Prior to talking to Mo Moradi he sent me his phone number, and a photograph of himself wearing a face mask, which made him look pretty scary. I pointed that out to him. “When I saw myself in the mirror with that mask on I understood how people might feel,” laughed Mo. “I looked dangerous.” But once I got him on the phone he turned out to be the same gregarious and vigorous person that I remember from previous conversations with him.
Mo was born in Iran, and didn’t get to Europe till he was twenty, which is now ten years ago. Mo was hooked on cars (still is?) and he had his eyes set on doing car design at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. But, for various reasons, he ended up at the Berlin Weissensee School of Art, instead. Apart from not liking the oppressive Iranian regime, Mo also didn’t like the idea that university in Iran was so far removed from reality, from industry. So he got out. What he really wanted to do was projects that were in direct contact with industry. “In Germany there’s a system where universities and industry work together,” explained Mo. He’s participated in two TLDC’s. In 2014 he won third prize for his Ultratow tow tractor, and in 2020 he, together with Paul Poetzelberger came in second with their CIPS (Combined Infrastructure Parcel Servive) concept. It also won them one of the most prestigious awards in the country where they live and work: the German Mobility Award, bestowed upon them by a government minister, no less.
How did Mo and Paul come up with their solution? “Well, the actual core concept and principle was that we didn’t want to add another platform,” said Mo. Put simply, they didn’t want to introduce another set of vehicles to cities that were already overcrowded. Instead, they used existing infrastructure in the form of bus networks they could hitch a ride with, for the delivery of parcels. “Yeah, we wanted to rely on already existing infrastructure with good reach, rather than adding new platforms,” Mo said.
So, what’s been going on in Mo’s professional life since the TLDC and German Mobility successes? Ever entrepreneurial, Mo launched his own company – MonkeyBots, a company that seemed to have everything going for it, until – BANG – the pandemic was over us and quickly put paid to Mo’s schemes. “At least for the time being,” he said. But then a friend of his contacted him. “Did I want to join him at his company that works with various kinds of autonomous vehicles,” Mo said “So, that’s where I am now, and I work as head of design.” The company’s called Bär (German for bear) Technology, and operates out of Berlin.
A quote about the TLDC? “Yes, I always tell my colleagues and my friends that they should follow the competition, because, as I see it, it’s a forum for innovative ideas, and not just a competition,” Mo said. Would he recommend the contest? “Oh yes, both to participate in or just to follow. It’s of huge value that Toyota is so open to new ideas.”
So, what’s Mo’s chief inspiration, as a designer? “Well…, I’d rather do nothing than something that doesn’t make sense,” said Mo. The question he’d ask himself would be: “Does this make sense, is it going to improve the quality of life…? Am I contributing something positive to society – or not?”
Advice, pointers, things to think about for the 2022 entrants? “Each participant should be clear with themselves,” Mo said. And if they’re happy with what they’re working on, “they shouldn’t be afraid of putting forward their craziest ideas.” Apart from doing all the homework and research, there’s something equally important, according to Mo: “Just turn off everything, and write down or sketch your idea just as you want to.”