Ross Lovegrove’s space age awareness


The London-based designer has created a futuristic mirrored flying saucer for a French railway station

Picture: Simona Cupoli

Innovative designer Ross Lovegrove uses advanced technology to bridge the boundaries between design, nature and art in his work.

He recently unveiled a new public artwork inspired by modes of transport. For the Fantastic 2012 design festival – which includes exhibits around futuristic art, design, cuisine, literature, dance and more – arts body Lille3000 has commissioned UFO, a vast reflective disc which hovers directly over the train tracks of Lille Flandre Station, mirroring in distorted form the faces of passengers who stare up at it in astonishment.

Lovegrove sees something more than mere science fantasy in the enduring allure of the Unidentified Flying Object. “Blurry photos and obscure film footage is all we have, along with interviews from Area 51 scientists assigned to analyse propulsion systems and materials previously unknown to man. Can all these people who talk so matter of fact all be part of some broader conspiracy to act it all out? The mystery remains as a discourse between imagination and reality, people divided and derided on a subject that could be so profound and life changing for the whole of humanity if one day there will be a clear visitation to experience in the clear light of day the wonders that we are being slowly primed for.”

When an intermittent light shines down from the centre of the aluminium disc, it’s hard not to step into the beam and expect to be teleported aboard. It’s at once a cheeky nod to the classic retrofuturism of 1950s B movies, and a peep ahead to a speculative future we all still somewhat crave, and which we refuse to believe isn’t just around the corner. In a 21st century where travel seems to become costlier and more hasslesome by the day, who wouldn’t want to be whisked from Lille to Paris in, as UFO’s rubric promises, 30 seconds flat?

Ross Lovegrove’s UFO is at Lille Flandre Station as part of the Fantastic 2012 festival until January 2013.