Economy


Observed
Charity Ball
A short film about Ethan King, a 15 year old from Michigan whose dream is to give soccer balls to kids all over the world.


Paul Polak
An Open Letter to Larry Page
Paul Polack responds to Larry Page's statemet that he'd rather hand over his cash to Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City) instead of donating it to a philanthropic organization.


John Thackara
A ‘Wild Mirror’ For Desk-Bound Workers
A new scheme in England connects office workers with living systems by means of a ‘wild mirror’: each workspace is twinned with an equivalent area of ecosystem regeneration.



John Thackara
Caloryville: The Two-Wheeled City
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?


John Thackara
Ecuador, Open Knowledge, and ‘Buen Vivir’: Interview With Michel Bauwens
John Thackara interviews Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation, is to lead a strategic policy project for Ecuador’s government called Free/Libre Open Knowledge (FLOK), also known as the social knowledge economy project.


John Thackara
Dementia: Care Before Cure
The downside of declaring war on a disease like dementia is to diminish social solidarity. But there are solutions.


Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.


Natalie Foster
Natalie Foster on Sharing
Natalie Foster is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Peers.



John Thackara
Between Sorrel And Supertanker
John Thackara reviews the recent Doors of Perception xskool.


Alexandra Lange
Rural Vacation | Urban Questions
Driving Vermont's rural routes I began to wonder: Why does this town get a brand-new energy-efficient supermarket, and that one a minimart-slash-video store-slash-bank?



Observed
Working For Free
A designer posts an ad on Craigslist for other professionals to provide work for free.


John Thackara
Trust Is Not An Algorithm
By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has got many people wondering: what to do with it?


John Thackara
Cycle Commerce As An Ecosystem
John Thackara reviews new products, services and ingredients needed to help a cycle commerce ecosystem flourish in India’s cities, towns and villages.


John Foster
Drawn to Currency
The Accidental Mystery of Tim Prusmack's hand drawn currency.


John Thackara
Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City
Dehli's many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs. How can that be traslated to European cities?


John Thackara
Healing The Metabolic Rift
John Thackara on the possibilities and issues global business leaders will face at the 2013 World Economic Forum.


John Thackara
Istanbul: City of Seeds
Rather than dream up exotic visions of “what could be”, an xskool looks for social and natural assets that already exist – and grows from there.


John Thackara
Design In The Light of Dark Energy
A shortened version of a talk on why the world has to reduce energy consumption, the five per cent energy solution and some of the people around the world who are leading the way.



John Thackara
A Reading List for Mr. Mario Monti
A (mostly) online list of readings for the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, and anyone else who is ready for a cold hard look at our energy resources and options.


Alexandra Lange
Who Are We Competing For?
At the "Zoning the City" conference, planners insisted cities were in competition? But why are we so focused on the people who want to leave, rather than those who want to stay?



Fred A. Bernstein
The Next World’s Fair: A Proposal
Fred Bernstein makes a case for New York City to be the host of the next World's Fair.



Julie Lasky
Everything Must Go
A new blog speaks to our current interest in shedding material goods.


John Thackara
From Eds & Meds to Farms and Watersheds
Eds & Meds behemoths that bestride Pittsburgh's skyline are not the only game in town. Even a small meadow contains a lot of plants.


John Thackara
From Bankster HQ to Start-up Central in Iceland
The Start-Up Kids is a documentary about young entrepreneurs who have founded web and media startups in the US and Europe.



Rob Walker
Fun Stuff
A result of the wrenching economic downturn is that we just don’t care about stuff anymore.



Rob Walker
Rob Walker’s Collection of Bicentennial Quarters
Rob Walker shares his collection of bicentennial quarters.



Alexandra Lange
“We Can’t Really Pay”
All of you print people who scorned bloggers but have moved into blogging and helm publications that “blog,” earth to you: You don’t pay.



Rob Walker
Valuing $0
Lewis Hyde wrote The Gift decades ago for an audience of artists, writers and other people who create. Chris Anderson, cited Hyde’s work in his book Free, published last year.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: Sustainable Food and Childhood Obesity
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Sustainable Food Project focused on accelerating the shift from a global, abstract food system to a regional, real food system via a robust portfolio of activities — including a grand challenge and a series of youth-engagement programs.



Dmitri Siegel
Lost In the Supermarket
Dmitri Siegel gets lost in the Supermarket and encounters incredibly grippy toothbushes, spouts, nozzles, Thorstein Veblen and Adolf Loos.



Allison Arieff
WeCommune
WeCommune offers a technology platform for people who want to share resources and build community within particular subcultures.



Michael Erard
A Short Manifesto on the Future of Attention
Maybe we should be considering a dilemma of a human nature: the future of attention.



John Thackara
Fish Systems and Design
Though gloomy predictions say we could see the end of seafood by 2048, several initiatives are rethinking the way we acquire fish.



Kurt Andersen, Julie Lasky, and Douglas Rushkoff
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff: Part II
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff continue their discussion of the future in light of the current economic calamity.



Julie Lasky, Douglas Rushkoff, and Kurt Andersen
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff: Part I
Kurt Andersen and Douglas Rushkoff discuss the future in light of the current economic calamity.



John Thackara
From Philanthrocapitalism to An Eco-Social Economy
"Design for social impact" is a very troubling phrase.



Debbie Millman
Gong Szeto
Former principal of the interaction design firm io360, Gong Szeto is Director of design and product design at Peak6 Investments.



Mark Lamster
Seattle PI: RIP
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was founded 146 years ago, when that city was an industrial backwater on Elliot Bay, a timber town with more logs than people.



Mark Lamster
Save the Library Redux
Could it be that the sour economy is the best friend of the good old library?



Mark Lamster
Who Needs Two?
In this brutal economy, the Yankees have enlisted Prudential Douglas Elliman to help them move high-end seats at their new stadium.



Rob Walker
Talk is Cheap
As the financial crisis snowballed this year, retail sales fell sharply. Curiously, many assessments of this development treated it as an exciting new trend.



Gong Szeto
Lehman's Bankruptcy Statement
I'm just a designer, but it doesn't take a genius to read a bankruptcy statement. Take a look at the Lehman Brothers statement dated Sunday, September 14, 2008. Read the whole thing down to exhibit A and the list of creditors — this is an historical document.



John Thackara
Alternative Trade Networks and the Coffee System
Alterative trade networks are emerging in the coffee industry, attempting to eliminate the middle man.



Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken, Part 2
Grant McCracken PhD, author and a research affiliate at MIT.



Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken, Part 1
Grant McCracken PhD, is an author and a research affiliate at MIT.



Observed | February 20

The Batbot Xtreme takes toy design to another level. [MPL]

Gerald Haltom‘s original 1958 sketches for the peace symbol. [MB]

Ugly buildings always photograph better at night (and other confessions of a former design magazine editor). [MB]

How Steven Heller redefined the design world. [MB]

Happy President‘s Day...? Ten times that Trump stirred up the design and architecture world. (And counting.) [MPL]


Observed | February 17

As the White House aims to stifle climate science, cities cooperate globally and plan locally, standing up to climate change. [BV]

The crude, vulgar, and celebrated art of Jean Dubuffet. [MPL]

Donald Judd on the relationship of artists and politics, 1970. [MB]

The most despised piece of furniture in the world has a name: Peggy. [MB]


Observed | February 16

The Statue of Liberty was modeled after an Arab woman. [MB]

Pratt Institute President Tom Schutte is the recipient of the 21st Rowena Reed Kostellow Award. [JH]

Why symbols matter. [MB]

Detroit, Design and the Future of Work—Detroit’s first exhibition as a UNESCO City of Design  [BV]

A Bug‘s Life meets Mulan and takes the form of this chair. [MPL]

Why do we have Wingdings and Dingbats? This short video explains all! [MB]


Observed | February 15

In the New Yorker this week, Design Observer contributor Rob Walker reviews the new Netflix series on design. [JH]

Charles and Ray Eames: a remembrance. [JH]

Fast Company‘s list of 2017‘s most innovative companies is out! [MPL]

What does industrialization look like? Take an aerial view.. [MPL]

Vasjen Katroi, a designer in Albania, makes a poster a day for a year. [JH]

Can corporate culture be designed? [JH]


Observed | February 14

Ikea’s best designed product of all time, according to it’s design chief. [JH]

If “design” becomes a synonym for “negotiate” we’re all in trouble. [JH]


Observed | February 13

“Almost alone among his countrymen, Johnson carried off his noxious politics with style.” Philip Johnson and the new American Fascism. [MB]

Journalist, curator, and longtime Head of Design at the V&A in London, Kieran Long is named Director of the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design. [JH]

From The Atlantic, a deep dive into Apple’s flawless design aesthetic—and why it may just be a myth. [JH]

Madeline Stuart, who has Down Syndrome, designs and launches her own fashion line. [JH]


Observed | February 10

Timely explainer: what does the US Department of Housing and Urban Development actually do? [MB]

Creative dissent is central to political change. [MPL]

Ads, shorts, and the creative process of PES. (You have to watch “Fresh Guacamole.” You just have to.) [MPL]



Jobs | February 20