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A@W Newsletter

Architects Talking Architecture: Ross Lovegrove

30 November 2023

Architect and writer Enrico Leonardo Fagone discusses the creative process with industrial designer Ross Lovegrove.


Welsh-born Ross Lovegrove is one of the world’s most acclaimed and influential designers. He is best known for harnessing the latest technology to create futuristic, organic forms. First studying at what was then Manchester Polytechnic in 1980, he went on to gain a Masters in Design from the Royal College of Art in 1983.

Since then he began working for design studio Frog; on technology projects for companies such as Sony and Apple. He subsequently moved to Paris as a consultant at furniture firm Knoll International, where he created Alessandri, a highly successful office system. Still in Paris, he worked together with Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck at the Atelier de Nîmes in 1984, working on brands such as Cacharel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Du Pont before returning to London in 1986. His product back catalogue ranges from computers and bicycles and from aircraft seats to lighting with his client list boasting well-known names from Airbus Industries to Issey Miyake and Artemide to Japan Airlines.

Lovegrove is the winner of numerous international awards with many of his designs part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Vitra Design Museum in Basel and the Design Museum, London.

In the latest of a series of interviews with contemporary designers, Architect@Work gets to know their inspiration and vision in order to get an indication of the direction the industry is heading in. 


ELF: What does the creative experience mean to you in terms of the relationship between nature and advanced technologies so important in your research?

RL: The closer we get to the biological or non-mechanical principles of evolution; the more mankind will exist in harmony with our surroundings. It’s about identifying how different disciplines such as architecture can converge while respecting nature so that we can create interesting and beautiful things. 


Alpine Capsule, Moritz Graffonara, Alta Badia - Italy, 2010. 


Ilabo Shoes, United Nude, 2015.


ELF: Can you explain the principles that guide your projects: the methodology and ethics?

RL: The projects I am engaged in, by definition, are driven by ways of living and working and, as far as possible, pushing the limits of human ingenuity, whatever the scale or technology is needed to do that. This also means taking advantage of the time we live and every form of technological and material innovation. As we enter perhaps the most challenging phase in human history, I think more than ever we must be bold in the way we conceive, produce, and innovate so that we have an ecologically integrated future.


Go Chair, Bernhardt Design, 1998-2001.


ELF: Throughout your projects you have always emphasized design’s role in providing a better life for everyone. What advice would you give to younger generations of architects and designers looking to address the issues of emerging technology as well as saving the planet?

RL: Thank you for recognising this element of my work first of all, it’s something I hold dear. In my TED Talks I have always talked about the importance of instinct and awareness, about knowing why something should exist. I believe the late Steve Jobs left us an important lesson in terms of designers pushing through what might seem like impossible barriers of understanding towards a freer way of thinking. Using these principles, I was able to merge analogue and digital technologies and look at how nature and AI can work together.


SuperBiomorphic Yacht, 2023.


In my TED Global Oxford talk entitled Genesis which I gave ten years ago, I talked about the need to create an algorithm capable of collecting all known data about a particular product, such as a camera, and all optical imaging devices, to then sequence them, so as to arrive at an optimised solution in the most intelligent way that considered issues such as the environment, logistics, availability of resources and energy consumption. Biodiversity must be considered when designing products from a car to smartphone.


DNA Staircase, 2001-2005.


Solar Tree, Artemide, 2008.


Today I am completely immersed in the field of generative artificial intelligence, using my design principles, my archive, and the direction my work is taking I previously described. It’s like our imagination is expanding in a natural way, almost like a ‘quantum’ leap. This expansion is happening in how we think and feel bringing us towards a new era called the ‘Alocene’. This is a place where human and artificial intelligence will converge, forming a whole new way of living and building a whole new world.


© all pictures: Ross Lovegrove

 Originally written by Enrico Leonardo Fagone




Architects Talking Architecture: Ross Lovegrove
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