Design Observer Twenty Years 2003-2023

John Thackara | Essays

"In The Bubble" Special [May 2005]

This free monthly newsletter starts conversations on issues to do with design for resilience — and thereby reveals opportunities for action. It also brings you news of Doors of Perception events and encounters. Back issues are now archived on Design Observer. To subscribe to future newletters by John Thackara click here.

First, because my publisher's parent institution, MIT, saw the value of its endowment decline by a billion dollars during the dotcom crash. As a result they (my otherwise wonderful publisher) feel too poor to spend a million bucks promoting a book. Second, didn't you hear? The "new economy" has been superceded by the "self-service economy". Normal editorial service in this newsletter will resume in June.

The book is about designing a world that is based less on stuff, and more on people. It describes a transformation that is taking place now - not in a remote science fiction future. An optimistic book, it argues that we are regaining respect for what people can do, that technology can't. Its ten chapters are entitled: Lightness. Speed. Mobility. Place. Space. Conviviality. Learning. Literacy. Smartness. Flow. There are are three bibliographies. And the Index contains five entries for "Control" and 28 for "Context".

The book has its own website. It contains a summary of the book; three extracts; an interview with the author; a link to Fast Company (where it's book of the month); plus a number of endorsements - or "shouts" as they are called in the book trade - which were all cravenly solicited. The best way to obtain an independent evaluation is to buy your own copy. Publication dates: 28 April in the US, 27 May in UK/Europe.


NEW YORK Thursday 12 May.
6.30pm-8.30pm. Celebration drink to launch the In The Bubble US tour. Hosted by Doug Sery (MITP) and Colin Robinson. At the new Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, New York.

NEW YORK Friday 13 May
"Malfatto: Imperfect Design For A Better World?" Conference at Tishman Auditorium, NYC . Material Connexion's founder, George M. Beylerian, has also invited the architect/artist Gaetano Pesce; toy maker and sculptor Kardash Onnig; trend announcer Li Edelkoort; Scott Henderson, co-founder of Mint; James Ludwig, Director of Design for Steelcase; and Scott Wilson,Global Creative Director for Nike Explore.

NEW YORK Sunday 15 May
Design Downtown 10.30am - 11.30am. Brief, lively and interesting presentations on "the business of design" accompanied by fresh coffee and Krispy Kremes. Features Robert Kloos (Consulate General of The Netherlands), Sina Djafari (partner in Edge, Modern and Public Design), et moi. Event location: Drive-In Studios, 443 West 18th Street. Seating is limited so please call +1 212 352 9968 to reserve a place. Or contact: susan at

BOSTON Monday 16 May
5.30pm MIT. Building 34 Room 101 (sic). T: 617 253-5249 or email: Colleen Lanick colleenl at MIT.EDU

Reading and Signing 6:00 pm at Stanford University Bookstore, 519 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, California. T: 650 329-1217

PALO ALTO Wednesday 18 May
12:00 noon IDEO "KnowHow" talk, introduced by Bill Moggridge. At IDEO's meeting space: 831 High Street, Palo Alto. Contact: Scott Underwood (scott at, T: 650 289 3409.

SEATTLE Thursday 19 May 5:30pm Reading and Signing at Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 South Main Street, Seattle, Washington. T: 206 624-6600

SEATTLE, Friday 20 May
7:00pm Reading and Signing, University Bookstore, 4326 University Way, Seattle, Washington. T: 206 634-3400

HELSINKI Wednesday 25 May
University of Art and Design Seminar: "What type of communities does digital media shape - physical or virtual". Hämeentie 135 C, FIN-00560 Helsinki
6pm Book Signing, Arabianranta.
Contact: Sari Väänänen sari.vaananen at

HELSINKI Thursday 26 May.
6pm Reading and Signing, Kiasma.

HAY ON WYE Tuesday 31 May
Tuesday 10.00h. The Guardian Hay Festival . 25 Lion St, Hay-on-Wye,
HR3 5AD. T: +44 870 787 2848
Media contact: Sophie Rochester Sophie at

LONDON Wednesday 1 June.
16.00h (tea) for 16.30 (talk): "Designing In A Complex World". Hosted by Robin Murray, RED Unit, the Design Council, Bow Street, London. To reserve a seat, please email Jude Codner:
JudeC at 0207 420 5216

GLASGOW Thursday 2 June.
The Lighthouse (with Urban Learning Space).
Contact: stuart at

BREDA, NL. Wednesday 15 June
A national debate between cultural leaders, investors and policy makers. With Hedy van Van der Laan (culture minister), Rene Hoogendoorn (investor, ING) and John Thackara (author). 9.00 to 18.00 "somewhere in the industrial area behind the station". Contact:
mrp.warendorff at

BERGEN, NORWAY. Wednesday 5 October
Bergen National Academy of Arts. Conference: Hybrid Art & Design Practice.
Contact: Professor Jeremy Welsh jjw at / jeremyjwelsh at

LONDON Friday 14 October
Global Design Critical Debate. At the V&A. Rem Koolhaas and John Thackara. Chaired by Joe Kerr. 2.00pm - 5.00pm. Book now on +44 870 906 3883 or:

1. Ask your company, college, or local library to buy a copy:
2. Mention it in your blog:
3. Tell two friends about it:
4. Suggest to one journalist that she consider reviewing it:
5. Write a review of it at Amazon:
6. Humbly submit a story about it to Slashdot:

Comments [1]

I have been to the Lighthouse before as part of a historic exhibition at 200 SVS in Glasgow.

This was in a small lane central, cant imagine its the same one for this exhibition.

Jobs | October 01