mobility & design

Cloud Commuting

A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem  The signs on the small van describe the services it supports: Taxi; Pick-up; Delivery; Assistance; Vendor; Security; Rental. Seven functions, one vehicle. As imagined in a project in Belgium called Mobilotoop the van, when […]

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Caloryville: The Two-Wheeled City

In China, ‘battery-bikes’ are outselling cars by four-to-one. Pedelec sales are soaring in Europe, too.  Is this the start of system-wide phase-shift in transportation? At a workshop in Delhi last year, during the UnBox Festival, I posed the following question to a group of 20  design, transport, and city development professionals: What new products, services or […]

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Speed? What Speed? Prisoners of Speed, by Ivan Illich (Part 3 of 3)

In 1996, Ivan Illich (above) agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam on the theme of  ‘speed’. The philosopher-educator surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. Their contributions are as  fresh today as when we heard them in Amsterdam – so we are running […]

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Speed? What Speed? The Falcon, by Sebastian Trapp (Part 1 of 3)

Reflecting on the ways that swallows move about the earth reminded me of the time, in 1996, when Ivan Illich agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam. Our theme that year was ‘speed’. The philosopher surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. […]

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Green Tourism: Why It Failed And How It Can Succeed


Packaged mass tours account for 80 percent of journeys to so-called developing countries, but destination regions receive five percent or less of the amount paid by the traveller. For local people on the ground, the injustice is absurd: if I were to pay e1,200 for a week long trek in Morocco’s Atlas mountains, just e50 […]

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Cycle Commerce As An Ecosystem

(Illustration: Sameer Kulavoor Ghoda Bicycle Project) At a workshop in Delhi a few weeks back, during the UnBox Festival, Arjun Mehta and myself posed the following question to a group of 20 professionals from diverse backgrounds: What new products, services or ingredients are needed to help a cycle commerce ecosystem flourish in India’s cities, towns and […]

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Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City

[The chart above is from the online catalogue of cargo bikes at Nutzrad] India’s many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation, and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs. As an ecosystem, they’re also part of the metabolism that makes a city smart. That said, cycle commerce […]

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Virtual Boring Agent

I’ve seen this Virtual Boarding Agent a couple of times now at Orly Airport in Paris. A It’s a life-sized, life-like, two dimensional human figure that talks pleasantly about liquids and gels. It’s spooky, clever, and very well executed – and most people seem to ignore it after a first casual glance. I therefore feel […]

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A smooth journey

Two images have preoccupied me in recent days. The first one [below] was taken in a lounge at Paris airport. I remember being struck by the intense design effort that had been made to create a controlled and insulated environment. On the tv screen were images of the popular revolt that is unfolding, bloodily, in […]

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