Are cosmopolitan cities creative?

Do mixed societies innovate more than homogeneous ones? How do new ideas and innovations emerge when people of diverse cultures interact? Comedia has launched an eighteen month project across cities in several countries called The Intercultural City to find out how interractions between cultures might be formed into new products, services, and styles – and how these then spread. The idea is to provide policy makers in city development, business, and innovation management with evidence and a toolkit of techniques with which to encourage greater intercultural innovation. Comedia have a hunch that “there are certain people who make things happen and provide opportunities in cities, and more so for immigrant and minority groups. Such networkers, intermediaries, catalysts have a greater facility to move within and particularly between communities. They have a higher degree of intercultural networking capacity”. That hunch will be tested and results published in a final report, with a conference to discuss it, scheduled for March 2006.

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What will *you*wear for the end of the world?

Our models – Joost and the Joostettes – are wearing theDoors of Perception 8 t-shirts, designed by Abhishek Hazra. Apart from being the most beautiful Doors t-shirt ever, this one is also destined to be the most valuable, too, as we only produced a limited quantity – and if the world financial system collapses you won’t be able to buy one. So do so fast. Available in sizes S, M, L and XL. Price $40 inlcuding postage and packing.

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Kiss your lifestyle goodbye

“The end of oil is closer than you think. Oil production could peak next year. Just kiss your lifestyle goodbye”. A rollicking doomsday story in today’s Guardian, by John Vidal, revisits the so-called “peak oil” contoversy about whether a global peak to oil production is approaching. According to Vidal, “the US government knows that conventional oil is running out fast. …world oil reserves are being depleted three times as fast as they are being discovered”. The US government does not want to admit the reality of the situation, writes Vidal, but a group of ultra-conservative Swiss financiers has asked Colin Campbell, an author of the Peak Oil scenario, to tell them about the beginning of the end of the oil age. “The first half of the oil age now closes” Campbell is quoted as saying; “It lasted 150 years and saw the rapid expansion of industry, transport, trade, agriculture and financial capital, allowing the population to expand six-fold. The second half now dawns, and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends on it, including financial capital.” Now we didn’t discuss oil shocks at Doors 8 in Delhi, but we did hear Margrit Kennedy make a persuasive case that the world money system, too, is heading for collapse. (We’ve just re-posted a revised version of Professor Kennedy’s presentation). Now I don’t know if this is a reality check, or an unreality check, but on my office wall is a Guardian story from a few years back with the headline “Human life on the planet under threat”; the piece was run on page 13 of the paper under “International News”.

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Social Innovation Observatory ‘Emude” (European design research consortium, 2005-2007)

Someone, somewhere, has designed some of the services or situations that we will need in a sustainable society – so why repeat things? Novel ways to share food, move around, or care for each other, already exist – but they are often off the radar and therefore unavailable for the rest of us to copy or adapt.
Doors joined a Europe-wide research network, Emude, that was created to be an observatory of social innovation. An ongoing blog features cases of social innovation promising in terms of sustainable development.

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Happy in your work?

According to the City & Guilds Happiness Index hairdressers are the happiest workers in Britain: 40 percent say they are very content in their job (giving their careers a score of ten out of ten). Next in the happiness stakes are the clergy (24 percent ), chefs/cooks (23 percent ), beauticians (22 percent ), and plumbers, mechanics and builders (all 20 percent ). In contrast, only five percent of lawyers, IT specialists and secretaries/PAs, four percent of estate agents, three percent of civil servants and two percent of architects say they are extremely happy at work. Even that score seems doomed to plummet once architects learn how the C+G advises them to be happy in the workplace: “Enrich your working environment with photos and flowers”. Thanks to Archined for that one.

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It’s a material NYC

The US leg of my book tour for In The Bubble kicks off in New York on May 13. I’m speaking at an event called Malfatto: Imperfect Design for a Better World?. Material Connexion’s founder, George M. Beylerian, has invited an awesomely creative bunch of speakers: the architect/artist Gaetano Pesce; toy maker and sculptor Kardash Onnig; trend announcer Li Edelkoort; Scott Henderson, co-founder of Mint; James Ludwig, Director of Design for Steelcase; and Scott Wilson,Global Creative Director for Nike Explore. Then at the weekend (14/15 May) I’m taking part in Orange Alert, a season of events celebrating Dutch design organised by Robert Kloos.

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Nomadic Banquet

A reminder that among numerous archives of Doors 8 stuff not on this site is Debra Solomon’s Nomadic Banquet. We are still receiving presentations and other material which will be posted here in due course.

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Wireless Philly

Digital Cities Convention (May 2-4 in Philadelphia) is part of “a global thought-leadership series to accelerate the adoption of broadband wireless technologies for economic and social development worldwide”. According to a piece in, Philadelphia was chosen to launch the Convention in light of Wireless Philadelphiaâ„¢, an ambitious initiative to strengthen the city’s economy and transform its neighborhoods. The city’s Chief Information Officer Diana Neff says the idea is to provide wireless Internet access for the purpose of helping citizens, businesses, schools, community organizations and visitors make effective use of the wireless Internet. About 40% of Philadelphia’s population still has no access to broadband – and won’t anytime soon: those neighborhoods are not attractive to present service operators given current wired-technology infrastructure costs.

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One for the birds

Science tells us birds sing to attract mates and defend territories. But why do some birds make only a “peep” and others sing ornate songs that go on for hours? An intriguing event in New York on 16 April brings scientists together with musicians and poets to explore how different approaches have explored and made sense of bird song. David Rothenberg, a philosopher and musician, who has just published book WHY BIRDS SING (Basic Books), will host the event and present live examples of music he’s made live with actual birds, from the white-crested laughing thrush in the National Aviary to the Albert’s lyrebird in Australian rainforests. David’s guests include Don Kroodsma, who is among the most accomplished field biologists working on the intricacies of bird song; Ofer Tchernichovski, who has recorded every single sound a baby zebra finch makes during the two months he takes to learn his song, and then analyzed all this data using custom computer software; Alan Vardy, the leading expert on the poetry of John Clare, the British Romantic nineteenth century poet who best understood the rhythm and sense of the song of the nightingale; and biology professor Fredric Vencl,who wrote the only scientific paper published on the song of the white-crested laughing thrush.

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