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Good Ideas Salon, Tokyo

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 00:00:00 -0700

To discuss ‘pure living' as a concept, Nissan and trends company PSFK hosted the Good Ideas Salon in Tokyo on 20 October 2009; a moderated conversation between International and local guests explored how pure living manifests itself in design, technology, urban living and transportation.

Panelist Marc Alt, founder of Marc Alt + Partners, a strategic agency dedicated to sustainability and social innovation, began the Salon discussion stating that, "Companies and individuals need to understand what it means to be green in their daily lifestyle choices. Sustainability is not just about creating energy-efficient resources, but being more efficient in how we use these resources. Rather than consuming our way out of a problem, it's about using products and services in more efficient ways."

Another guest panelist from the US, Peter Rojas, a leading commentator on electronics and technology, then discussed how important sharing is in the sustainability debate. To highlight how vital it is to share resources, he cited that an electrical drill is used for only an average of two minutes over its entire lifespan, and how ridiculous it is that almost every household in the US has one.

Rojas also spoke about Zip Car, the leading car share company that's trying to make car sharing easier, faster and better. Alt added that as populations become more urban, the sustainability debate needs to be rooted in an urban context. "The future is about re-contextualizing the urban space," he emphatically stated.

Tokyo-based Mark Dytham, co-founder of Klein Dytham Architecture, highlighted how Japan is the country that does the most with less - citing the bento box as a perfect example. The architect and Pecha Kucha Night founder said, "Doing more with less - that's pure living to me. Less materials, used wisely and then reused."

As the evening progressed, Rojas put forward for debate that pure living should be thought of from a software perspective, "As applications are frictionless and they're pure profit," he said. "Technology has caught up so you don't have to upgrade every year. You can run Windows XP on a six-year-old PC. It's more important how upgradeable and reconfigurable the device is itself. It's about having a positive ongoing relationship with the company - not being hit up for a new device every 18 months."

Changing tack, Rojas then brought up how friends and relationships are now data streams and how what we need is, "smart power grids of data on our own energy consumption." Alt concurred saying, "We need data streams in real time to modify our behavior in real time." This feedback loop was seen as essential to help people decipher their daily choices and understand the consequences of their decisions.

Francois Bancon, General Manager, Product & Marketing of Zero Emission for Nissan took the stage and said that Nissan doesn't have an answer for everything, but rather pure living is about sharing questions. "We know for sure we have to talk. Mobility is a small part of the question and we need to collaborate with different people and corporations to make this happen."

This is the first time the automotive industry has had to talk to utility companies, owners of wind farms, governments, private companies and public citizens as society redefines what it means to own a car. Alt wound down the Salon by explaining how the automotive industry doesn't need incremental efficiency, but rather it needs to innovate from rethinking the system. "It's a system design problem. The car is now just another consumer electronic gadget."

Bancon closed the Salon by saying, "Nissan is redefining our relationship to the world - not technology. It's about how we want to be in relationship with others." And that parting thought addresses what companies need to do next. Pure living shouldn't be thought of as a personal lifestyle choice but rather a systems approach, and smart companies will be those who change the paradigm on how we view the system.

By Kristina Dryza