Three of the talks are now available to watch online.
Ruth Morrow, is professor of Architecture at QUB [I posted last year about her inaugural lecture] and co-founder of Tactility Factory a spinout company that combines concrete with textiles to create softer surfaces. While a lot of education is about transmitting knowledge, she believes that architecture is transformative, developing the design process in people, and empowering students to change places and lives.
Ruth talked about “making mad ideas sane”, reckoning that if you’ve faced difficult problems before, then you can approach new madcap schemes with a greater bravery and chance of success. She’s a believer that “critique is a sister of creativity”, of mixing contrasting materials and styles (“vinegar and chips” / linen and concrete), and of encouraging cross-fertilisation of thinking.
Her final challenge to TEDxBelfast attendees (and anyone who watches the talks online afterwards) was to help develop a “Designed and Well Made in NI” branding that would expose products that are not just quality crafted but also have a strategic relevance and opportunistic fit in the market place, communicating value.
I spoke to Ruth afterwards ...
Fundamentally Mark Dowds challenged why so many people continue to feel so unhappy and dissatisfied at work. Remarking that non-democratic countries are amongst the most corrupt, he suggested this could apply to companies and organisations too.
His talk dovetailed well with an earlier one from Ken Thompson. Instead of employees continuing to arrive at work with long faces, he suggested that more democratic workplaces would offer greater employee satisfaction, productivity and results for their employers. He cited examples where senior managers had become facilitators, where HR policies had been thrown out the window, and where workplace democracy had led to sustainable growth.
I talked to Mark afterwards too ...
Paul Moore heads up the University of Ulster’s School of Creative Arts at Magee and holds a personal chair in Creative Technology. In his talk he rubbished the kind of city creative quarters and notions of a creative class espoused by academics like Richard Florida. As well as saying “the creative class is a con-trick”, he spoke out against “symbolic creativity”.
Instead of believing in an creative elite, Paul explained his passion for the “bottom-up” creativity of ordinary people. He used local examples to demonstrate NI creativity, and pointed out the (not always originally foreseen) long tail of their work.
The rest of the TEDxBelfast talks will appear online in a few days time.