Enough Stuff!

I was recently asked to speak at an event at the ICA called ‘Objects of Desire’. The idea was that a small group of people would speak for a few minutes about an object that inspired them. It was a great and simple format however one that I felt compelled to subvert. So rather than talking about an object per se, I spoke about how i take my inspiration from waves; more specifically about waves in music, physics and in networks of people. The video of my talk is available below:

Let me expand a little. I’ve never been a big fan of owning ‘stuff’. I prefer to live and travel light. I’d much prefer to have access to things I want, when I want them, rather than owning stuff which is why I love services like Streetcar (the pay as you go car) and Spotify (allows access, not ownership, of tonnes of music). And I get the feeling I’m increasingly not alone. Certainly in places like London where property is very expensive, and space is a real luxury, I have to think very carefully about bringing more stuff into my live/house.

And yet most businesses and organisations I speak to are overly dominated by product/object based thinking; a legacy of the 20th Century rise of mass industrialised business models pioneered by Henry Ford et al. Nothing wrong with that up to a point however it is often reported that the UK economy now consists of at least 80% service companies however we have a very limited understanding of how they operate and how they innovate. The fact remains that the most interesting and valuable stuff now happens between people and between objects, so our language, our thinking, and our businesses need to catch up fast.

I am prepared to pay for services that are useful, exciting, simple, invisible, intuitive and brilliant. How about you?


  1. Thanks – a good and refreshing post. But we need to crack not just the individual fixation with ‘stuff’ (which is still alive and well in many quarters) but also governments’ stuff-centric worldview. If economic progress is measured only by growth (that’s more stuff, whether it be goods-stuff or services-stuff) the incentive to judge the quality of life by production and consumption remains.
    And we need to shed the ‘time is money’ mentality too – some thoughts on that here: http://livingwithrats.blogspot.com/2009/08/time-is-money-but-it-doesnt-have-to-be.html

Post a comment

Please complete this simple maths question to help us fight spam *