the above helped me getting sharper on what I really want.


Retirement is coming closer. If all goes well, I will retire on 1 May 2020. What will I do with all that free time? I wrote about “The Perfect Day” in my post “Freed from Desire”

But Ursula K Le Quin challenged me in her book “No Time to Spare”


“Life out of the rat race, but still in the comfort zone, can give the chance to be in the moment, and bring real peace of mind.”

It feels I already made the great switch in 2018 when I left corporate life and started doing the things I really love doing in and with my life, following what inspires me: art and reflection. You can already witness the shift in the articles I queued up for Delicacies. With that background, a good summary of what I do could be:

I create artistic interventions, interruptions, and provocations that lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness. Formats can be analog and digital artwork, installations, performances, writings, poems, soundscapes, recordings, and time capsules.

Petervan Studios

This strange mix of formats – or “containers” as Ian Cheng calls them in “Emissary’s…”  results in different practices or studios (plural). That’s why I am starting to brand my collective work as “Petervan Studios”. I switch from the easel to the audio mixing panel, to digital drawing panels, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, Ableton Live and Ableton Push. I now also installed an architect drawing table and chair (found them for FREE on a second hand website), additional lavalier microphones for better audio quality in videos, and some extra tripods for stable imagery.

Looking at the mess, it’s time I commission some studio renovation works: it will include some fresh paint, some better lightning, a huge whiteboard for brainstorming, a quality projection screen, and a shower.


Petervan Studios - The place starts looking very messy now

I also discovered an interesting piece of software called “Descript”, a tool for automated transcripts, and simultaneous editing of text, audio, and video: amazing.


So, what’s next?

The plan for Aug – Oct 2019 is to work on:

  • Finalize and deliver the immersive Leadership Off-site
  • Doing some more cool stuff with Gerd
  • Paint, Paint, Paint
  • Private community test V1 of “Time Capsules”
  • Studio renovation
  • Take some time off in November

So, that’s it for this edition. If there is something worth reporting, next update is for Oct-Nov 2019.







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As part of my search for a new job, I was introduced to an organisation focusing on using design-led engagements to support innovation and understanding customer needs (needs, not problems, see my previous post on the tyranny of the problem solver)

Clouds above the sea

Lyonel Feininger - Clouds above the sea - 1923 - Oil on Canvas

Steve Jobs used to say “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

So, in preparation for the job interview, and to know what to tell the recruiter what to do, I started diving a bit into design-thinking and design-led engagement.

I believe that these approaches are great to create high quality information flows, but that something else is needed than noise-free rapid information transfer.

My good friend and ex-Innotriber Nektarios Liolios kindly pointed out to me during a recent chat that “noise free is not the same as conflict free”.

  • We indeed do need conflict, tension, etc to create flow, movement, change, advancement.
  • But we do need to get rid of the noisy primary motivations of prestige, status, tic-for-tac reciprocity, etc .

I think the key element missing in existing design-led engagements is (great) aesthetics.

As I said some time ago: there should be some ambition of advancement in aesthetics, morality, and spirituality.

I that context I found this great article about aesthetics:

Design used to be about sensitivity, beauty, and taste

The key performance indicator for design has changed from beauty to profit. Measuring design has transformed a handicraft into an engineering job. 

Google, Facebook, and Amazon are optimizing their products for us, as they are optimizing our minds, bodies and our kids for their profit. Humans are slowly adapting to that labyrinth, becoming lab rats of an omniscient industry that adapts to our needs as it is adapting us to theirs.

Labyrinth small V1

Petervan Artwork ©2018 - Hand drawn labyrinth 

Many labyrinths are “meandering”. We need similar meandering in design-led engagements.

We need to bolt-on something upfront that unites, aligns, encourages, and motivates teams at a level beyond the cognitive.

I think I know how to do that.


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still life Song Han

Still life by Song Han

The trigger for this post was an article on the nexxworks site about right & wrong in corporate innovation. The first paragraph focuses on the need to obsess on solving a customer problem. My friend and ex-colleague Kevin commented via LinkedIn:

“Fantastic article! I’ve been banging on for years about starting with the problem, that people care about but this is so much more articulate than me.”

We started a quick exchange on LinkedIn:

linkedin with kevin

The nexxworks article is about much more than problem solving, but problem-solving is what I will be focusing on in this pamphlet/manifesto for creating what you want. As that is where I am coming from.

Not being problem focused seems almost a blasphemy these days. But we don’t realise we have been mis-framed for decades to be problem solvers and solutionists (“there is an app for that”).

It already happens in start-up pitches to start with. Start-ups are coached to pitch in a standard way. It goes back to Guy Kawasaki’s 10 slides to pitch: start with the problem, what is the solution, the team, the business model, etc, etc.

There are the Maddlibs to perfect your one-sentence-pitch. There even are Maddlibs to generate your strategy statement, based on a collection of blah-words (Thx to @swardley).


Everything is “modelled” and vocabulary is standardised: we need MVP’s, lean start-ups, scale-ups, etc. It’s cool, but you then have to explain this new vocabulary to the rest of your troops.

Everything is “role-modelled”. And we get inspired by always the same use cases: Haier, Semco, Apple, Amazon, Uber, etc. We don’t seem to realise that these are exceptions. Only exceptions make the news. The exceptional is normalised, check out hyper-normalisation of Adam Curtis, albeit in another context.

“In the film, Curtis argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simple “fake world” that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.”

Everything is based on a Silicon Valley solutionist style, a reactive/responsive orientation, something our MBA’s and entre/intra-preneurs and leaders/managers have been trained for at nauseum: define the problem, articulate the solution, make a plan to execute, execute the plan with rigor, and be effective and efficient in doing so.

It may be a style semantic. Ex-Trump-PR-guy Sarramuci said: “you may dislike his (Trump’s) style, but he is very effective.” But one can be very effective at doing the wrong thing. One can be very effective at being a problem solver.

I think it’s more than about style. We have become so politically correct. To please everybody, we say things like “It’s probably a bit of both”. That way, confusion about the real intention creeps in. I say we must be opinionated, and we must be judgemental, we must choose sides.

taleb skin

We say those politically correct things because we don’t have skin in the game. Read Nicholas Taleb’s latest on that subject. For that reason Taleb hates consultants, professors at high schools, some managers and executives, and by extension heads/consultants of innovation. They can say whatever they want, it has no consequences, at least not for their existence or that of the organisation they represent.

I recently heard Nektarios Liolios from Startupbootcamp venting his frustrations on stage, as all the innovation efforts of the last decade have apparently not changed much, or at least not shipped anything substantial. They even start bypassing heads of innovation and innovation teams in general, as they are more and more seen as barriers between customers and the business units. They want to solve real business problems.


Innovation Powerhouse Philips Eindhoven – Architect Janne van Berlo
A renovation respecting the building's patrimonial structure.

But I am afraid that a focus on real business problems won’t help. The only way to enable real change and lasting innovation is changing the structure of an organisation.

Structure is about more than reporting lines and P&L units. Structure is about the coherence of narrative, motives, and governance.

  • The narrative is about purpose, about patrimony (tacit knowledge), “just-do-it” kind of mantra, action oriented. A narrative is rallying the troops to play the game in a certain way, in a certain context. In war, the game is to win. In business, I would hope it’s about more than winning a finite game, and there is some sense of moral, aesthetical and spiritual advancement, an infinite game across generations.
  • Motives are about why we are doing this. There are primary/primal motives like prestige, promotion, reciprocity and tic-for-tac rewards/punishments. Once you add moral, aesthetical, and spiritual advancement, you are driven by second level motivations that have to do with care, tradition, craftsmanship, beauty, proportion, etc. In that sense, I believe that problem solving is a primal motivation. A more advanced intention of creating something great is a second level motivation. So the question should not be “what problem are you trying to solve?” but “what do you truly want to create?” If not, “solving problems” becomes a doctrine, just like “customer first” is a doctrine, or “FNAO”, or “Lean” or “Agile”. Applied across the board without thinking whether it makes sense. Being effective at doing the wrong thing.
  • Governance is about how you organise and coordinate high quality flows to play the game in context. This is what real leadership is about. In that sense, innovation is a discipline. And there is nothing wrong with discipline. All great things/products/artworks have been a result of discipline. It is about “getting things done”. Jan Chipchase has an awesome fieldbook and practice for revealing – usually in plain sight – real customer needs. He articulates these needs as “desires on getting things done”. “Getting things done” is something quite different than “solving a problem”.

Artists don’t solve problems. Neither do real innovators. Did the iPhone start with solving a problem? Did Amazon ? Did Facebook? I don’t think so. They started with what they wanted to be, and what they wanted to create. They started with structure, if anywhere at all. But not with the problem.

A customer is IMO not looking for a problem to be solved. A customer is looking for a superior experience.

With that perspective, one could ask “Can organisations change?” to make that happen?  Or “Can people change?” and the more critical question, “Why would people change?”


Sheep in boxes - drone photograph by Dean Lewins

The answer again is structure. Change the structure, and change will not be hard, it will be natural.

That’s why the whole idea of the dual approach (separation castle/sandbox, or core/innovation) is flawed. It is the wrong structure.

The preferred structure would probably more resemble a Khasbah or Souks, an open city plan with many innovation cells/areas with maximum transparency for all, so that everybody is inspired and motivated to join those projects too. And “brutal force” (see below).

It’s a paradox of course. Already in 2002, Storey & Salaman said in their Theories about Process of Innovation:

“paradox is at the heart of innovation. The pressing need for survival in the short term requires efficient exploration of current competencies and requires ‘coherence, coordination and stability’; whereas exploration / innovation requires the discovery and development of new competencies and this requires the loosening and replacement of these erstwhile virtues”

Problem-solving is like design thinking: it is fundamentally conservative and preserving the status quo.

“Rational-experimental problem solving begins with a presumption that the search for a solution starts by relying on existing data about the problem. Design thinking, in a slight divergence from the original model, suggests instead that the designer herself should generate information about the problem, by drawing on her experience of the people who will be affected by the design through the empathetic connection that she forges with them”

Remains the question: can it be done in a big or conservative organisation? Yes, of course. And it is done through what I would call the “brutal force attack”. It is the only thing I have seen working in a bigger organisation to actually SHIP innovation into the market and seeing it picked-up by a substantial part of the target customer base.

The brutal force attack requires two things:

  • A visionary that is able to articulate in a compelling way what he/she wants to create (and it does NOT start with the problem to be solved). Often this person is somewhat hidden in the fabric/structure of the organisation
  • A CxO, usually a CEO with metaphorical balls who will do whatever it takes to make the vision happen. With skin-in-the-game. Even against some part of his/her executive team and/or against part of the Board. His/her position may be at risk. He/she is committed like a pig. (For an omelet with bacon, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed)

You then build a team to make this happen. A squad of the best of best in your company. And the project lead has a direct red telephone line to the CEO to call in case somebody puts barriers or antibodies to make the vision happen. Usually, it suffices just to threaten to pick up the red phone…

It can be as simple as that: just do it. Just build and ship what you want to create.

If you want to have some romanticised innovation story to go with it, sure, go ahead and organise start-up competitions, create innovation labs, bootcamps, accelerate, incubate, and make a lot of noise and corporate communication about it. Just be aware they are a lot of fun, give a lot of exposure, prestige, and status, but are not needed.

That’s why my mantra is “To inspire other people to dream”. To dream and imagine what they truly want to create.

Like in this Nike promo:

Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.

Don’t buy the tyranny of the problem solver. Don’t settle to be a problem solver.

Create what you really want.





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Many of my readers know I was trained as an architect. Some of the rhythms, insights and passions of that profession continue to weave into my work and my sense making.

Just over the weekend, I completely randomly bumped into a very well done interview with star-architect Rem Koolhaas in Flanders’ business newspaper “De Tijd”. It’s in Dutch, but I found it so inspiring that I translated the juiciest chunks of that interview, with some personal context around that.

Rem Koolhaas (70) founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 1975. Besides its headquarters in Rotterdam, the agency has offices in New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, Doha and Dubai. He is also a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and wrote important publications on architecture, such as ‘Delirious New York’ (1978), “S, M, L, XL (1995) and ‘Content’ (2004). In 2000 he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the Nobel Prize for architecture.


Portrait Rem Koolhaas O.M.A. Office for Metropolitain Architecture shoot for Andy Warhols INTERVIEW, Russia © Ronald Tilleman all right reserved

The interview was made in the context of the opening of the Garage Museum in Gorki Park.

Garage Museum

It was Dasha Zhukova, the 34-jarige spouse of Russian multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich who approached Koolhaas to build “her” museum. Thanks to the deep pockets of her husband, she ensured herself this way of her own name and fame in the international jetset and art scene.

I really encourage you to watch this great promo-video of the museum. It is so inspiring when you start thinking about musea as educational spaces. Look at the wondering faces of the kids in that video. Think on how educational immersive experiences are becoming so key to our understanding and sense making. The Garage Museum is run by the Post-Soviet generation and that is so refreshing. And – surprise – it includes fragments by performance artist Marina Abramovic.

Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Active for over three decades, Abramović has been described as the “grandmother of performance art.” She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body.” (from Wikipedia).

It is a coincidence – or probably not – that performance, improvisation and new notions of identity cross my path again, and makes me reflect again of my work as event-creator evolving gradually into experience, romanticism and mystery.

But back to the interview. The journalist kicks off with an observation about the label of “star-architect” and how that is associated with neoliberal money-grubber who designs antisocial icons for the private super rich.

Rem Koolhaas reacts:

“Since the beginning of the 21st century, there is increasing attention to an ever smaller group of architects, of whom one expected to produce ever more spectacular buildings. Especially in high-rise commercial noticeable increasing pressure to make extravagant, rare designs. “

“Since the triumph of the market economy, the relationship between the public and the architect is cut. The takeover of the market economy in the architecture was harmful. The architect can no longer identify as someone who serves the public interest. Previously our inventions benefited humanity. Now that’s gone, like a tablecloth is suddenly pulled away.”

“While architecture previously revolved around the creation of community, to live together, the emphasis on selfish icons wipes that away. Cities can no longer exert as much influence as before, when they had enough money to build projects.”

It makes me think about the work of Christopher Alexander – my all time favourite – who protests against efficiency in architecture and the loss of appreciation for patterns, beauty, and the “quality without a name – QWAN”. See elsewhere on my blog, like here on “The battle for beauty”Like Alexander, Rem Koolhaas is at least as famous as a thinker and writer on architecture.

I think an architect must be a change expert, because you have to shape change. Therefore, you must know what is happening in the world. Before I became an architect, I was a journalist. And actually I’m still investigative journalist. I observe. My life is one big string of anthropological and sociological explorations. I’ve always had a particular attention to what is neglected. So I wrote my book about New York in the late seventies, when everyone had written off the city.”

He also confirms some of the insights that digitization of architecture – but I would expand that to any form of making great work – creates some fundamental flaws in creativity.

“I think some architects have a very simplistic look at the digitisation. For instance, they believe that 3D printing will provide free creativity. That is a myth. Therein lies a fundamental fallacy about architecture. Architecture is not at all about letting your imagination go. You must confront your imagination again and again with the request and desire of your customer.”

And then on privacy, something that becomes most tangible when you are at home, in your house, in your bedroom.


“It dawned on me last year when I was curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale. We have reconstructed the history of building elements, such as wall, floor, heating, and so on. We realized that all of them are on the verge of changing status. Take the thermostat. That used to be a thing that you checked. Now that gives your data to the energy supplier. Such a smart thermostat knows when you leave the house and when you come home again. Before you know it, sensors that follow you anywhere in your home surround you”

“We live in a world which is so addicted to comfort it as undermining our freedom. The dividing line between comfort and repression is thin. We submit ourselves to a huge monitoring system that records all of our movements in a building. We seem almost happy that we have no privacy anymore. For someone of my generation is that strange because we were still in the streets in the seventies to defend our privacy. “

lonely swimmer by Sterling67

Picture of Lone Swimmer by Sterling67

“I travel a lot, and I find that very inspiring. And above all gives me a great deal of privacy. Like swimming, though. I swim every day one kilometer, wherever in the world I am. “

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As from now, we offer you weekly updates related to our 5th edition of Innotribe at Sibos in Dubai from 16-19 Sep 2013.

As you probably know by now, we’ve designed our programme like a metro map. Just like the underground or subway, it’s up to you to decide which “track” to follow, depending on your expertise, interests, learning objectives, and availability.


In this week’s post, we’d like to walk you through the Value Track at Innotribe@Sibos 2013.



The Value track will explore different aspects of the great value discussion:

  • What is the future model of banking?
  • What is wealth beyond money?
  • Can everything be measured?
  • And are we even measuring the right things?
  • Can we valuate companies based on their intangible assets?
  • How does all this drive happiness and well-being?

Future of Money – Opening Plenary

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Monday 16 Sep 2013

Time: 09:30 – 10:30

In this session, we will identify how the current model is being disrupted and how the impact on cost and revenues. We will co-create the corporate banking business model of the future, using the Business Model Canvas methodology of Alex Osterwalder.

Innotribe co-founder Mariela Atanassova (Mela) recently posted a great article on this subject on the American Banker blog “BankThink” as part of their series “The Future Model of Banking”.

To guide us, we have invited six awesome speakers, each highlighting one dimension of disruption of the existing corporate to banking model:

  • Scott Bales, Chief Mobile Officer, Moven will focus on Social and Mobile;
  • Dave Gray, Author, The Connected Company will focus on organizational change and how his principles lead to “The Connected Bank”;
  • Hank Uberoi, CEO, Earthport and Dan Marovitz, Founder & CEO, Buzzumi and previously Head of Product Management, Global Transaction Banking at Deutsche Bank will articulate what has changed in infrastructure;
  • Patrick Murck, General Counsel, Bitcoin Foundation will ignite us on transparency and transaction costs;
  • We are in discussions with a major bank, which has experimented with hybrid business models in the Corporate to Banking space.

Two host moderators will guide you through this exercise and will ensure a deep interaction between audience and speakers in an exciting TV Studio type format. One moderator (Udayan Goyal, Partner and Co-Founder of the Anthemis Group) will work the stage; the other moderator (Chris Skinner, Chairman of The Financial Services Club) will work the audience.

Design Thinking

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Monday 16 Sep 2013

Time: 11:00 – 12:15

This is a “Toolkit” session: an immersive learning experience to help you internalize the basic principles of design thinking with hands-on practical activities. We will practice process step by step the different stages of design-full thinking and apply them to examples from the financial industry:

  • Human observation, particularly using extreme users to inspire idea
  • Looking at a larger context – analogies from other fields; examine interaction touch points
  • Multidisciplinary teams
  • Experimentation, prototyping
  • Engaging others in the process to build enthusiasm for your idea

Speakers: We have invited two world-class experts to guide you through this process:

  • Vince Voron recently joined Dolby Labs as their VP, Executive Creative Director. He has more than 20 years of marketing design experience from two of the world’s most iconic brands: Apple and Coca-Cola. At Apple, he developed and led the human factors and color teams responsible for iMacs, PowerBooks, iPods and the iPhone. As head of Industrial Design at Coca-Cola, he led the form and user interface design for the Coca-Cola Freestyle platform.
  • James Moed is the leader of IDEO’s work in financial service design across Europe. In that role he advises clients and design teams, combining observations of human behaviour with inspiration from other services, new business models, and emerging technologies.

Investment Management 2.0

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Monday 16 Sep 2013

Time: 12:30 – 13:30

In the financial industry “shareholder value” and “profit maximization” are still very much the main criteria for investment. Nevertheless, new investment trends are emerging as a result of global changes and new ways of thinking,.  Investors are starting to look for criteria beyond maximizing profit, shareholder value and pure financial return – many of which are based on ‘intangible assets’.

To put all this in context, we strongly recommend Otto Scharmer’s latest book “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies” (Amazon Associates Link).


This session is designed to be highly interactive, applying the design thinking methodology to investment management.  The session is designed as a political campaign debate, where two protagonists will prompt the discussion through at times provocative statements and trying to convince the audience of their deep insights.

During this debate, we will look into following aspects:

  • Definitions of intangible assets, how to account for them and how to invest in them.
  • What role do financial markets play/should play, and their future “design principles”
  • We will paint a broader evolutionary context and the role of technology in all this;
  • Leading into transparency, self-empowerment and permissive organizations

Each of the protagonists will then detail their personal actions for change.


  • Mary Adams, Founder of Smarter Companies, expert in accounting for intangible assets
  • Stephen Richards, Principal of Ability Capital Solutions, who is launching a Pension Investment Fund, based on crowdsourced recommendations for investment by the pension beneficiaries.

Accounting for Intangible Assets

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Thursday 19 Sep 2013

Time: 11:00 – 12:00

Is it possible to make investment decisions based on intangible assets? In this session, you will learn that the financials used as a measuring stick are being generated out of a new kind of factory, a new kind of infrastructure. Most of investment and asset managers understand this intuitively.

We will give you practical hands-on exercises to empower you with a vocabulary and a framework that helps you change what you do and how you evaluate companies.


  • Mary Adams, Founder of Smarter Companies, expert in accounting for intangible assets

Beyond GDP – What is real wealth?

Location: Innotribe Space

Day: Thursday 19 Sep 2013

Time: 12:30 – 14:00

Happiness Indicators like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, the OECD’s Better Life Index, and the UK’s Happy Planet Index are already helping the world define well-being and wealth beyond money. The H(app)athon Project www.happathon.com wants to go one step further by “hacking happiness”, and shifting how the world’s view of value can move beyond the lens of GDP.

Innotribe has partnered with The H(app)athon Project to co-deliver this customized,  super-interactive, not-to-be-missed game experience, where several imaginary countries based on new economies will work together to increase their collective progress. We have gone full-blown for the design of this session, with light and sound-scapes to immerse you 100% in this real live experiment, where you are the subject of research 😉

The results of this experiment will be fed into the development of the Happathon mobile app that will be launched in March 2014.


  • John Havens, Founder, The Happathon Project.

Closing Plenary Innotribe: “Around the campfire”

Right after the Happathon session – at 14:30pm – we will all join the Closing Plenary Innotribe: “Around the campfire”, where we will share the lessons, tools and techniques learned during the week. We are very proud to confirm our two tribal wise men:

  • JP Rangaswami (Chief Scientist of Salesforce.com and direct report of Marc Benioff) and;
  • Andrew Davis (Global Head of e-Commerce Strategy and Innovation, HSBC).

More information about the Innotribe@Sibos 2013 programme can be found in our programme Brochure (PDF flyer), on Sibos.com and of course Innotribe.com

By @petervan from the Innotribe Team

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