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Influx interview- mads hagstrom- danish design center

February 2, 2006

In the latest interview, Influx spoke with Mads Hagstrom, the director of The Flow Institute at the Danish Design Center. Flow is an effort by the institute to get people to think about sustainability and to promote the Danish perspective on the subject.

As Mads mentions in the interview, one of the most innovative approaches Flow has taken to get its message out is to set up pop-up stores that sell empty product packages that communicate key information about sustainability. In short, Denmark is making an effort to emerge as the thought leader in the sustainability debate.

1.What is the Flow Institute

The purpose of FLOWinstitute is therefore to facilitate and contribute to sustainable growth by offering products and services to consumers and businesses as well as development activities for individuals, organizations, companies and other institutions. We also want to spread the acknowledgement of sustainable growth as a viable business practice, as well as acknowledge those already active in this field in their own unique way.

2. What was its inspiration?

My desire to contribute to more sustainable growth.

The concept of sustainability is traditionally conceived in terms of environmental protection. Sustainability can, however, also be understood in a much broader sense as a general parameter for balance/imbalance.

In the industrial age growth has been associated with economic growth and an increase in size or quantity. Growth for the sake of growing.

In the age of wisdom and innovation, growth is about development and positive change on both an economic, social, technological, environmental and individual level.

Sustainable growth for the sake of replenishing, restoring, and nourishing the rest of the world.

3.Where can one find Flow products?

FLOWmarket is a shop specifically designed to lift consciousness by simply selling the holistic FLOWmindset. The values have been transformed into physical products in the shape of aesthetically designed empty packaging and containers with print-on labels that the visiting consumers can buy at prices ranging from 15-150 dkr.

A few examples, under the product category “individual flow” the shop offers: stress killers, addiction liberators, inner calmness, and “meaningfulness”.

Under the product category “collective flow” the shop offers: “Consumption moderators”, “Commercial-free space”, “tolerance” and “non-reach ability”.

Under the product category “Environmental flow” the shop offers: “pollution dissolver”, “organic food”, “clean tap water” and “clean air”.

In keeping with these new scarcity goods FLOWmarket is highlighting Danish elite companies that have succeeded in gaining a leading position in the rapidly expanding “holistic market” through their unique approach to sustainable innovation.

The first FLOW market open end in 2004 at the Danish design centre- and has since then been granted a permanent status. In November 2005 we had one open in Zurich for a month- a great success. Therefore we are now planning on opening permanent ones in capitals around the world.

4. Why is Denmark’s point of view different from other countries?

Because we have our own unique history, cultural values, state model etc. We are currently working on a strategy to promote Denmark and Scandinavia as an international FLOWvalley- a superhub for sustainable science, innovation and business. We see a great hidden potential-e.g. Denmark possesses one the world’s biggest share of the renewable energy and has one of the world’s most progressive research fields in this area. We have a unique welfare state model founded in social caring and equality. We have a cultural fundament from movements like the folks school and co-operative movement. One of the biggest Danish tourist attractions is the freecity “Christiania” based in Copenhagen.

These are all small examples of the hidden potential in Denmark where we can add a unique angle to the whole field of innovation. Unfortunately the politicians don’t see this yet; instead they are very busy on following American, Indian and Chinese approaches to innovation. (Where growth is primarily an expression for economical growth) Therefore we see it as one our roles to gently guide them to see this huge hidden potential.

5.When will Flow come to the United States?

Very soon we hope. There’s a small possibility that the FLOWmarket will hit NY in May 2006- but it’s still uncertain.


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