Switzerland at Pier 17: Opening doors and ideas

“This is swissnex 2.0,” announced Christian Simm, CEO of swissnex San Francisco, at the Grand Opening of Switzerland at Pier 17. The Swiss and San Francisco community celebrated the launch of the shared waterfront hub of Swiss innovation: a place for international collaboration amongst diplomats, academics, creatives, and entrepreneurs. In the new swissnex gallery, luminaries such as Google’s Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Artist Thomas Hirschhorn, and O’Reilly Media CEO Tim O’Reilly discussed the future of storytelling, hospitality, food, work, biotech, and machine intelligence. The opening’s list of speakers and activities covered the entire three days.

Guests enjoyed thweb_cityhall_switzerlande talks amongst shiftable geometric shapes made from recycled foam, designed by BUREAU A as part of the #SOFTFORM exhibition, which included Tweeting idea-hats with a running printout of future-focused questions from Fragment.in. Later, musical guests included a DJ set by Josette Melchor of Gray Area, and the first West Coast performance of OY’s Ghanaian-Swiss avant-garde dance music.  

The celebration wasn’t limited to the remodeled interior of Pier 17. Mayor Ed Lee announced Sept. 23 “Switzerland at Pier 17 Day” in San Francisco, and City Hall was lit up in Swiss colors on Sept. 25.

Not content with ideas alone, swissnex San Francisco launched three new initiatives to help shape and understand the future.

  • DART 17 is an ideas testing lab created alongside Swisscom, Pro Helvetia, and Engagement Migros. It’s an interdisciplinary space where creativity and innovation come together to play, test, and experiment. DART 17 is accepting applications.
  • Pier 17 Science Studio is a fellowship supporting emerging talent in science communication, made possible by Gebert Ruef Stiftung with support from the Swiss National Sciences Foundation. Fellows develop ideas, practices, and models that advance dialogue around science and society. Applications for fellowships are now open.
  • Living Lab, a testing ground to explore how we will collaborate and create in the future. The Living Lab is a collaboration with partners Arup, Deloitte Center for the Edge, Logitech, Nestlé, View Dynamic Glass, and Vitra.

The opening of the swissnex space is an inspiring time. These initiatives will help our spirit of optimism shape the future of ideas and design.