What do Astrophysics, Whale Conservation and Haute Couture have in Common?

Picture an average working day in my office at Ocean Alliance … ocean views to die for, shared pizza lunches, and yesterday an impromptu roundtable with an astrophysicist, an ocean scientist, a private wealth manager and a robotics program director.
What was magical to witness were the dynamic ideas that emerge when science, nature, fashion, and finance get together – although the practicalities of getting a whale onto a catwalk caused a chuckle or two.
What do we all have in common? The complexity of our work, articulating why it matters, and helping people understand how it relates to them personally.
The collaboration between Ocean Alliance (science), Bionic Yarn, G-Star Jeans (fashion) and Pharrell Williams (music) fashioned by Parley for the Ocean (media) is a good example of what can happen when science and artistic factions collaborate. You can read more about it  here.
This project demonstrated that the science of cleaning up the plastic from our oceans can be used as a subject to create powerful momentum for change if it is translated effectively using a fashion and music medium.
The trick, however, is ensuring the science crosses into the creative sphere in its purest and most understandable form and the factions work together in balance and without dominance, like in nature, so everyone benefits. It reflects an interesting form of interdependence which curiously also applies to life in our oceans.
Science and the arts have had a long history of collaboration – Leonardo da Vinci is a singular prime example. Science ultimately drives our culture. Artistic imagination and creativity explores and translates the things we don’t understand, and eventually concepts drip down to us simpler beings so we get the bigger picture as it relates to us. Like here.
Fashion designers fill the catwalks with haute couture designs seeking inspiration from science and nature in developing story boards and producing new collections that have higher intellectual meaning that (hopefully) resonate with their premium clients.
Ultimately the ideas are translated for the masses by the high street retailers.
So maybe science, through haute couture, can be the catalyst to create a “nouveau noble” generation, ie. privileged individuals who create powerful movements of momentum on pressing global issues such as ocean acidification, but more than that, are creating effective networks to resolve challenges for the masses to participate in, not just the intellectual.
Meanwhile, it seems the younger scientific generation – bravely grappling with, for example, solving the 7 unsolved problems of physics – are really comfortable collaborating with all factions of the creative community, creating astounding new dynamics around problem solving and seeding their work into the real world with more meaning and accessibility, inspiring others to join the cause.
Scientists have long since turned to nature to resolve complex issues – did you know that Ocean Alliance whale recordings are travelling through space right now? There’s some very deep stuff about how whale sounds travel around the planet which even today, continue to generate a lot of interest from within our space network. Meanwhile, working with trusted collaborators such as Olin College of Engineering, we’ve been developing drones to help us collect whale blow for analysis – a neat link into astrophysics territory, perhaps, that’s inspiring a new generation of physicists.
So it seems this happy marriage of science, arts and issues for humanity looks set to continue.
Translating science for the masses inspires more people to join in thinking through problems and unearths ideas and opportunities (and if you really want to blow your mind about how this works in a high brow sense check out this video).
Meantime, I’m reminded every time I look up from the screen of my laptop into a glittering ocean view before me what a special world we live in and what incredible people there are in the world today. We all just need to work harder to join up the dots between them and help tease out the practical synergies of working together to solve real problems!
Get in touch if you’d like to explore with us, or want to rent an office at our research and innovation center with an ocean view!
– Debby Clement, Corporate Development, Ocean Alliance.

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