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 | January 20

Five months after becoming director of the Museum of Arts and Design, Jorge Daniel Veneciano is stepping down on Jan. 31 to turn his attention to the cultural sector. [JH]

From Portland-based designer Ilisha Helfman, a color palette tool for fountain pens with a custom-cut Canson paper top so you can make notes for each pen or sample ink vial. [JH]

On this historic day in America, as we struggle to honor truth, tolerance, and a deeply uncertain future, let us remember that inclusiveness is not only a matter of race and gender and nationality, but also a question of mutual respect and cross-disciplinary freedom. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: doctors who create! [JH]

The day has come. Here’s a reading list for designers in Trump‘s America. [MPL]

“Taking cues from the Girl Scouts, Soviet-era Constructivism, the WPA, and Kara Walker…” Behind the branding of the Women’s March on Washington. [MB]


Observed | January 19

Design as a proactive response to disaster, and the challenges for climate change. [JH]

In a design exploration that has taken nearly two years and six significant iterations of the prototype—during which the app’s usage has grown eightfold to 4 million daily active users—Slack introduces threaded conversations. Meanwhile, Mozilla (remember them, before Netscape?) introduces a revamped design identity. [JH]

In the US, nuclear plant design goes modular. [JH]

The lost signs of Montreal. [MB]

Paula Scher, Christoph Niemann and more visionary designers: coming soon on Netflix. Watch the trailer here! [JH]

Apple vs.Samsung: it‘s not over! [JH]

Design, detente—and defiance. [JH]

“Trump sits for hours with architects and designers, instinctively pointing to what he likes and doesn’t like.” The President-elect as design client. Sad! [JH]


Observed | January 18

“They’re the spiritual successors to the visual metaphors of early graphical user interfaces, but there’s a big difference between an icon shaped like a trash can and the tilt of a robotic eyebrow.” Visualizing AI—and why it may not be as ‘user-friendly’ as you’d think. [JH]

Trump, His Gilded Taste, and Me, a strange and prescient piece by the late Herbert Muschamp (via Paul Goldberger). [MB]

From the Department of Thespian Schadenfreude: when good actors have bad auditions. (Spoiler alert: they’re still pretty good.) [JH]

From The Amplifier Foundation—an extraordinary initiative that needs to be funded, now—before it’s too late. [JH]

From our friends at Continuum, a cogent, level-headed argument explaining why so many corporate-level design thinking initiatives are inevitably doomed to failure. [JH]

Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena launch a campaign to fund public art to protest the inauguration and beyond. [MB]


Observed | January 17

Extraordinary motion graphics from the French motion graphics genius Maxime Causeret, with music by Max Cooper. [JH]

The long lost connection between and Marilyn Monroe’s most famous scene and Design Observer’s own Bonnie Siegler. [MB]

Juventus—an Italian soccer team— reveals its pared down, minimalist new logo. You know what happens next. [JH]

“I want to create new things.” A New York Times profile of legendary book designer Irma Boom. [MB]

Peter Mendelsund on family, memory, and W.G. Sebald. [MB]

The suit is dead. Long live the suit! [JH]


Observed | January 16

V&A Head Designer Annabel Judd is taking on science. And here’s what’s happening Stateside. [JH]

Wells Fargo rejects a Black Lives Matter debit card. [JH]

Richard Prince disavows his appropriated Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump and returns the money they paid him for it. [MB]


Observed | January 13

Yves Béhar designs a robot for the elderly he’s calling a “companion”. [JH]

Mr. Poopie explores the uncanny visual relationship between poop and ice cream. (Via Modes of Criticism.) [MB]



Jobs | January 23