These are bizarre times. Where before we simply focused on living our lives, now we’re starting to think more and more about HOW we live our lives due to the pandemic. Will these experiences change anything about how people view the earth and our environment? We talk about this during a walk with Jan and Bert Kriekels.
Respect nature: Man is the COVID of Nature
Jan wrote a book about his philosophy on the world more than seven years ago: Innovate or Die. This book is the foundation of Jaga's corporate values that still hold true today.
Jan: “Just like COVID is starting to have a major impact on our lives and society, humans are similar in the way we have disrupted nature in recent years. You could say that man is the COVID of nature."
“For centuries, our ecosystems and environments adapted to human activity, but today's activity is moving too fast for nature. The consequences of our impact—our pollution and misuse of resources— can no longer be ignored. Many people are aware that this cannot continue indefinitely, but find it difficult to change anything.
“Nature is difficult to understand. People still don't believe the climate is really changing in a way that will impact life as we know it—though we are starting to see the consequences of our activity.”
Bert: “Or, they believe it, but they cannot comprehend it because it has yet to have a direct impact on them—it hasn’t become personal. Too often, this is what it takes for people to take action.”
Pandemics are Timeless
So what makes us more aware now? COVID-19 affects us personally. Yet, it is not the first time that something like this has happened.
Jan: “Pandemics have a timeless impact. In China, they have already experienced the SARS and MERS virus, which made them much more aware of their lifestyle and resulted in societal changes. However, it goes back even further in time. For example, The Great Wall of China was built to keep out diseases."
“On the other hand, many people died from the Spanish flu after the First World War. Yet, we quickly forgot and made the same mistakes again. Only when it affects us personally we will be able to change ourselves.”
Bert: “This is also positive for people—that they can quickly leave bad experiences behind. We learn from the lessons and then continue on with our lives. But hopefully now something will change per-manently because of this experience. It’s time.”
Comfortable Indoor Climates
The pandemic has also shown us the need for more comfortable and efficient indoor spaces.
Jan: “Because of the pandemic, we’ve all spent more time at home in recent months than we ever before. This has shown us how important it is to have a home that’s not only comfortable—warm when it’s cold outside and cool when it’s hot—but a home that also supplies us with fresh and clean air. These are all important pieces to our health and wellbeing.”
“While this is important, we also need to find efficient ways to achieve this sustainably so we can limit our dependence on things like fossil fuels and reduce the amount of pollution we’re generating.”
Dream a Future: Artificial Intelligence
We are increasingly recognizing that our impact is not reversible and this is especially true for the climate. Something will have to change, but how?
Jan: “We have to develop something in the future to guide people on earth. I think Artificial Intelli-gence (AI) will help us. Just like our GPS system, it will help offer us the information and data we need to make the right choices.”
Bert: “AI is good when used in deliberate and thoughtful ways. We can effectively use AI to guide our lives and give us freedom. For instance, using it to reduce the number of mundane and routine tasks so we can focus on more meaningful pursuits. It should not limit our freedoms, but expand them.”
Jan: “AI is going to make our lives easier, and we should embrace it and develop smart ways to use it in our lives. It will guide us to look to the future and help limit damage to the environment while en-couraging diversity. It has many advantages."
Daring to dream about the future is an important value of Jaga. And that is exactly the idea behind Moby. In 2000, Jaga developed a Modular Oxygen Bubble (Moby), realizing that the air quality in our world is deteriorating.
Moby is a self-sufficient unit that can withstand all kinds of ecological shocks and prepares people for a different future. Moby offers a self-contained atmosphere free of noise, pollution, diseases and crowds. It provides optimal oxygen, CO2 and uses minimal energy.
Jan: “For the concept behind Moby, I sought inspiration in the culture of the Incas. They lived in the jungle, but had a limited chance of survival due to wildlife, diseases and bacteria. So they started living above the tree line, in the pure air without bacteria and diseases. This old example shows so well that clean air is important for your health. The need for fresh air is certainly not new, but we now see that it is more relevant than ever.”
As we improve our indoor environments, it must not be at the expense of the global environment. In the future, we must live even more economically and sustainably. This means investing in innovative products that contain as little material as possible, use less energy and less fuel.
Jan: “We get the key to circular thinking from nature. Biomimicry is the term we use for the imitation of natural elements. Nature is the basis of all life."
“Let’s look at waste in nature—it simply doesn’t exist. Everything in nature, from a fallen tree to spoiled fruit, is recycled into something new. We must adopt this basic principle and apply it to our development process for all products. If we can find creative ways to produce and reuse products, we will be able to substantially limit our impact on nature."
Awake the Artist: Collectivity
What else do we notice about the COVID-19 crisis? At Jaga, we lead with innovation and view this experience as an opportunity instead of a threat. It’s an opportunity to grow. By embracing collectivi-ty, we can adopt more holistic solutions that help all of humanity.
Jan: “In the future, we should embrace individuality rather than mass consumption. If you have input into a product’s development, you attach much more value to it. It brings soul and culture into society rather than something created in mass quantities and often at another’s expense. Sourcing products en masse stops our creativity.”
Bert: “At Jaga, we show that you can make personalized products in an industrial way. It is not a mass production, but it is custom made and developed with input from everyone in the design process—architects, engineers, contractors and even the individuals who live and work in the climates we cre-ate. This open communication also drives innovation at Jaga—we hear what our customers want and need and we design innovative solutions to meet those needs. It’s a process and product built around our clients.”
Create Emotions: Positive Emotions
Bert: “At Jaga, our products are tailor-made to meet your wants and needs. Everyone wants to make their environment unique, which makes it special and personal.
Together, we must create and let the consumer participate in the development process of what they buy. By attaching value to a product, people are more aware and economical with their belongings. It creates an emotion.”
Jan: “If we start living more as makers instead of consumers, we will also get more energy from our own community. We are going to look up the collective more and share experiences and knowledge with each other. That is very positive.”
Building Bridges: A Task for the Future
Jan: “We have to put our minds together in search of survival models for the future. The last value is a spiritual value; building bridges. Businesses must build bridges between the creative people and the economists. You can already see this starting to happen through the coronavirus crisis."
“In this way, we connect the material with the spiritual, so that truly innovative is possible. The most important elements have to be automated. Food must be pure and close to humans. Air you breathe should be monitored. That is our job for the future.”
Which Path Do We Choose?
But what about the five values of Jaga that were drafted years ago? To this day, these values are still followed.
Jan: “At Jaga, we provide warmth, clean, fresh air and cooling in houses. We bring comfort and a bet-ter indoor climate, without sacrificing the outdoor climate. We keep looking for connections to make a difference together."
"At the moment, we have the choice between two paths. Will we return to "normal" after COVID-19 or will we change? We don't know what's going to happen. Hopefully, events have opened the eyes of many people. However, there will always be a large group going back to "normal" and we have to accept that too. As long as we keep thinking positively about the future.”
Curious about the philosophy of Jan Kriekels? Check this webinar:
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