What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Who are you?

Antonelli: It’s Paola Antonelli, Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art, New York.  I was born in Sardinia, grew up in Milan, so I’m Italian.  Growing up in Milan exposed me to all sorts of design forms – from architecture, to industrial design, furniture design and fashion, and I used up all of it.  And being born in Sardinia made me have one of the biggest breakthroughs in my life.  That’s when I decided to move from economics to architecture.  So that was basically the beginning of my new life.  I was young and I was very arrogant.  And I had enrolled at the hardest possible course at the university.  It was this highfaluting course in economics at the __________ University.  And I remember that two years after having started I was really unhappy.  And I remember being on a rock in the sea in Sardinia saying, “What do I do?”  And all of a sudden I decided, “You know what?  I’m gonna go the opposite direction.”  And it was a really quiet but very strong decision, because architectural school in Milan at that time was pure chaos.  It was like 15,000 students, no structure whatsoever.  Only a small fraction would actually graduate.  Hardly anybody . . .  Hardly nobody would become an architect.  You know they would become pizza makers, chefs, fashion designers.  So it was really the opposite from completely structured at the ________ to totally unstructured, all possibilities open, but also no knowledge of what the future would bring.  There are some people that are born with a mission.  I was not.  Age nine I wanted to become an astronaut, so I wrote to NASA from Italy and I told them I wanted to become an astronaut.  And they were very kind.  They responded and they told me that’s wonderful.  So you have to stay in school.  You have to study, especially mathematics.  You have to take very good care of your health, especially your teeth.  Because you know at that time the pressure in the spaceships was not like perfectly fine-tuned.  So I was happy.  I was doing my whole thing.  And then at age 11 I get my first cavity, so desperation.  I can’t be an astronaut anymore.  So I went from that to astrophysics.  I was reading, you know, just whatever ___________ book I could find.  Then I went from that to nuclear physics.  In the meantime I was drawing garments and clothes.  I mean completely all over the map.  And then writing for a newspaper as a teenage hire, and then economics.  So I changed many times.  And but I have to say there is always a design in your destiny because I just ended up in the profession I was meant to be in from the beginning.  I just didn’t know it.  I just followed the waves.  You know I consider myself a really good surfer even though I’ve never been on a board in my life.

 

Who are you?

Newsletter: Share: