As NASA’s mission passed Pluto last week, I undertook my own flyby of London to meet up with Atlas of the Future co-founder Cathy Runciman and author, entrepreneur, futurist and sometime comedian Mark Stevenson. Setting out to answer ‘What’s next?’, the curious author’s An Optimist’s Tour of the Future rocketed up the book charts in 2011 (and can now be read in 12 languages).

Mark Stevenson Optimist


Mark cares hugely about making the future a better place. About to publish his second book, We Do Things Differently: Travels on the Cutting Edge of Change, the infinitely-quotable pragmatic optimistic says things like,

Batman doesn’t come onscreen and go: “I will have underfloor heating.” That’s not his motivation. Batman has a ‘bigger than me’ project. As do the people we aspire to be, or the people we want to sleep with.

The FutureHero will feature on Atlas of the Future in September. Mark loves a good quote, from Mahatma Gandhi to Charles F. Kettering, and not least from the provocative Ed Gillespie – who just so happens to be who we were meeting next. At a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session in his Clerkenwell offices, Ed and his Futerra team gave us an amazing set of suggestions for projects to include in the Atlas. Constantly pushing boundaries with their clients, the sustainability communications agency have everything green, ethical and climate change-related covered – whilst getting their five a day.

55 ideas in 20 minutes. Whilst eating endamame. New record.

55 ideas. 20 minutes. 200 edamame. Probably.

Next stop in London’s design hub of Clerkenwell was the SCIN Gallery, the UK’s largest independent materials library. Within, maverick Annabelle Filer has set up a new clean tech resource The Green Room. Already becoming an active centre of activity at the forefront of sustainable material innovation, it has has an incredible array of materials, finishes and processes that she feels need to be exposed to architects and designers. At the gallery’s summer party, the ‘Materials Girl’ took us through her AtlasChart.

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But the materials weren’t the only hardcore elements. There were also killer espresso martinis…

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… which might have caused my phone-focusing issues. This blurry face belongs to Phil Dobson BSc (Hons), MBPsS, DHyp, BSCH (Assoc) of Brainworkshops, Having developed a ‘science of peak performance’, the clinical hypnotherapist and neuro-linguistic programming practitioner took me on a trip through his brain’s favourite neuroscience projects for the Atlas – from wearable EEG  meditation headsets to nootropics. He doesn’t need smart drugs.


Next on the East London hit list was Peter ‘Luxury of Protest’ Crnokrak. In his Mare Street Studios, the geneticist riffed about data visualisation being the new poetry and the project that made The Creators Project and FACT Magazine lose their minds – his synesthetic transcription of the brainwave response of a five-year-old boy while listening to music.

Not sure what you just watched? The Canadian data-friendly Elvis will blow your brain with his explanation of the systematic methodology that allows for primal biological experiences to be visualised to facilitate the understanding of the emotional responses to stimuli. Also, he gives good hair.


Leaving no room for infographic mediocrity, Peter divulged his AtlasChart Top 5, from Satellite Archaeology to the Pope being the ultimate cross-over act: “My guess is he’s an extraterrestrial life form sent to earth to save humanity from itself.” Unfortunately Pope Francis can’t save me from transcribing all these interviews. If we can get to Pluto, discover Earth 2.0 and make fallen angels fall from the sky, surely a transcribing app exists?

Until then… be patient,

Boobie astronaut