Contemporary minimalism owes its prominence to Ross Lovegrove, the visionary force behind the so-called DNA formula: Design, Nature, Art. It’s difficult to write about someone so intricately engrained in our material and intellectual culture. The rules of organic design call for omission of anything extraneous to pure functionality. What is there to know about a person, beyond the résumé?!
Preparing to spend a morning with Lovegrove talking about life and work, I browsed the archives. From solar concept cars to first-class airline cabins, his roster of collaborators, clients and exhibitors reads like a textbook of 20th-century design history: Herman Miller, Renault, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Guggenheim, Pompidou… His pieces are part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, the Design Museum in London and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, near Basel, Switzerland, the capital of the art industry. His influence is evident in the evolution of consumers’ desire to embrace Apple, IKEA and other purveyors of “organic essentialism” wherein mass and materials are reduced to a minimum in creating forms.
“What does he think of himself?” I wondered.
Lovegrove calls himself “an evolutionary designer who appeals to the collective consciousness”. Wales-born and London-based, he is an educator on a global mission to connect the power of nature with new materials and emerging technologies and translate them into utilitarian design. Complexity-driven, simplicity-oriented. It’s a spiritual quest. The idea of instinct plays a crucial role in decoding the Lovegrove ethos: “To survive way back during the Stone Age, humans had to rely on instinct and nature. Everybody had to craft something with their hands. Everyone had skills and had to participate. We lived in a fully organic world. Now we are entering the world of technology, and on the one hand, it’s a wonderful thing. But moving into urban conditions means losing the instincts we previously had. That detachment is one of the biggest problems – not knowing where anything comes from.”
Image Courtasy Ross Lovegrove PR