burning man founding member larry harvey speaks at design indaba 2015
burning man founding member larry harvey speaks at design indaba 2015 burning man founding member larry harvey speaks at design indaba 2015
apr 21, 2015

burning man founding member larry harvey speaks at design indaba 2015

burning man founding member larry harvey speaks at design indaba 2015
image © designboom




as the chief philosophic officer and founding member of the annual burning man festival, larry harvey knows more than most about hosting a huge cultural event. more than 70,000 participants from across the globe meet in the middle of nevada’s desert to build black rock city, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art and self-expression. in its most recent editions, many have flocked to the festival in anticipation of the monumental, participatory and immersive art installations sited throughout the vast natural landscape, each making an ephemeral, yet memorable, mark on the temporary community. three designboom editors visited the most recent edition of the festival under the theme ‘carnival of mirrors’, experiencing first hand the collaboration, creativity and distinctive cultural engagement that is an essential part of the social environment.


in a video by design indaba, harvey — a conference speaker at the 2015 edition — reflects on the spiritual impact burning man offers for those who experience it, the culture of sharing and gift-giving, and how the international event has courageously changed the face of the art world.



larry harvey: artists deserve to make money
video courtesy of




harvey is concerned that modern economics is negatively impacting the value of art in society. ‘the art market is largely about commodity transactions,’ he says. ‘I think the economics of the art world have grossly distorted art and made it much less relevant to people’s lives.’ this kind of thinking makes art more about the creator’s accolades than the work itself. the collaborative art typical of burning man therefore has a lower market value, since its assembly is comprised by teams of people, rather than a single artist.


‘we changed the face of festival cultures, because they’re all doing art now. many people come for the art and stay for the community.’ the burning man project, which funds artists building installations at the event, has widened its support beyond the event to include interactive artworks in cities around the world. burning man champions art by people with no credentials or recognition in the traditional art world. ‘we are a nursery for art. we are making it more possible for artists to sell their art such that they can live off their art. and that’s a terribly hard thing to do. that’s like trying to become a movie star!’

visitors spend quite some hours in a queue to enter the event
image © designboom

visitors mainly move around with individually decorated bikes
(the unicorn seems to be one of people’s favorite spiritual animal)
image © designboom

burning man larry harvey design indaba designboom
photo by trey ratcliff

hundreds of mutant art vehicles, artists, installations and sculptures form the playa’s landscape
image © designboom

burning man larry harvey design indaba designboom
‘church trap’
image courtesy of gruntzooki

anita hackethal (designboom) after sunrise with the man in the background
image © designboom

image courtesy of design indaba

la playa in the morning hours – in the background (left): the ‘temple of grace’
image © designboom

image courtesy of design indaba

thousands of people celebrate the spectacular performance of the rising sun
image © designboom

attendees are welcoming the sun and cheer to the breathtaking nature’s performance
image © designboom

people climb on top of their RVs to watch as the golden sun disappears behind the mountains
image © designboom

stunning color spectacles in the sky at sunset and sunrise
image © designboom

the giant wooden burning man sculpture is the center of all happenings
image © designboom

fireworks accompany the burning ritual of the man, celebrated by almost 70,000 people
image © designboom

the burning man is the effigy of the event – the festival is coming to an end
image © designboom

heavily modified road vehicles become art installations that can be driven – some of them are made from scratch
image © designboom

the camp site in the evening hours
image © designboom

burning man larry harvey design indaba designboom
burning man from above

  • Techno Man or Yuppie Man would be a more appropriate name. Too bad, there only is a house/techno version of this festival idea.
    How can we support art if we cannot sell? Why can’t tickets be cheaper? Why aren’t there other festivals like this, more affordable, not in a desert?

    Critic says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,396 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample