most read

Love vs Power In Iceland

For some Icelanders, in a country whose inhabitants have survived 1,100 winters without central heating, the environmental costs of aluminium smelting are worth paying if the alternative is a return to a life in grass-roofed huts. To many, that choice does not feel far-fetched. Andri Snær Magnason’s grandfather, for example, worked continuously on the land and sea […]

Also posted in city & bioregion, energy & design | Leave a comment

Oil-Powered Thinking

Last week the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (which has a new director, Martin Roth) staged a conference about Design & Risk. (The videos are online here). Its keynote speaker, the eminent sociologist Ulrich Beck, was on the committee of experts that, last year, persuaded Germany to abandon nuclear power and go for renewables by […]

Also posted in energy & design | Leave a comment

Design In The Light of Dark Energy

[ This text is a shortened version of my talk at last month’s conference in Philadelphia on Architecture & Energy; proceedings of that event will be published as a book later this year. Whilst preparing the talk, and this text, I also prepared this Reading List for Mr Monti. ] When the new Italian Prime […]

Also posted in energy & design | Leave a comment

From Milk To Superfoods: Supping With The Devil?

I’d be surprised if many readers of this blog work for the fracking industry. Those charming people spend a lot on lobbying and public relations, sure – but their main aim in life is to remain obscure. But food and drink? The branding, the packaging, the communications, the stores, the promotions, the trade shows, the […]

Also posted in food systems & design | Leave a comment

From Druids, to Biorefineries: Innovation In A Small Nation

How best do you help a resilient economy emerge in a region that has one foot in ancient ways and traditions – its other in the world of global universities and nuclear power? North West Wales has the ingredients to be one of Europe’s most resilient regions. Its valuable assets include a lot of relatively […]

Also posted in city & bioregion | Leave a comment

Design and Health: Flipping The Pyramid

It’s easy for two people to look at the same information – such as this chart (above) about health costs – and perceive totally different things. What I see is an out-of-control Medical Industrial Complex that’s heading, Icarus-like, for collapse. What many designers see is a sea of opportunity – and boy do they want […]

Also posted in social innovation & design | Leave a comment

Carrot City: Design’s New Shtick

A splendid new book from Monacelli Press marks the coming of age of urban agriculture – at least for the design world. Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture is a timely reflection on design and urban food systems, and on the ways that agricultural issues are once again shaping urban spaces and buildings.

Also posted in food systems & design | Leave a comment

Five per cent health: The risk of catabolic collapse and peak fat in modern health systems, what to do about them, and how design can help

I was emboldened, upon arriving at the Mayo Clinic ‘s Centre for Innovation last week, to learn that people with deep domain knowledge do not make the best innovators. I concluded that I was therefore well-qualified to warn one of the top academic medical centres in the world, each of whose 60,000 staff knows more […]

Also posted in care & health, social innovation & design | Leave a comment

Iceland: eaten alive, or growing to live?

“Who needs oil when you have rain?” The ad for Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, dominates this month’s Icelandair magazine. It sits alongside other ads that feature wild spaces, rugged outdoor clothing, and all-round natural purity. The message is not disguised: Iceland is blessed by massive amounts of clean energy. The true picture on the […]

Also posted in city & bioregion, development & design | Leave a comment