WIRED 2014: Ron Arad, Rules of Innovation

Jaiye Elias, Senior New Business Manager, lets us know her thoughts on the Ron Arad presentation at the 2014 WIRED conference.

I was lucky enough to go to day one of the annual WIRED conference in 2012. Admittedly, I knew very little about what WIRED was at the time and didn’t really know what to expect from the event. I was completely blown away by the amazing speakers that featured at the conference and just how inspirational the event really was. The agenda for this year’s event didn’t look like it would disappoint either so I joined up to 600 eager delegates at Tobacco Dock for two full days of stunning creativity and ‘tomorrow today’ examples of innovation.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter will notice that I piped up rather excitedly throughout the event until my battery died but this is one of the talks that really stood out for me this year:

Ron Arad, Rules of Innovation

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Ron arrived in his customary hat looking a bit like the lovable Paddington Bear and got comfortable on stage. For those of you not familiar with this award winning industrial designer and architect, he’s the guy that invented the iPad before the iPad about 11 years ago.

His device was called Vu. This blue person here is clutching it sat at a red table whilst savoring a coffee.

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Unfortunately, he showed his ‘connected tablet device that could be used all over the house’ to LG but they didn’t understand what it was. Vu was way before its time. Years later the head of design at LG said to Ron when he asked them why they didn’t go for his idea, ” We were stupid. You showed us the future and we just didn’t see it”.

Ron has created lots of amazing products, buildings and art pieces that challenge the status quo. He was WIRED’s October cover star

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For me, his standout rules of innovation are; not playing by the rules and asking ‘WHATS & IFS’. Admittedly he says that he’s just not very good at playing by the rules. So I’m guessing that explains why he created this ping pong table after he lost 21-4 to a British Ping Pong champion.

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He asked himself, ‘WHAT IF the ping pong table wasn’t flat? Then it would really slow the game down’, he thought. The rounded middle of the table means that he plays extremely well on his own table. In fact, once you play on his table, you never want to play on another table, he boasted.

It was asking ‘WHAT IF we make a bike without wheels’ that resulted in the design and manufacture without a prototype of this amazing bike for Elton John’s Aids Fund.

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Amazingly, his wheel-less bike worked. Check it out here on YouTube.

A lot of Ron’s great work is about satisfying curiosity and avoiding boredom. I got the feeling that when he is bored he turns into a bit of a handful like me. Being disruptive and creating without rules is how he feels alive. His talk made me think about how we will often create within the constraints of feeling that there is some unwritten rule book that we have to conform to. If you or I asked ourselves ‘WHATS and IFS’ to some seemingly impossible ideas would we be brave enough to just do them anyway?

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