Ninety nine percent of life, it turns out, is invisible - so how do we design for that? My guest in this conversation is microbiome researcher Dr. Suzanne Ishaq, founder of the Microbes and Social Equity working group
(Keynote talk in China): Even before AI came along, “what’s good for humans” helped shape an economy that extracts vitality, as well as resources, from the planet’s living systems. This cultural disconnection – between the living world, and the economic one – explains why we either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as natural ‘resources’ whose only purpose is to feed “the economy.”
Social Food Forum | The Internet of Things and Earth Repair | Design Agenda for Bioregions | Peak Car | Re-wilding the Bauhaus | The City as a Living System (a selection of my texts selected for publication by Resilience magazine)
The word ‘transformation’ sounds uncontroversial - but does any of us has the right to transform somebody else’s life without them being part of the process? (An interview at Alison Clarke's Victor Papanek exhibition in Barcelona)
A cultural disconnection between the man-made world and the biosphere lies behind the grave challenges we face today. We either don’t think about rivers, soils, and biodiversity at all – or we treat them as resources whose only purpose is to feed the economy. This ‘metabolic rift’ – between the [continue …]
Peak Car | Cloud Commuting | Gram Junkies | Green Tourism | Caloryville: The Two Wheeled City | From Bike Chain to Blockchain | From Autobahn to Bioregion | A Tale of Two Trains | From My Car to Scalar | Is an environmentally neutral car possible?
Photo: Michelle Cocking
In myriad projects around the world, a new economy is emerging whose core value is stewardship, not extraction. Growth, in this new story, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient. These seedlings are cheering, but [continue …]
Ugly Indians don’t blame their fellow citizens, or politicians, or ‘the system’: They act first, and then they talk. They make it “our” problem, not “your” problem.
The Tending and Grooming Station (below) is a wondrous collection of combs, brushes and other obscure (to me) gadgets. They are used to primp and revive pre-loved sweaters and cardigans that have been disfigured by bobbles and pilling – those unattractive fuzz balls that appear when short fibers misbehave on woolen garments.
A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem
The signs on the small van describe the services it supports: Taxi; Pick-up; Delivery; Assistance; Vendor; Security; Rental.
Seven [continue …]
In Sharing Energy In The City, EDF and the the French National Research Agency (ANR) have challenged designers to rethink the production, harvesting, distribution, use, exchange and consumption of energy in our everyday life. They asked me to submit this text as fuel for the discussion.
In China, ‘battery-bikes’ are outselling cars by four-to-one. Pedelec sales are soaring in Europe, too. Is this the start of system-wide phase-shift in transportation?
In fashion, despite more than 400 eco labels, an incremental ‘do less harm’ approach has addressed the symptoms, but not the principal cause, of our difficulties: an economy based on perpetual growth in a finite world. A new and global ‘leave things better’ politics affirms our co-dependency with living systems [continue …]
Including a physicist, a mathematician, an actuary, an ecologist, a stoic, and a Druid.
So you want to do good? Here's how to avoid the sloppy assumptions that can underly 'design for development'.
Yesterday’s G8 Dementia Summit made much of the fact that millions will now be spent in a race to identify a cure or a ‘disease-modifying therapy’ for dementia. The likely outcome will be the creation of a Dementia Industrial Complex – and the mass production of un-met expectations.A better way for [continue …]
“The global economy treats nature and material resources as if they were infinite, and knowledge as if it was scarce. We have to swap those two around”. (Michel Bauwens). Audio interview below the fold.
Having enshrined the rights of nature in its constitution (*) Ecuador is now exploring how this principle, [continue …]
Exhibits and competitions should be a means to an end, not the end itself. What would be a worthwhile end?
Packaged mass tours account for 80 percent of journeys to so-called developing countries, but destination regions receive five percent or less of the amount paid by the traveller. For local people on the ground, the injustice is absurd: if I were to pay e1,200 for a week long trek in [continue …]
[Illustration from http://www.hhs.gov/open/initiatives/hdi/]
By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has [continue …]
Over the ages we’ve invested huge amounts of effort and energy to keep cities and nature separate. What would it mean if that were about to change?
The term metabolic rift describes the alienation between humans and nature that opened up with the growth of the the modern economy. Could the growth of [continue …]
In Lars von Trier’s 2003 film Dogville (below) there is almost no set. Buildings in the town are represented by a series of white outlines on the floor. Dogville was a to-the-limit exercise in what von Trier calls ‘pure cinema’ – a commitment to use only real locations, and no special effects [continue …]
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, [continue …]
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?
Left: “The Hill Farmer” by Bedwyr Williams. Right: a [continue …]
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 [continue …]
5% 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 [continue …]
“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 [continue …]
If you’re in Paris before 24 July a spectacular exhibition called The Fertile City: Towards An Urban Nature is well worth a visit.
The show’s OTT poster does not over-promise. The exhibition explores nature in the city from multiple perspectives: historical, social, cultural, botanical, ecological. Two [continue …]
[Stop Press: Polydome has been shortlisted for the 2012 Buckminster Fukller Challenge]
A few years ago urban farming in developed cities was a fringe topic that few designers or architects thought much about. There were exceptions: we tried hard [but failed] to build a prototype of Natalie Jeremijenko’s Urban [continue …]