by Ella Navarro, photos by Justas Čekauskas, TEDxAarhus
After a rainy Friday, finally announcing that the summer was over, the autumn sun peeked for TEDx Aarhus on Saturday. More than 800 people showed up for the magnificent event. Some early risers were queuing at the entrance of Tivoli Friheden from 11:00 to catch the best seats, with the doors officially opening at midday. The intrigue was vibrating in the air: what was going to happen inside?
As we sat in the auditorium, the lights suddenly went off. Darkness. Silence. Then: noises, smoke, shimmering lights. It felt like being in a rocket, about to take off to the moon. Perfect to get us in the mood for the theme: To the moon and back. And then the journey began.
A charismatic welcome
The ceremony started with an introduction by Jacob Bundsgaard, the Mayor of Aarhus, who highlighted the importance of Aarhus as a city for students, and how they want it to be a city that offers ideas to the world.
“Our main resource is the people. Students are the DNA, the essence of Aarhus, and that is why TEDx fits so well here,” he contended.
The first speaker of the afternoon was Philip Morley – Creative Director at Key Message Expert – who broke the ice by mixing up his ideas with some great jokes. This funny guy taught us to see things in a different way; “Boring things can make extraordinary things.” He provoked the audience to stop for a moment in this interconnected world that we live in and take a look at the details of things. That is how we can appreciate the value of something.
The second speaker was Mikal Hallstrup – Founder and Global CEO of Designit – who inspired us with his talk about designing the world in a way shaped by humans. How can we improve something that we are doing in a more productive way, for a more efficient user experience?
“It’s time to put people back at the centre and do human-shaped stuff,” he said.
Lamp packages that have to be redesigned because they are too difficult to open, as well as long airport security lines, are examples of processes that should be changed to make life easier. “Ask yourself, how can you improve something that you regularly do, and change it. Design is a tool that can help us achieve our goals,” he concluded.
Reaching for the stars
With Søren Jakobsen we explored our senses. Jakobsen, chef at Michelin star restaurant Gastromé, invited us to smell vanilla first, and then truffle, from two small tubes that everyone had in their goodie bags.
This interactive experience showed metaphorically how Jakobsen creates his menu. He wants his guests to feel safe when they eat at the restaurant, but he also wants to challenge them, and truffle represents that challenge.
The creation of his plates is based on memories. “We dig in our own memories and we try to put it in our dishes,” says Jakobsen. Dining at his restaurant is more than just eating delicious food: it is all about the experience. Today, they are working hard to reach for the second Michelin star.
At this point, all the food talk opened our appetite and the first session ended with Jacob Sherson, Associate Professor of Quantum Physics at Aarhus University, who dared us to be scientists with his Quantum app. “There is no learning without doing,” he suggested.
Move and choose your priorities
In the second session, the guys from Move Copenhagen activated the audience with movement and games. “A lot of movement drives to inspiration,” they suggested. We were looking silly while they made us dance to our heartbeat, but we had some fun and laughs.
Camilla Hesellund’s talk was a deep and honest one: What do I want to be when I die? With this provoking title, she unveiled the process she went through becoming CEO of Lux Technologies at only 23 years old.
At that time, work was her only priority, and her ambition placed her where she is now. But in the middle, she realised she was forgetting important things like friends and family. “Your actions tell what your priorities are,” she explained, while describing the moment that made her realise it was time to change. Otherwise, how will she be remembered when she dies?
This talk made us contemplate how actions are definitely more important and valuable than words. Where do we want to be when we die? Hessellund still has work as her first priority, but she has managed to balance it with the rest.
It’s okay not to be a morning person
I guess most people identified with Camilla Kring’s talk, at least those who are ‘late risers’. Kring proposes a revolution of the system with her theory. We live in a society that is ruled by early risers, and some people are just born with a different timing. Their peak arrives at another time in the day, when they are most productive, which is not in the 08:00 to 17:00 schedule.
Therefore, Kring proposes that we respect others’ time rhythm and support our own biological rhythm. The ideal world would be one in which we could wake up with our natural alarm clock, right?
We didn’t want the evening to end!
To round up, all of the speakers were outstanding. Not only did they inspire us and give us energy to think more about a better world, they also left us with interesting ideas to close the journey: “We are all musical beings” ( I still have hopes of learning how to play an instrument!), by Niels C. Hansen; “Museums as fitness centres for the mind”, by Erlend Høyersten, CEO of ARoS Aarhus Art Museum; “To give without expecting anything in return”, by Thomas ‘VovemoD’ Lütken; and finally, we learned how some people are willing to give up everything to go and live on Mars.
The evening came to an emotional close followed by a tapas and wine after-party to network with the speakers and attendees. The interactive activities during the breaks – such as going on the ferris wheel – the talks, and the overall event, exceeded our expectations.
We are looking forward to next year’s, which has been confirmed for September 30th. If you missed this one, you better start scheduling for 2017!