Tag Archives: TED Talk

China’s pollution problem, everyone’s problem: Peggy Liu at TED2014

Our world is constantly changing, and it is bold ideas that push this forward. The speakers in session 3 of the TED2014 conference were all big thinkers who are working to reshape the ways we see, think about, and interact with the world.

One of the lead sustainability activists in China, Peggy Liu is a key player in the race for green growth worldwide, and shared her vision of climate change and China’s ongoing battle against pollution.  Peggy emphasizes the point that “pollution crosses boarders”; therefore, “China’s problem is everyone’s problem.” In her talk, Peggy refers to the China’s pollution crisis as an “airpocalypse.”

Today, China is urbanizing at an astonishing rate, and it is expected that an estimated 350 million people who live in China’s rural areas will move into cities over the next 20 years. Peggy points out, “in many ways, this is a great thing, offering opportunities for Chinese children to go to school nearby and for parents to find employment,” but these changes will put unprecedented pressure on our Earth’s limited natural resources.


The decisions China makes in the next few years will determine if China will be ecologically sustainable or a disaster, but Liu focuses on six advantages that she believes will enable China to make small changes that add up quickly due to the size of China’s population:

  1. China has centralized control.
  2. China has just a few key decision makers.
  3. China is willing to learn from others.
  4. China is willing to experiment.
  5. China is willing to change.
  6. China is highly motivated.

“It only takes a few passionate individuals to make transformative change,” Liu says, and through Shaw’s commitment to sustainability and our efforts to creating a better future for our customers, our associates and our communities, we are certainly contributing to this positive change in China.

As part of the ongoing process to make Shaw Contract Group a brand across the globe, we opened our first manufacturing facility in China last September. In keeping with our dedication to sustainable buildings, the Nantong facility is LEED certified and the first manufacturing facility to create Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM products.

TED2014 happened in Vancouver and Whistler, BC, Canada, March 17-21, 2014. Designer David Rockwell relied on Shaw Hospitality Group for the carpet for the design. On the floor is “Crease” from the Layered Luxe collection, which was designed in collaboration with Rockwell himself.

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How the Media Revolution is Affecting the Design Industry

“We don’t need the Greeks to tell us about architecture, we can tell each other about architecture,” says Marc Kushner, co-founder of Architizer.  “Buildings don’t just reflect our society, they shape our society.”

Kushner is referencing the innovations in technology that the 21st century has to offer. Everything we do these days is accessible, digital. This changes the way the architecture and design industry operates. Where once, you only had access to buildings to which you could walk, people can now see designs thousands of miles away with a click of a mouse or a scroll of an Instagram feed.  “We are living on the verge of the greatest revolution in architecture since the invention of steel,” Kushner says. “It’s a media revolution.”

This evolution into a revolution is said to have begun in 1997, when architect Frank Gehry designed a little building called the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. Since then, public attraction to shocking designs has been growing.


“Tourism in Bilbao increased by 25,000 percent after this building was completed … [This was] a rare moment when critics, academics and general public were completely united,” says Kushner.

In the age of the smartphone, Kushner says, “The building becomes disembodied from the site … The speed of communication has finally caught up to the speed of architecture.”

That idea came to life for Kushner when his firm started to plan a new design to replace a building that had burned down on Fire Island in New York. “We proposed a building that was audacious, that was different,” he says, “something the community had never seen before.” As plans moved forward, his client and his co-designers were apprehensive, all worried the building would be rejected by the community. “So we created a series of photorealistic renderings,” Kushner says, “and we put them on Facebook, and we put them onto Instagram … so when it was built, and the rendering looked exactly like the finished product, it was already a part of the community.”

Fire Island Pavillion

The firm’s rendering (top) and the finished product (below) of the Fire Island Pavillion

Instagram photos and Facebook comments gave the public ownership of the building. In the age of renderings and future visualizations, clients – and communities, in Kushner’s case – are able to see designs weeks, months and maybe even years before they come to life. In the present day mentality of “I-need-this-right-now,” this technology is very important to the design industry.

Kushner’s TED Talk took place in the Vancouver Convention Center. Designer David Rockwell relied on Shaw Hospitality Group for the carpet for the design.  On the floor is “Crease” from the Layered Luxe Collection, which was designed in collaboration with Rockwell himself.

Images: Wikipedia, ArchDaly

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David Rockwell Drew on Personal TedTalk Experience to Design the Next Chapter Theater for TED2014

TED celebrated its 30th anniversary by moving the annual TED Conference from Long Beach to a temporary theater installed within the Vancouver Convention Center.  Designed by David Rockwell of The Rockwell Group, The Next Chapter Theater is a portable 1,200-seat theater that was designed to enhance the speaker and audience experience, and will be reinstalled in the years ahead.

“I have spoken [at TED] and have had that experience of: your talk is influenced by how you feel in the room. The environment affects how the talk evolves,” says Rockwell.

David Rockwell’s talk at TED2002 on the memorial at Ground Zero influenced his design of The Next Chapter Theater.

The bowl of the theater is steeply raked to ensure that in a room of 1,200, the farthest distance from the speaker is a mere 80 feet, helping the speaker better see and feel the audience’s reactions and allowing audience members to immerse themselves more deeply in the talks.  By comparison, Hollywood’s Ford Amphitheater, which is lauded for its intimacy, has a 96-foot distance from the farthest seat to the stage.

“TED is a combination of theater and festival,” says Rockwell, “…we’re creating from scratch a theater designed around a talk. [It’s] like going back to the roots of theater. No one’s done a theater solely based on a talk.”

The intimate TED2014 theater was built in just under a week and was constructed from 600 modular boxes and flooring and furniture donations from Shaw Hospitality Group and Steelcase.  The carpet is from Shaw Hospitality Group’s Layered Luxe collection, which was also designed in collaboration from Rockwell.

Read more about the construction of the TED2014 Next Chapter Theater here.

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