Get to know the accomplished individuals who will present at the TEDxGreenville conference on April 8th! In this series, writer Jennifer Oladipo asks some compelling questions.
Ben Ebel engages students at engineering and design schools across the country as an ambassador for Michelin North America. He leads the Michelin Challenge Design program and has a dynamic portfolio of his own design work.
What was the last idea, big or small, that you thought was an idea worth sharing?
I think that a franchised “tattoo removal parlor” could be very successful. Currently, tattoo removal is done at a doctor’s office and there are costs and complexities that are introduced by having it done by a doctor who also has other responsibilities. Instead, I am thinking of a location that is staffed by technicians who, utilizing the latest laser technology, is able to remove tattoos that may no longer be beneficial to the person who has it. There are opportunities to offer this service to upcoming brides, former gang members, or jilted lovers who thought that the body art they chose was a great idea… but probably would benefit by having it removed. If the process could be standardized, and pricing based on coverage area, ink color, and age of tattoo, then there is an opportunity to create a deployable business model that I see doing very well.
As the owner of a tattoo that seemed like a great idea 20 years ago…this seems like a great idea to me.
What is a big problem that you think just needs a design solution?
I think that the lack of appropriate, accessible mobility in the underdeveloped regions of the world needs addressing. My fear is that as the third world areas develop and become more affluent, they will just want what we have big, expensive cars. And, as we have seen in China, that creates some serious environmental and sociological problems. We cannot just continue to scale our existing mobility industry and we need to find a way to meet their needs in a respectful and environmentally conscious way.
What’s a problem that people think design will solve, but you don’t?
People think that design will make them happy; that attractively designed items are inherently better. But items can become trendy and fail to solve your problem. People think that what others seem to enjoy will provide the same to them, and it ends up being a “keeping up with the Jonses” type of situation. Instead, I think that we need to sit down and individually decide what we need, and seek out the products, services and companies that meet our questions. Less can be more (and more cleverly designed), and invention is the mother of necessity.
What is your favorite TED talk and why?
“To create for the ages, lets combine art and engineering” by Bran Ferren. The Pantheon in Rome made an impression on him when he was 9 years old, ultimately shaping his life and career. He analyzes how the Pantheon was only achievable because it combined 5 independent human discoveries (which he calls miracles), and was the last human achievement to do it so well. He says autonomous cars will be the next Pantheon by combining 5 independently developed “miracles” into the most significant development in the last 2000 years.
What is the next frontier for the human race?
The next frontier for the human race is the integration of doing good and doing well. I believe that we are going to have to move into a more inclusive, compassionate society and the only way to make that appeal to our global power structure is to make it profitable. Companies like Tom’s shoes and Patagonia have made charitable functions part of their DNA. This will become the price of entry for the consumer market: products that help people or the planet. Invisible giving will become the new normal.
For more information about Kaleidoscope speakers and performers, visit our 2016 presenter page, where extended bios are available. The April 8th event is sold out, but watch for details about our free live feed.