Wednesday at kyu House

Envisioning beyond ourselves.

All photos: Hiiiya for kyu House

Highlights From Wednesday


When IDEO Partner Luis Cilimingras went to COP27 in Egypt with a group of kyu executives last year, the attendees observed how “incredibly siloed” the conference was. People from the energy industry spoke with other energy executives; financiers spent time with fellow financiers. Cilimingras believes what is taking place at kyu House this week offers a far different perspective. “We created a space where creativity can accelerate climate solutions in a much different way,” he says.

As a creative, Cilimingras has a similar vision as to how future COPs could unfold. He likes that countries not often seen on the world stage are well represented, and feels that negotiators are the real diplomatic heroes of the two-week event, but there’s far too much talk and not enough action. Instead, give everyone a year to prepare and leave the information exchange at home. “These two weeks could be just the magic of what happens when you meet someone and create something together,” he says.

A decade after he founded ATÖLYE, CEO Engin Ayaz likens it to a garden. The design and innovation consultancy he runs planted seeds in Turkey and the Middle East, was tended to with care, and has now blossomed. As an example, he cites the 50 teachers his company handpicked for their innovative attributes, a cohort that has flourished into a network of 20,000 collaborative teachers across Turkey. There’s also a long-term project for the UAE government that addresses the issue of food loss and waste. “We’ve been working on growing an organization that puts the community at heart and focuses on driving real-world impact through our projects and programs,” he says.

This philosophy — and the transformative journey ATÖLYE offers clients – has enabled the organization to develop several different areas of business. Several of those portfolios were on display this week during kyu House sessions. Among the concepts that Ayaz is keen to get across is that it’s intrinsically motivated people who move the dial. So for ATÖLYE, the challenge is engaging and activating them. For Ayaz, it helps to project into the future and envision another garden bearing fruit.

There’s a beige brick on display at kyu House that has the feel of hard sturdy plastic but is more pliable than concrete. Plenty of attendees have grabbed it while attending sessions and likely have no idea that it is made of mycelium and agricultural waste. It was donated by students from the University of Indonesia.

Fungus and agricultural waste might seem to make for unlikely building blocks, but IDEO’s Natalia Vasquez, who works on Climate Change & Futuring, explains this may be a glimpse of the near future. “We know that cement is very carbon intensive,” she says. “This brick is a prototype of alternatives that may come into play. We’ll soon be seeing a drive towards more regenerative materials.”

At kyu House’s morning session, New Different, and Better, about how emerging tech unlocks products of the future, Sage Earth VP George Sandilands provided a thought-provoking comment when he suggested the public should be able to create tax incentives and barriers when it comes to how businesses treat the environment. While we can do all we can in terms of creating solutions, he said, we have to have a policy framework that makes sure that businesses are moving in the right direction.

For The Art of Leading with Vision, SYPartners and NOW Partners invited a global group of leaders to explore how vision setting influences the creative process. Dr. Pradeep Sharma, Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, spoke of “micro visions” and how recognizing and executing them can unveil new paths forward. Other speakers reinforced the importance of championing the visions of those around us, an acknowledgment that each individual has a role to play. To fully attune to the needs of all parts of the ecosystem, the room agreed, we must be fully present in our own well-being. Retaining a mindset of inclusivity and a culture of care will equip us with the perspective to envision beyond ourselves.