Does Bilbao need another Guggenheim?

The Basque city of Bilbao was a pioneer in Europe in the use of showcase cultural buildings as a trigger for urban regeneration. Just a generation ago the city’s waterfront was an industrial port. Today, in addition to the Guggenheim itself, its architectural landmarks include bridges by Santiago Calatrava and Daniel Buren, and an apartment […]

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Collapse of civilization tango

They say that the last days of Rome were culturally rich – and the same seems to be the case in our own times. Choreographer Valerie Green and Dance Entropy, a New York City-based experimental dance troupe, will shortly premier a new work, Rise and Fall, that’s about collapsing civilizations, the raw ugliness of industrialization, […]

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From bankster HQ to start-up central in Iceland

The Start-Up Kids is a documentary about young entrepreneurs who have founded web and media startups in the US and Europe. Made by two young Icelandic women, it contains interviews with tech-leaders of today and tomorrow. The founders of Dropbox, Vimeo, Flickr, WordPress, Posterous and many others talk about how they started their company, and […]

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Can thermal perception change behaviour?

A premise of Joseph Giacomin’s new book Thermal is that global warming is hard to ignore when you view the world through thermal eyes. Hard, but not impossible, to ignore. We humans are skilful evaders of uncomfortable truths. The premise of the author’s reseach group at Brunel University in the UK, Perception Enhancement Systems, is […]

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Work Faster, India!

“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop. It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced during my stay that India’s economy will grow by nine percent next year. [I […]

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What kinds of seeds?

Global design education in a nasty bind. There are hints of the dot com boom a decade ago. New products [courses] have been launched at a frantic rate in recent years. New buildings are springing up. Global aggregators have even started buying design schools; an obscure American multinational, Laureate Universities, purchased Domus Academy and Naba, recently. But […]

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What Kind of Design Institutes for India?

A decision by the Indian government set up four new National Institutes of Design [NIDs] in the country has sparked a lively debate about the kinds of design they should teach. An influential group of design thought-leaders has launched a campaign called VisionFirst that calls for a “rigorous co-creation process to bring clarity to the […]

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Africa, Where Events Are King. John Thackara talks to Mugendi M’Rithaa

First published in Design Observer. [Introduction] As the global crisis unfolds, interest in alternative economic and social models is growing – and with it, attention to what we might learn from Africa. Most of us in the North are badly informed about a continent that is home to over 900 million people, living in 53 […]

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Bangkok Cable Ways

On of the reasons we underestimate the sheer physical mass of our power and information networks is that they’re hidden from view. But not in Bangkok. The German photographer Thomas Kalak has spent ten years decade capturing images like these.They feature in an exhibiton at Munster Art Museum from 19 March to 3 July.

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