Conversations in Design: A World Without Oil

The Interior Design Show’s inaugural Conversations in Design launches on January 21, 2010 at the Design Exchange in Toronto, where leading designers from around the globe are invited to imagine A World Without Oil at an all-day symposium. They will share their practical experiences in sustainable design, and dare to dream of a society that is no longer dependent on oil. The symposium will provide critical insight to new and alternative practices, materials, technologies and products. It will challenge its audience to think outside the box, and ultimately illuminate and inspire on the provocative subject of A World Without Oil.


Breakfast kicks off the event at 8:30am, followed by opening remarks at 9:00am. The schedule of speakers is as follows:


Session 1

Mirko Zardini: Sorry, Out of Gas

9:15am – 10:15am

Mirko Zardini is the Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), in Montreal, a post which he has occupied since 2005. Mirko’s writings and design projects engage the transformation of contemporary architecture and its relationship with the city and landscape. Mirko will open the symposium by looking at the 1973 oil crisis as a period, which revealed a rich diversity of possible design responses to energy scarcity.


Session 2

Fritz Haeg: Welcoming the Wild

10:15am – 10:45am

Fritz Haeg is an architect, artist and landscape designer based in Los Angeles who transforms domestic landscapes into productive, connecting spaces for urban food production. He will discuss the possibilities for integrating wild elements back into our cities, as evidenced in his ongoing series of projects, including the front yard gardens of Edible Estates, and the urban wildlife homes of Animal Estates. Showing images of the eight regional prototype gardens planted so far, and the six city editions of animal homes, Fritz will question how we live in the cities, neighbourhoods, and homes that we inherit from previous generations. Collectively, the projects serve as modest models, prototypes, and strategies that anyone can pick up and make their own, customized for their location and tastes. Fritz is author of Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn and has produced projects and work for the Tate Modern, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Mass MoCa.


Coffee Break

10:45am – 11:00am


Session 3

Tord Boontje and Enrico Bressan: Design With Conscience

11:00am – 11:30am

Dutch-born and currently residing in France, industrial designer Tord Boontje is credited for renewing romanticism and ornament in product design. He will have a conversation with architect engineer Enrico Bressan, co-founder of the innovative housewares company Artecnica, about global sustainable sourcing and collaboration with artisans to transform new and recycled materials into concrete objects. Tord and Enrico’s vision to “design with conscience” reflects their significant endeavour to infuse social and environmental responsibility into design. Nelda Rodger, editor-in-chief of Azure, will moderate the session.


Session 4

Sheila Kennedy: After Effects – Visionary Design Now

11:30am – 12:00pm

Sheila Kennedy is a principal of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd. (KVA) and a Professor of the Practice of Architecture at MIT. Designated as one of Fast Company’s Masters of Design, Sheila is described as an “insightful and original thinker who is designing new ways of working, innovating and leading.” Winner of the 2009 Energy Globe Award and Tech Museum Laureate Award (for high-impact innovators who are benefiting humanity), she will present KVA’s groundbreaking work on the design of new materials that are transforming the use, form and experience of clean energy – from mobile energy-harvesting textiles for the developing world to smart zero-energy housing for the international IBA in Hamburg, along with the SOFT CITIES project in Portugal.


Session 5

Bruce Mau: Bruce Mau’s World Without Oil

12:00pm – 12:30pm

In his talk, visionary and innovator designer Bruce Mau shares his optimism by painting a picture with ideas of a future civilization that does not rely on oil, but instead thrives on alternative energy sources. His look into a flourishing 21st century explores exciting developments in urban planning, social philanthropy, material science, radical economics, architecture, and social networking to demonstrate that change in energy is within reach.


Lunch on Site

12:30pm –1:30pm


Session 6

Thomas Auer: Burned Out – What’s Next

1:30pm – 2:00pm

Trained as a process engineer, Thomas Auer is a managing director of Transsolar, a leading climate-engineering firm based in Stuttgart, Munich and New York. He has collaborated with KPMB, Behnisch Architekten, Greg Lynn and others in designing buildings and urban developments with high comfort and low impact. Thomas Auer will discuss how Transsolar develops and validates innovative climate and energy concepts through the recognition of all aspects and stages of design that influence environmental conditions. He will show that the application of a future “world without oil” in design can provide better environments.


Session 7

Ted Howes: The Energy Experience

2:00pm – 2:30pm

Ted Howes is IDEO’s Energy Domain Global Lead. IDEO, located in Palo Alto, is a global design consultancy, ranked by Fast Company as one of the top ten most innovative companies of 2009. The world of energy is in flux – how we generate, transmit, distribute, store, use and share energy is changing. With these shifts come new relationships and new ways for people to connect around energy. Ted will argue that if we are to change how we use energy as well as what we use for energy, then we need to redesign energy to make it experiential, tangible and connective. He will discuss how IDEO integrates and introduces sustainability to its corporate clients, and will investigate the eco-issues designers face everyday to reveal building blocks for sustainable design.


Session 8

Todd Wood: Paradox Now

2:30pm – 3:00pm

Todd Wood is the Vice President of Industrial Design at Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry wireless devices, systems and services. He has prim
ary responsibility for the look and feel of BlackBerry branded products. Todd will discuss some of the challenges and paradoxes that he, as a designer, faces when trying to integrate sustainability into practice.


Coffee Break

3:00pm – 3:15pm


Session 9

Karim Rashid and Ian Connacher: Synthetics vs. Bioplastics in the Design Landscape

3:15pm – 4:15pm

Superstar designer Karim Rashid is often dubbed “Plastic Man” because he has styled so many products in so many types of plastics. Karim will give a candid and provocative talk about the use of plastic in his practice as well as evaluate synthetic and organic plastic in commercial design. Filmmaker Ian Connacher, who recently released the controversial documentary Addicted to Plastic, will have a conversation with Karim on the issues of plastic recycling, toxicity and biodegradability.


Session 10

Dr. Dayna Baumeister: Beyond Heat, Beat and Treat – Biomimicry in Design

4:15pm – 4:45pm

Biomimicry is a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies that are well-adapted to life on earth long into the future. Biomimics around the world are learning to grow food like a prairie, harness energy like a leaf, create colour like a peacock, find cures like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a redwood forest. Bio-inspired designs are elegant, functional and, not surprisingly, sustainable as well. After all, our models are organisms that manufacture without “heat, beat and treat” methods, and ecosystems that run on sunlight and feedback, creating opportunities rather than waste. Dr. Dayna Baumeister, co-founder of the Biomimicry Guild, will describe what’s new in the field, describe deep patterns of biological design, and engage us in a discussion of what’s possible when we invite nature to the design table.



4:45pm – 6:00pm


For more information about A World Without Oil, please visit