Dylan Wood

Name: Dylan Wood
Age: 32
Occupation: Architect / Designer / Researcher
Residence: Stuttgart, Germany / New Hampshire, USA

  • Describe yourself in 1-2 sentences!
    I am a trained architect and designer working on engineering new technology for a more elegant and ecologically built environment. I am inspired by nature and amazed about how we live in it.
  • What is your favorite TED talk?
    This one and this one!  
  • What do you like about the TED/TEDx format?
    The conciseness and ease of listening.  It often brings complex topics to the public eye.
  • What do you associate with our motto, “[de]construct the x”?
    We have to deconstruct the way we think about geometry, materials, and most importantly, how the objects we live with(in) everyday function and how they are made.  Only questioning the very processes allows us to learn and will lead to truly innovative solutions.  Designers are uniquely qualified to break down these barriers.
  • What is the topic of your talk and why are you passionate about it?
    My talk is about Material Programming.  It’s a relatively new idea in which materials (things we know like wood, metal, rubber) can be designed and physically programmed in ways that give them new functions like the ability to move or shift shape.  We see this idea in nature all the time. In a pine cone for example, the inner cellular structures change shape in response to moisture. In effect, each cell acts like a tiny motor to open and close but it uses no power, no wires, no sensor, and no gears. It’s really reliable, very precise, and simple. Each and every pine cone we see has these highly functional characteristics inside and we don’t even think twice about it.  From that perspective the way we build buildings seems complex and they often still don’t function properly.
    My talk will be about how we use this Material Programming concept to self-shape wood into elegant, yet highly efficient building components. I am passionate about the topic because it is so simple at heart but requires careful calculations and understanding to execute. It is amazing to me that these materials (especially natural materials) have been around for thousands of years and humans are still developing new ground-breaking ways to use them.  At the same time, it is challenging and requires a rethinking of methods and approaches. I think we should use our technology to see things like this through a different lens rather than trying to reinvent the wheel from scratch.  
  • How did you hear about TEDxStuttgart?
    Contacted by organizers
  • How’s the preparation going for your TEDxStuttgart 2020?
    I have prepared some sketches of 3 different stories/arguments that might work to explain my work.  I tried to do so without looking at the many previous presentations I have given on the topic to look from a fresh perspective.  I have prepared a rough sketch/storyboard. 
  • What is the biggest change you expect to see in the world within the next 10 years?
    I think the world will come together in many ways to tackle the larger problems facing global society. I think climate change and our relationship with nature will change for the better. For the built environment I think we will see a big change in the materials in our buildings and the technology that is used to design and construct them. 
  • What was the biggest challenge in your life so far?
    I am pretty lucky in life and I don’t think that I have faced many big challenges. My biggest challenge has been overcoming my shyness and figuring out that leadership can come through excellent work and clever ways to communicate it. Of course, navigating the distance created by the pursuit of my career is always a challenge, but one that also comes with many opportunities.
  • Tell us a wisdom / wise saying that you believe is true.
    Take a leap of faith