On 5 November 2021, Wallpaper* editor-in-chief Sarah Douglas chaired a conversation between His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Sir Jony Ive, introducing the aims of the Terra Carta Design Lab, a day after launching the Terra Carta Seal honouring companies making an effort towards sustainability.

Held at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on the occasion of COP26, the conversation touched upon the motives that have driven Prince Charles to launch Terra Carta, his collaboration with Jony Ive, and the importance of the next generation facing environmental challenges globally. 

Prince Charles in conversation with Sir Jony Ive

‘What really has driven [the Terra Carta] is the fact that finally, after some 40 years of trying to raise awareness about all these issues, and trying to bring a whole series of people together, particularly from the business sector to get them to understand more and more about the need for sustainability, one of the things we could never really do was get the financial services sector to take it seriously,’ said Prince Charles. He noted how he always believed that the private sector would be key to developing solutions to the global environmental crisis, and that exchanges between public and private sectors are key.

‘When His Royal Highness was describing the Terra Carta, I was hugely struck by the fact that in spite of the profound nature of the challenges that it was trying to address, the Terra Carta wasn’t characterised by fear or terror, there was a rather beautiful optimism’ – Jony Ive

As well as cross-sector conversations, the creative collaboration with Ive has been crucial to the development of the Terra Carta. ‘When His Royal Highness was describing the Terra Carta, I was hugely struck by the fact that in spite of the profound nature of the challenges that it was trying to address, the Terra Carta wasn’t characterised by fear or terror, there was a rather beautiful optimism,’ he says. 

Portrait of Prince Charles, Jony Ive and Sarah Douglas at the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, discussing Terra Carta Design Lab during COP26

The latest instalment in the collaboration between the two saw Ive and his LoveFrom team creating a paper and digital seal inspired by nature, symbolic of the Terra Carta’s mission. ‘I feel so strongly that we must reconnect with nature,’ observed Prince Charles. ‘Nature has to be put at the centre of the whole operation and [Jony Ive’s] design, I thought, brilliantly helped to encapsulate that. But this is another reason why it’s always seemed so valuable to learn from nature. After all, nature has found answers to these problems over billions of years of evolution.’

As Douglas pointed out, the young generations are key to the initiative’s mission, and Prince Charles’ grandchildren have actually helped inspire his environmental work and desire to engage the next generations. ‘If you’re going to start young, I think there’s a real opportunity,’ he said. 

On that topic, when asked about his advice to the next generation, Ive responded: ‘Very often overlooked is how we actually begin the process, how we understand the problem, how we frame the problem, and if we don’t, we miss enormous opportunities before we really start. I think critical practice is that of being curious and inquisitive. But with real discipline and with real intention. And I think very often just looking at a problem in a curiously different way can make a whole range of solutions immediately clear.’ §