Thomas Rau – Out of the box thinker, architect and ideologue

19. March 2019 – Katharina Schlangenotto

When you first listen to Thomas Rau you might need some time to digest before it klicks. Thomas Rau is a master of twisting around the usual picture.

 “Dear friends, I want to have 300 lux on my desk for 1,600 hours.”

Thomas Rau told Philips when he needed light for his office. “I don’t care if you need a lamp or a car or a sleeping bag and if you’re running on milk, gas, water or whiskey. I just want to have light from you. And if you need electricity for that, okay, you have my blessing.” The guys from Philips started to sweat after his unsual request. Rau smiles. “Now, we work with light hours and I also have no electricity bill anymore.” Join the club if you need a moment to get it. Welcome to the world of Thomas Rau.

Thomas Rau knew early on that he wanted to change the world. In his former life, he was a nanny, completed a dance education and learned the art of sculpture. But all that seemed too small to really make a difference. Finally, his way led him to architecture: because buildings have an impact in this world.

“Society rewards business models that make money at the expense of things,” expert Thomas Rau explains. “That’s nice. But take a look at nature where it works exactly the other way round. We are guests on this planet and still do everything differently from what we could learn from nature. We humans are really resistant.”

The visionary Thomas Rau dares to say what most people are not even able to think

He wants us to rethink and to turn away from the idea of “Return on Investment” to the idea of “Return on Education”. He says: “Education comes from educate. That’s the central theme.“ He argues that we couldn’t just throw everything away after we used it and wants to get away from common production and work processes. Basic materials should no longer be binded in a building forever. Instead, he asks for a way of buildung that makes reuse of every single material possible after the building is no longer needed. It is the opposite of the common one-way-street-thinking.

In the case of Philips, light hours are now available. Thomas Rau pleads for a future in which consumption takes place on a service basis rather than a proprietary basis. “I have no more electricity bill,” he says and has made the seemingly unthinkable possible. Philips sells him just light, without lamps and light bulbs. Everything should be based on the usage principle: light hours, table lessons, sitting hours, running hours, toilet hours, transparent hours, tile lessons, mirror hours. And when we no longer need it, it goes back into the cycle. Once you understand his way of thinking, it is so fun to enter his world. Meet Thomas Rau personally and learn how to make the impossible possible.

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Thomas Rau

Innovator, Entrepreneur & Architect