No city in the United States grows faster than Austin, Texas. And while the unofficial motto, “Keep Austin weird”, may play its own part in attracting the crowds, there is also the draw of the seminal SXSW festival, firmly establishing the Texan metropolis between culture and future tech. We caught up with three of the event’s speakers whose ideas promise to shape our future urban lives.

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A metropolis with a small town feel, hipster capital of the South, Texan music mecca, origin of the eco movement: Austin easily fits it all. And yet, its residents seem to have one common denominator: They are different. Some say a little weird – but certainly not self-centered. After all, they are hosting one of the world’s most prominent future festivals, SXSW (South by Southwest), an annual event that pinpoints the state of music, film, and interaction through a wealth of concerts, screenings, and conferences every spring.

Gabe Blanchet, CEO and co-founder of Grove Labs
Gabe Blanchet, CEO and co-founder of Grove Labs

To find out more, we asked three of the festival’s prominent speakers to share their groundbreaking ideas and designs that promise to shape the future of urban space. Among them is Gabe Blanchet, CEO and co-founder of Grove Labs, who develops bespoke eco systems for houses and apartments to help urbanites raise fruit and vegetables within the confines of their own homes.

Tiffany Chu, CDO and co-founder of Transitmix, and interaction designer Ainsley Wagoner
Interaction designer Ainsley Wagoner and Tiffany Chu, CDO and co-founder of Transitmix

Or take designer and planner Tiffany Chu, CDO and co-founder of Transitmix, and interaction designer Ainsley Wagoner. Their digital tool helps city administrations to plan optimized public transport routes to transport a maximum of people within the network’s given constraints.

Igor Siddiqui of isssstudio
Igor Siddiqui of isssstudio

Just how urban space can adjust – steadily and most of all sustainably – to new challenges, is something Igor Siddiqui knows all about. In Austin, the architect runs his own design studio isssstudio and also teaches at the University of Texas. His field of interest: blueprints and reusable materials for temporary architecture and installations.

In order to catch these inspired and inspiring minds, we zipped around Austin in a matching car: the ultra-quiet, emission-free, and sprightly smart electric drive from the car2go car sharing pool.

Photos: Daniel Brückner
Direction and camera: Jan Rödger
Additional footage: Grove Labs, Transitmix, isssstudio, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, car2go North America

Editing: Felix Schaal for Firsteight Berlin
Music: Mick B. – Lonestar