Home2022-07-28T11:53:00+00:00

Entretien avec Domus Magazine

Here is the French version of my interview with Valentina Croci of Domus Magazine, When Value Arises From Relationships, Not From Things / Translation by Annelies Hollewand.   Q1 : Le modèle consumériste et nos ressources fossiles ont atteint leurs limites. Quel modèle de production alternatif pourrions-nous imaginer ?   JT : J’en suis venu à une conclusion gênante : la production n’est pas un objectif de vie. Je dis gênante, car nous sommes nombreux à dépendre de la production industrielle et ses énergies fossiles pour assurer nos besoins du quotidien. L’économie mondiale doit croître pour survivre : sa faim d’énergie et de matériaux est donc insatiable. Ce besoin de ressources est également dû à une complexité croissante du système ... [continue ...]

October 7th, 2021|Categories: [no topic]|

How AI might be used to enhance local knowledge

Indigenous peoples have a closer relationship with the ecologies of their land than those who practice ‘production agriculture’. But their intimate, fine-grained knowledge can always be enhanced. Sarah Kaushik (above) describes a system in which biodata collected from plants could be ‘heard’ by the farmer as music I wrote the Foreword (below) to a new book called Decentralising Digital. The project explores the possible roles that mesh networks, the Internet of Things, voice enabled Internet, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, might play in enhancing ecological agriculture. The design brief: how to enhance the farmers’ ability to understand the health of their soil, and their care for biodiversity. The project is a joint venture between Quicksand Design Studio in India, and ... [continue ...]

September 11th, 2021|Categories: [no topic]|

The Anthroponaut’s Wordbook, by Karin Fink. A prologue

The following is my prologue to The Anthroponaut's Wordbook, by Karin Fink, which has just been published by Postmedia Books. The scale of the societal and environmental challenges we face can be debilitating. Feeling powerless to change the course of events, the inclination to switch off can feel like self-defence. Karin Fink’s response is both nimble and wise. Rather than confront the enormity of unfolding events head-on, she sets out to start conversations and foster relationships - one at a time. Rather than re-draw the whole picture at a stroke, her focus in this book is on small connections, and how to enhance them. This approach to connections and relationships echoes the words of Ilya Prigogene, a founder of ... [continue ...]

September 10th, 2021|Categories: [no topic]|

Re-wilding the Bauhaus: what its foundation course should be like today

To mark its centenary year, the Bauhaus published Design Rehearsals: Conversations About Bauhaus Lessons. My contribution was a response to images from Oskar Schlemmer's class on 'The Human'. I'm re-posting it now on the occasion of the @BauhausSeas launch event on 20 May. No textbook for the new foundation course exists - which is probably just as well. The course is better thought of as a journey, than as a body of knowledge. The journey is neither short, nor easy. Its destination cannot be known in advance. No pathway has been laid to ease our way. And the autonomous individual is no longer the focus of the story. “Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks” writes ... [continue ...]

May 18th, 2021|Categories: Reviews|

Cities as Lifeworlds

Ahead of a talk in Milan at the Politecnico di Milano, I was interviewed about relational ecology and design Q: Sometimes “sustainable” ways of living are often more expensive. They are more elite, how can we make them more accessible? A: Good question. Food is an obvious example, but many ‘green’ products and services seem to be more expensive than other products with similar performance. The near future means: a) focus on local and direct relationships between producers and users; and b) eliminate most marketing, branding and packaging. They add cost to the transaction but don’t add value to the product itself! Q: How can we make local initiatives global? A: Why would we want (or need) to do that? ... [continue ...]

April 8th, 2021|Categories: [no topic]|

john chris jones and ‘designing designing’

Its publisher, Bloomsbury, describes designing designing as “one of the most extraordinary books on design ever written”. It’s therefore welcome news that – after a period out of print – this classic book has now been reissued. (That’s my copy in the photograph above; it just arrived). The following text is included as an afterword. It was written by me to celebrate jones’s The Internet and Everyone in 2000, and was then republished on the occasion of his 90th birthday. I’ve been rereading The Internet and Everyone by john chris jones. I’ve been astonished once again by the sensibility of an artist-writer- designer whose philosophy – indeed his whole life – first inspired me when I was a young magazine ... [continue ...]

March 11th, 2021|Categories: [no topic]|

The relationship of my texts to a dead fish

The following is a conversation with John Wood, professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, and joint editor (with Julia Lockheart) of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. Please cite: Thackara, John (2021), ‘The relationship of texts to dead fish’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 14:1, pp. 5–11, doi: doi.org Keywords: relational ecology; theory of change; stories; embodied experience; biodiversity; ecosystem; civic ecology; bioregion; design; social fermentation Abstract John Thackara’s theory of change is borrowed from Ilya Prigogene: ‘when a system is far from equilibrium, small islands of coherence have the capacity to shift the entire system’. As a writer, he explains, his work therefore involves a search for small islands of coherence – that he can later describe ... [continue ...]

March 4th, 2021|Categories: [no topic]|

Sensory Orders

illustration: Ania Zoltkowski For an exhibition called Sensory Orders at Laznia Centre for Contemporary Arts, in Gdansk, 32 artists, designers and writers were asked: “What sensory conditions are you are working with under present conditions? What sensory orders do you see emerging in the social-political environment around us?” My theory of change is borrowed from Ilya Prigogene: “When a system is far from equilibrium, small islands of coherence have the capacity to shift the entire system”. As a writer, my work therefore involves a search for small islands of coherence – that I can later describe – in which social and ecological relationships thrive together. My aim as a curator is similar: I strive to enable embodied encounters ... [continue ...]

December 5th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

Bottom-up Biodiversity

Whether connecting schools to farms in France, daylighting rivers in Mexico, or rewilding grasslands in Patagonia, we’re learning how to ‘do’ biodiversity well. Fifteen minute read. Illustration © BAFU | Pierre Dubois, collectif Marie-Louise This text was commissioned by the Swiss Ministry of the Environment, FOEN. It is also available online in these other languages: German Biodiversität nach dem Bottom-up-Prinzip Italian Biodiversità dal basso verso l’alt French Biodiversité : une politique de terrain https://umwelt-schweiz.ch/fr/innovations/john-thackara Chinese wuidub “The world has failed to arrest the steep decline of nature. The world must act fast to avert catastrophe”. These recent headlines have been dispiriting – but they are also misleading. High Level Meetings and international summits may indeed be an imperfect model of ... [continue ...]

November 27th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

Interview with BBC Mundo

(in Spanish only) Coronavirus | “Una de las locuras que se ha apoderado de Norteamérica y Europa es el pánico que les entra cuando las cosas van mal”: entrevista con el filósofo John Thackara William Marquez BBC News Mundo 16 junio 2020 John Thackara es un filósofo y autor británico que se ha embarcado en varias profesiones y actividades, desde periodista, editor, diseñador, conferencista, asesor, profesor y hasta productor de eventos. Pero se distingue más como agente provocador de ideas alternativas para un nuevo modo de vida. Durante más de 30 años ha viajado por el mundo recopilando ejemplos de las medidas prácticas que diferentes sociedades a nivel local y comunitario han tomado para realizar un futuro sostenible. Muchas de ... [continue ...]

June 16th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

A “Marshall Plan for tourism” – but with what aim? (20 minute talk)

EU Commissioner @ThierryBreton promises a “Marshall Plan for tourism” – but with what aim? In this talk, I propose a new storyin which the design of new urban-rural relationships creates value by leaving places healthier. Video: https://youtube.com/watch?v=bwKtab The concept of sustainable tourism was invented 45 years ago – but it was added to global mass tourism, it did not replace it. Since then, although sustainable tourism brands have proliferated, mass tourism has continued to devastate its ‘destinations’ with growing intensity. Until Covid. It’s tempting, post-Covid, to welcome the grounding of the world’s climate-destroying aircraft. But in Europe alone, the fate of 27 million jobs, & three million small firms, are also on the line. Our story, going forward, must include them. EU Commissioner @ThierryBreton promises a ... [continue ...]

May 19th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

Urban-Rural: The New Geographies of Innovation

This is the text of my plenary talk at the Innovation and Emerging Industry Development (IEID) conference in Shanghai on 18 September 2019. I describe three enabling conditions for system change: a capacity for ecological thinking; a focus on social infrastructure (rather than the concrete kind); and a shift of focus from place making, to place connecting. 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 of meaning and ... [continue ...]

May 15th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

Articles in Resilience

Here is a collection of texts by John Thackara selected by Resilience magazine. How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Preface to the Chinese edition This book is not about pre-cooked solutions. It’s about building on what has already been done, in our various social and cultural histories, and on what’s being done, right now, in diverse contexts around the world. (May 2019) Re-wilding the Bauhaus: What its Foundation Course Should be like Today No textbook for the new foundation course exists – which is probably just as well. The course is better thought of as a journey, than as a body of knowledge. (April 2019) Social Food Forum: The Takeaways In the language of public policy – which determines ... [continue ...]

May 14th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

The City as a Living System: A Design Research Agenda

This is the text of my plenary talk at the Design x Collaborative Cities conference, 28 and 29 October 2018, Shanghai. It was hosted by the College of Design and Innovation (D&I) at Tongji University, where I am a visiting professor, and DESIS Network. (Here is the 25 minute video). The industrial age distracted us from a whole-systems understanding of the world. Paving over the soil, and filling our lives with media, obscured our interdependency with living systems. The creation of cities that are habitable for all of life, not just human life, will determine the future relevance of design research. We must learn to think of the places where we live as ecosystems, not as machines. We need to ... [continue ...]

May 13th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|

From Oil Age to Soil Age: Pathways to Sustainability

On the occasion of my lecture (with the above title) at the Design Museum of Barcelona, during the Victor Papanek exhibition, I was interviewed about relational design, the potential for social and ecological transformation, and the mixed blessings of terms such as ‘future’ or ‘resilience’ Q: You define yourself as a bioregional designer. What does this mean? JT: During my professional career, I’ve been trying to understand why all the arguments about the damage we’re doing to the planet have never stuck. What I’ve understood is that we had been having discussions in a very abstract sense about words such as ‘sustainability’, which don’t necessarily touch us in our daily lives. There’s a metabolic gap between the natural and the ... [continue ...]

May 12th, 2020|Categories: [no topic]|
Go to Top