#BeYourOwnIcon: Bjarke Ingels

#BeYourOwnIcon: Bjarke Ingels

bjarke ingels on american sunglass

With nearly every aspect of life, there is the standard, the status quo. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the extraordinary which makes us think, which challenges our own ideas of the possible and which inspires us to reach beyond our own limits.

With nearly every aspect of life, there is the standard, the status quo. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the extraordinary which makes us think, which challenges our own ideas of the possible and which inspires us to reach beyond our own limits.

That premise is the basis for this blog which focuses on architect Bjarke Ingels (and later on sunglass manufacturers Ray-Ban and Maui Jim, but more on that later.) First, Ingels.

In many cases, architecture – the shape and design of buildings – is pretty standard, particularly when it comes to modern ones. But Ingels, featured last year in The New York Times and more recently on “60 Minutes” is changing that.

The Times called Ingels, “the most important architect you have never heard of” and “60 Minutes” referred to him as “the architect of the moment – a starchitect.”

His most prominent work – Two World Trade Center – has yet to be finished, but when complete will serve as a replacement for the original brought down on 9/11. Ingels’ firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is designing the structure as a series of steps reaching towards the sky with rooftop gardens at each of the levels.

In the “60 Minutes” piece, Ingels spoke to reporter Morley Safer about Two World Trade Center telling him that, “I got a letter from a brother of a firefighter that gave his life at 9/11. And he just wrote to me to say that, ‘I see it as a giant staircase to heaven, evoking the heroic stair climb of the first responders at 9/11.’”  

It was a moving statement, serving to show the importance of a building that will have a profound meaning that goes well beyond aesthetics. And so Ingels knows he must get it right.

This is a huge responsibility for anyone to have, let alone a 41-year-old architect from Denmark. 

Bold, Daring Ideas

But based on Ingels’ history, he is up to the task. His previous work includes an underground maritime museum designed like a boat; an apartment building constructed as a figure-eight featuring a continuous ramp that allows tenants to cycle all the way to the tenth floor; and a joint parking lot and apartment building in Copenhagen that simulates a mountain from the exterior and which won the World Architecture Festival Housing Award in 2008.

His works are the type that you must see to believe. They are awe-inspiring, all while combining multiple aspects of modern culture – Ingels describes it as the “yes is more” concept – to architecture. Here’s an example: in Copenhagen his firm is building a waste-burning power station that will have a ski slope on its roof.

Basically, if you can dream it, you can build it.

Though relatively young for an architect, Ingels is making a name for himself based upon his ideas and his ability to show that buildings can be many things to many people. They can be a mixture of offices, apartments, gardens, parking garages, shops, cafes, restaurants, meeting places – even a ski slope - all while embracing an eco-friendly philosophy. Underneath it all, Ingels’ passion for his work has shown that architecture can be exciting and can be different.

And so can sunglasses. Like the Ray-Ban Aviators Ingels can be seen wearing in the photo above. The Ray-Ban brand and the aviator style embody the “yes is more” concept, representing the company’s irreverent attitude towards excessive formalism. Just like Ingels.

Maui Jim, a brand popular with beachgoers, boaters, fishermen and those who love the outdoors also applies Ingels’ attitude towards the manufacturing of sunglasses. The brand’s popularity is partly the result of their sleek, fashionable design (hello, Ingels) and partly the result of being on the cutting edge of technology (Ingels, again). Maui Jim’s PolarizedPlus2 sunglasses personify that ideal; like an Ingels’ building, you have to see it to believe it. The PolarizedPlus2 not only blocks out 100% of the harmful UV rays, they are able to reduce glare by 99%, making them exceptional for active use. And they boost the colors you see while enhancing your vision by providing better contrasts which makes them ideal for sports, especially golf.

Ray-Ban and Maui Jim are two brands that offer state-of-the-art, head-turning sunglasses to consumers. Both are fashionable, showing that you can be inventive and daring without sacrificing quality. And like Ingels, they dare to be different, showing just how far you can go with something as tried and true as sunglasses.

Words of an Icon: “Architecture is about trying to make the world a little more like our dreams.” – Bjarke (Be*Ya*Ka) Ingels