From Control, to Kinship: Ecological Restoration in a More Than Human World

The following is a transcript of my keynote talk on 29 May at Quantum(Quantum(Quantum()))): Artificial Imagination – the 2022 aai International Conference on art(ai) hosted by Tongji University in Shanghai.

The video is here. Six months ago, in a talk titled Beyond Calculation, about AI and Sustainability, I asked whether artificial intelligence could be … [continue …]

2022-07-27T12:55:15+00:00June 10th, 2022|Knowing, transition & design|

How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Preface to the Chinese edition

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 living world, and the economic one – leaves us starved … [continue …]

2019-05-20T19:15:55+00:00October 31st, 2018|Commoning, development & design, Knowing, most read, Urban-Rural|

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It

Five years ago I obtained an extraordinary 736 page book called Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It. Written over a thirty year period by the English ecologist David Fleming, the book had been published in a limited edition after the author’s untimely death. Now, thanks to an heroic, expert and loving effort by editor … [continue …]

2016-09-01T12:16:38+00:00August 30th, 2016|Knowing, perception, transition & design|

Bill Moggridge

Devastating news reaches me that Bill Moggridge has died.

Many readers here will know that Bill Moggridge had been director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, since 2010, and this was the latest chapter … [continue …]

2012-10-04T14:17:10+00:00September 9th, 2012|Knowing|

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 look at this chart.

… [continue …]

2015-06-21T20:24:33+00:00February 21st, 2011|Knowing|

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 models of design education that … [continue …]

2012-04-02T16:18:13+00:00February 19th, 2011|Knowing, most read|

Next-generation biennials

I just got back from Oslo where their Architecture Triennial has opened. I participated in its main conference, Man Made Tomorrow and will report on that event soon. But ahead of the conference, Bjarne Ringstad, curator of the Triennial, asked me to reflect on how the role of such set-piece events might … [continue …]

2016-05-28T18:02:58+00:00September 26th, 2010|Knowing|

High entropy? Moi?

When I first came to Tokyo, fashionable parts of the city would be lined with hundreds of heavy taxis sitting in queues with their engines running, for hours on end. Every powered item was always on, 24/7. Tokyo Metropolitan Government has passed a law against idling cars – but this hall of mirrors atrium … [continue …]

2009-11-01T21:09:54+00:00November 1st, 2009|Knowing|

Make sense, not stuff: A three step plan to connect design schools with the green economy

[I was asked to write a text about the green economy by Cumulus, the international network of design schools. It will published at their forthcoming conference in London (27-30 May). This is a preview].
What would architects design, if they did not design buildings? What would designers design, if they did not design products, or posters?
My question is … [continue …]

2012-04-02T16:19:26+00:00March 31st, 2009|Knowing, most read|

Space, time and childhood

“When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere. It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision. Fast forward to 2007 and Mr Thomas’s eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys … [continue …]

2008-04-14T07:10:58+00:00April 14th, 2008|Knowing|

How to teach no-product product design

In an excellent piece in Metropolis , Peter Hall argues that “design schools need to rethink how they teach product design.” The subject is booming, Hall writes, and yet the world is filled with terrible products: cars that kill two people every minute; airport X-ray machines that consume more time than Tardis, and … [continue …]

2007-05-11T07:29:32+00:00May 11th, 2007|Knowing|

India’s new design policy

When I first visited India 20 years ago, the country had fewer design teachers for a population of more than a billion people than had Wales – whose population is three million. The supply of teachers seemed to be stuck because India had just one national public design school: the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad.
NID had (and has) … [continue …]

2007-02-12T06:32:56+00:00February 12th, 2007|Knowing|

Wanted: designer of a dreamy den or a tantalising tent

The culmination of Dott07’s year in North East England (where Doors is programming the content) will be a festival in October to celebrate the achievements, challenges and experiences of all those who have taken part in projects. Our dream for the Festival location is that it will inspire people to enter, and empower them, once inside, to engage with … [continue …]

2007-02-09T16:10:02+00:00February 9th, 2007|Knowing|

School out of school

Over the next 15 years, 3,500 UK schools will be rebuilt or refurbished in a seventy billion pound (110 billion euro) programme called Building Schools for the Future (BSF). The problem, as Joe Heapy explained to a meeting last week of the Dott 07 Explorers Club, is that “BSF is so huge, that most people within it are … [continue …]

2006-10-15T03:53:10+00:00October 15th, 2006|Knowing|

The coming shake-out in design education

The new Coroflot, launched by Allan Chochinov and his colleagues this week, boasts a staggering 33,000 design portfolios and more than 135,000 registered users. Gross visitor numbers to Coroflot (and its sister site, Core77 ) are many times higher than that. A major attraction is Coroflot’s steady flow of job postings, updated by the minute.
I’m convinced that sites … [continue …]

2006-07-19T09:33:40+00:00July 19th, 2006|Knowing|

Social Silicon Valleys

The Young Foundation has published a manifesto for social innovation Written by a team led by Geoff Mulgan, Social Silicon Valleys compares the vast investments made each year in scientific R&D (nearly 12 billion euros of public spending on R&D in the UK alone) with the piecemeal and marginal investment that is made in social innovation. The pamphlet warns … [continue …]

2006-06-15T07:00:13+00:00June 15th, 2006|Knowing|

Design transformation

What, in broad terms, is happening to design right now? According to a new paper from RED in London, we are experiencing two important shifts: Firstly, in where design skills are being applied; and secondly, in who is doing the designing. A new discipline is emerging, they say, that builds on traditional design skills to address social and economic … [continue …]

2006-04-10T15:26:36+00:00April 10th, 2006|Knowing|


I thought I’d escaped from the quicksands of of learning-speak when I completed the chapter on learning (which nearly did me in) for my book. But no! A new tsunami of learning lingo is upon us. Teachers having been exhausted by years of enforced modernisation, the hapless victims this time round are Britiain’s museums and libraries. Inspiring … [continue …]

2006-01-31T11:05:25+00:00January 31st, 2006|Knowing|

Stress @ education

Britain’s unhealthy obsession with formal education appears to be stressing out the country’s youngest children. A recent story in The Guardian reports that toddlers starting at nursery, after being at home since birth, experience high levels of stress in the first weeks after separating from their mothers, and are still showing “chronic mild stress” as long as five … [continue …]

2005-10-28T10:17:51+00:00October 28th, 2005|Knowing|

Jan Verwijnen

I received the extremely sad news from Helsinki that Jan Verwijnen has died, following a serious illness, at the age of 56. Many Doors people will know of Jan as leader of the Spark! project that we participated in not long ago. Sparkl! was an inspirational experience that reflected Jan’s insatiable curiosity towards new phenomena. He read, … [continue …]

2005-10-23T13:50:02+00:00October 23rd, 2005|Knowing|

Design and the growth of knowledge

In this one-morning symposium on November 10, three eminent researchers discuss designing as form of research. Brenda Laurel, Gillian Crampton-Smith, and Kun-Pyo Lee will look at the ways design generates knowledge which can be used beyond the product at hand and thereby generate wholly new ideas. The event is hosted by the Technical University of Delft (Professor Pieter Jan Stappers) … [continue …]

2005-10-04T08:29:15+00:00October 4th, 2005|Knowing|

What innovation sounds like

“Quiet in class!”. Silent attention to Teacher’s every word was the required mode of interaction when I was at school. Only speak when spoken to. Teachers themselves were judged by the quietness of their workspace; a noisy classroom meant they were not in sufficient control. All that seems to be changing. Prowling school inspectors now like to hear the babble … [continue …]

2005-09-12T08:28:52+00:00September 12th, 2005|Knowing|

Toys for the boys?

A mesmerising shopping list of new ‘research infrastructures’ has been sent to the the European Commission by a committee of top scientists. These new toys – sorry, ‘tools’ – range from an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) for optical astronomy, to a research icebreaker called Aurora Borealis, and a facility for antiproton and ion research called FAIR. The price … [continue …]

2005-08-31T10:14:03+00:00August 31st, 2005|Knowing|

Cooperative multiplatform warfare

What exactly is an ‘information society’ and do we want to live in one? The European Commission has published a new plan, called i2010 for ‘the completion of a Single European Information Space’. The Commission proposes an 80% increase in funding for ICT research focused on areas where Europe has recognised strengths: nanoelectronics, embedded systems, communications, and … [continue …]

2005-08-30T08:00:42+00:00August 30th, 2005|Knowing|

What they made and what they think

The catalogues published by design schools when students graduate are frequently over-designed, under-edited, and consequently hopeless as communication tools. A welcome exception is MAID from the industrial design masters programme at Central Saint Martins in London. I was able to find out from it what the tutors and students are thinking, as well as see what they had designed. … [continue …]

2005-06-18T18:24:35+00:00June 18th, 2005|Knowing|

Now listen good

My parents have been plagued by a rising volume of junk telephone calls from telemarketing outfits. Imagine my incredulity when I saw on the BBC this morning that one of the leading firms calls itself The Listening Company. One of the people we have to thank for the plague of telemarketing is Martin Williams who, the firm’s website … [continue …]

2005-06-17T11:29:15+00:00June 17th, 2005|Knowing|
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