Social Good

Kathleen Meaney
Wing It: Testing Out Exhibit Design Using Virtual Reality
The field of environmental (or experiential) graphic design is young and on fire.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 77: Cape to California
Cape Town’s water crisis, Los Angeles’ first chief design officer, Lubalin 100, Walter Dorwin Teague’s Design This Day


Steven Heller
Victims of the Image: Yellow Peril
Visual hazing in popular art and design of Asians was long maintained for different purposes.


Komal Sharma
What's Old is New Again
How computational design and long-standing traditions can work hand in hand.


Ashleigh Axios
A Standards Manual Reprinted With a New Purpose
Can we go back to the 1977 awareness and ensure the protection of the EPA’s legacy and the environment it protects?


Cheryl Heller
Conflict as a Tool For Social Change
To be passionate about change requires unconquerable optimism, fed by a vision of the better thing ahead.


Mariana Amatullo
People to People ­­: Fresh Eyes on a Changing Cuba
The power of visual metaphor and design’s aesthetic dimension as a way forward for cultural rapprochement and social transformation.


Cheryl Heller
A Definition Five Years in the Making
What we mean when we say “design for social innovation”


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S1E1: John Bielenberg
John Bielenberg is a designer, entrepreneur and imaginative advocate for a better world.



Adam Harrison Levy
The Wood Stacker
All his work, from cutting the wood during the summer, to stacking it in early fall, through to burning it in the winter freed him from a dependency on oil. His heat is local.


Timothy Young
Dispatch from La Lagunilla
Where old design treasures are the new new


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Domestic Interior by Nicole Bachmann
Design for everyday life?


Debbie Millman
Doug Powell
On this episode Debbie talks to Doung Powell about how designers can use their skills beyond the confines of the profession.



Debbie Millman
Robin Petravic + Catherine Bailey
Debbie talks with Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey about running Heath Ceramics.


52-Blue
(in)Fringe 04: Dissident Noise
Ai Weiwei in Alcatraz



Bryan Finoki
Architecture vs. the People
How anti-homeless measures diminish a city’s responsibility to its most vulnerable citizens


Debbie Millman
Morley
On this episode of Design Matters Debbie Millman talks to Morley about her songs of social change.



Sara Jamshidi
Black Hand: Iranian Banksy?
Black Hand is one of the numerous underground artists in Iran and his exhibition is neither the first nor the last underground exhibition.



Observed
Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award
Sylvia Harris is widely recognized as a pioneer, a generous mentor and a vital inspiration to the field of social impact design. In that spirit, the Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award has been established to honor her legacy by supporting other vanguards dedicated to public design.


Adam Harrison Levy
The Last Unknown Place in New York
If you want to see a version of the future you could try to take a boat to an island off the coast of the Bronx.



Observed
More Botany
Avery Thatcher is one of the emerging designers from the oft-lauded creative class in Portland, Oregon.


Laura Tarrish
Hunter | Gatherer: Botanicals
Each of us has a connection to nature — a primal response to certain landscapes — yet we don’t always use it as raw material for our own work.



John Thackara
Food As A Commons
People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.



The Editors
A Mother’s Work is Never Done
This year, for Mother's Day, Design Observer collected photos of women designers and their offspring in varying forms: we received entries in the form of then-and-now contemporary photos, of generational divides, of mothers as children (next to their children, as — no surprise —children) and even, because we're impatient and couldn't wait, one father and his lovely brood.


Adam Harrison Levy
The Oldest Living Things In the World
Climate change — once a distant fear — is already upon us, Rachel Sussman’s glorious, and vitally important book could not have come at a more crucial moment.



John Thackara
Presence and Encounter — How We Meet Is As Important As Why
I’m not suggesting that we abandon social media — just that we cultivate a hybrid approach so whenever someone says “online” someone else says, “and what about offline?”. Or when we find ourselves inside, someone else says: “and when do we go outside?”


Alex Knowlton
Miami Nice
Alex Knowlton reviews this year's ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design in Miami Beach.



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.


John Foster
The Focused Obsession of Photographer Rob Amberg
Rob Amberg is an award winning a documentary photographer who lives with his wife live on a small farm in the same NC county where he makes his photographs.


David Morris
The Public Library
“The public library is a singularly American invention.” An excerpt from the new book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.



Observed
Bistrophobie Poster
Can a poster shut people up? Locals in a bistro-dense corner of Paris would like to think so.


Anne Quito
Anne Quito on Quiet
Anne Quito will graduate in May 2014 from SVA’s MFA Design Criticism program. In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in Visual Culture from Georgetown University.


John Thackara
Keep Your Stuff Alive
What would fashion be like if it was more than a an act of consumption with no meaning beyond the point of sale? What kind of system would improve the quality of our fashion experience without increasing the quantity we consume?


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 Foster
The Greenville, NC Daily Reflector: 1948 to 1967
One of the best ways to investigate the life and times of a region is to look at the local photo files from the daily newspaper.


John Thackara
Cloud Commuting
A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem.



Observed
Deventer
In Deventer, the Netherlands, a routine real estate deal and demolition became the site of innovation and new intelligence in urban design.


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.


Rob Walker
Boris, Subverted
The Neighborhood Watch symbol Boris The Burglar is powerfully familiar; what does that mean when it's subverted?



John Thackara
Summer Xskool in Sweden
This year’s Doors of Perception Summer Xskool explores what it can mean in practice to move from a ‘do less harm’ approach to sustainability to a practice of leave things better.


John Thackara
Energy: Thriving On Five Percent?
Energy requirements per person in modern times are 60 times higher than our ancestors. How do we sustain that need as populations also increase?


Observed
Very Cool Playgrounds
Over on Wired, Liz Stinson profiles Monstrum, a Danish design studio that specializes in fantastic wooden playgrounds.



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?


Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition
The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.


Rob Walker
Hale County Revisited
An in-depth look at Hale County, Alabama, an accidental social-design laboratory.



John Thackara
Shoe City vs Sole Rebels
Two radically opposed models of development are being born in Ethiopia at the same time. One is small, local, socially fair, and ecologically respectful. The other takes the globalisation of fashion to a new and more destructive level.



John Thackara
A Whole New Cloth: Politics and the Fashion System
In fashion, despite more than 400 eco labels, an incremental ‘do less harm’ approach has addressed the symptoms, but not the principal cause, of our difficulties: an economy based on perpetual growth in a finite world.


Liz Gerber
The Trifecta of Feedback
The value of feedback and a proposal for the best ways to receive it.


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.


John Thackara
John Thackara on Avatar
John Thackara is a writer, speaker and design producer, and director of Doors of Perception. In addition to this blog, he is the author of twelve books including In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Wouldn't It Be Great If….



Paul Polak
End Poverty or Bust
Five years ago, Steve Bachar and Paul Polak decided to create a venture capital fund that would only invest in socially responsible companies. There was only one problem. There were no companies to invest in that met the criteria



Steven Heller
Lettering Large
An excerpt and gallery from Steven Heller and Mirko Ilić's new book: Lettering Large: Art and Design of Monumental Typography.



Paul Polak, and Mal Warwick
How to Solve India’s Poverty Crisis
A new look at how to end poverty in India.



John Foster
Extraordinary Spanish Art Environments
Jo Farb Hernández spent close to fourteen years surveying the elaborate fanciful worlds, idiosyncratic sculptures and unique visionary creations of 45 self-taught Spanish artists.



Alexandra Lange
L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman
A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.



William Drenttel, and Michael Mossoba
Winterhouse Fourth Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Final Report
An review of the Winterhouse Fourth Symposium on Design Education and Social Change.


Mariana Amatullo
Mariana Amatullo on Honesty
Mariana co-founded Designmatters in 2001. As the head of the Department, she is responsible for the strategic leadership of a dynamic portfolio of global and national educational projects, research collaborations and publications at the intersection of art and design education and social innovation.



Observed
Feeding Young Brains
AIGA Portland and The Right Brain Inititative have partnered on a new project to encourage kids to think creaively.



An Open Letter to AIGA
Status Quo or Transformation? A False Choice
An open letter to AIGA.


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.



Andrew Shea
Shaping Design Education at LEAP Symposium
A review by Andrew Shea of the recent, September 19-24, 2013, LEAP symposium at Art Center College of Design.


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





Cheryl Heller
Forget Poverty. Let’s Talk Business.
In a recent article on the future of design, I used Paul Polak as a case for why generalists are so important to the world right now.


John Thackara
Speed? What Speed? The Belly-Dance Drummer, by Matthias Rieger
Matthias Rieger with some remarks about speed from a belly-dance drummer’s point of view.


John Thackara
Flyways
A meditation on the migratory patterns of birds and sheep.


Alexandra Lange
A World of Paste and Paper
Today's obsession with digital renderings sparked two exhibitions that suggest a handmade, but far from quaint, corrective.



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



Observed
From Dance Hall to Design Studio to Dance Hall
Jeremy M. Lange photographs the inaugural dance held in the restored barn that used to be his grandfather's design studio.


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?


Rick Poynor
David Maisel and the Apocalyptic Sublime
David Maisel’s photographs are visions of the Earth as we have never seen it full of beauty and terror.


Manisha Sharma
Gendered Arrangements: India
Girls are considered a burden in Indian society, the issue is popularly known as the “missing girls” phenomenon.


Observed
A Book for Two
A new design for a shared reading experience from designer Soofiya Chaudry.


John Thackara
Xskool, Sweden, August
Overview of a Doors of Perception xskool that takes place in August as part of the FuturePerfect Festival in Sweden.


Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 2
In the mid-1990s, Inkahoots became a graphic design studio with its sights set on social causes.


Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 1
The Australian design team Inkahoots is a model of community-based graphic design practice.


John Thackara
Green Tourism: Why It Failed And How It Can Succeed
At a conference with 300 travel industry professionals, John Thackara ponders the successes, failures and potential in the Green Tourism industry.


Alexandra Lange
Every Little Thing
Cranbrook: A campus where the designers have thought of everything.


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?



Observed
AIGA (Re)design Awards
The AIGA (Re)design Awards is an international graphic design competition celebrating the most influential designs that advocate for strong communities, sustainable environments and thriving economies.



Debbie Millman
Maggie Macnab
Designer, educator and author Maggie Macnab talks about what designers can learn from nature — and what they can give back.



Observed
Be an AIGA Design Star
Command X — the AIGA live design reality show that happens on stage at the biennial design conference — is back for its fourth season.


Alexandra Lange
The Fork and the World: Design 101
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?


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.



Paul Polak
The SunWater Project: Advanced Solar Technology for Poor Farmers
Paul Polak on SunWater: a radically affordable solar water pump that will transform small plot agriculture and help bring the world's poorest families out of poverty.



Paul Polak
Transforming Solar Pumping to Eliminate Rural Poverty
Paul Polak explores how we might reduce water shortages by employing solar pumping and eliminating rural poverty.



John Thackara
A Roof, A Skill, A Market
The Nubian Vault Association has evolved a unique approach to housing in West Africa that creates three kinds of value within local economies: a roof, a skill and a market.


Rob Walker
Cover Story
A book vs. its cover: Why Colubmia GSAPP students treated this year's architecture annual like garbage.


John Foster
The Imagination of Playgrounds
A look back at the playgrounds of our youth, as captured by artists and photographers — and ourselves.


Alexandra Lange
What It Costs (to Buy a Bench, to Extend a Curb)
Participatory budgeting lets communities put their own urban priorities in order.



Observed
Welcoming Dr. Paul Polak
Welcoming Dr. Paul Polak as a Design Observer contributing writer.



Observed
Free Desk Here
Free Desk Here is a collaboration initiative set up by Nick Couch to encourage collaboration between design professionals.


John Thackara
The Ecozoic City
How humans are reintegrating their endeavours into a larger ecological consciousness.



Observed
2012: The Year in Construction
Engineering News-Record, a weekly technical magazine that traces it's roots back to 1874, has announced the winners of their "2012 The Year In Contruction" photo competition.



Philip Nobel
Oops: Understanding Failure
A review of To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, by Henry Petroski.



Observed
Atrocity Prevention Challenge
USAID, Humanity United and OpenIDEO have partnered to pursue ways to prevent mass atrocities – that is, deliberate mass violence against civilians.



Observed
A Campaign to Save The Post Office
Tucker Nichols is campaigning to save the Post Office.


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
German Government Think-Tank Supports Fringe Change Agents
Overview of the 400-page report World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability from the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WGBU), the heavyweight scientific body that advises the German Federal Government on ‘Earth System Megatrends’.


John Thackara
Venice: from Gated Lagoon to Bioregion
A review of the options that Venice faces in trying to shore up the city.


Mariana Amatullo
If You Believe You Can Fly
A report on the Social Enterprise World Forum.



Observed
One World Futbol
For children in impoverished countries, where soccer balls donated by relief agencies often rip and quickly deflate, Tim Jahnigen has developed a ball that can last for decades.



Observed
Climate of Doubt
A documentary on the remarkable — and sometimes bizarre — debate over global warming and climate change that has gone on since 2008.


John Thackara
From Autobahn to Bioregion
A review of the projects submitted to the Audi Urban Future Award.


Mark Lamster
High (Line) Anxiety
Is the High Line above criticism?



Observed
Design Indaba Online FilmFest
Design Indaba's online film festival features 10 of the Focus Forward short films.



Observed
Public Works
PUBLIC WORKS is a poster exhibition created by PUBLIC, a design based bicycle company with a mission to improve the quality and character of our cities and public spaces.


Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
Blocks, rocket ships, playgrounds and balls: the hidden meaning of playthings at the Museum of Modern Art.


John Thackara
How To Manage a Constellation
To solve complex and interconnected human-environment challenges, like the death of the Baltic Sea, we need to build ‘social-ecological coalitions’ or ‘constellations’.


John Thackara
Old Growth
The tale of a furniture giant and the possible ecological happy ending.


Rick Poynor
Demonstrations, Democracy and Design
After demonstrations in 2011, Barcelonas Plaça de Catalunya became a carnivalesque village of protest.


Rick Poynor
Why the Activist Poster is Here to Stay
Digital communication has given posters produced to contest an outrage or support a cause a new lease of life.



Scott Boylston
Designing Design into Society
A report on the Design Ethos 2012 DO-ference.


John Thackara
Top Down Nature
An overview of Bordeaux 55,000: a project to explore ‘how best to transform 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) into natural areas’.


John Thackara
What Is, Or Is Not, a ‘Green Job’?
Discordant information amplifies confusion about what is, or is not, a ‘green job’.


Alexandra Lange
Hiking the Museum
Ennead Architects’ new Natural History Museum of Utah works to make natural history seem like the ongoing process of discovery that it is, layering geology and topography, paleontology and interactivity.


John Thackara
The Other Green Economy
People the world over are divided between radically different conceptions of their future: resource-intensive production on the one side, versus regenerative land-based enterprises, and mosaics of micro-enterprises, on the other.



Observed
30 Posters for a Sustainable World
30 Posters for a Sustainable World brings together international designers to visualize the UN RIO+20 summit goals.



William Drenttel, and OBlog
Design + Craft: The Brazilian Path
Adélia Borges, a Brazilian curator has now published a remarkable book on the intersection of design and craft, artisanal objects and social innovation.



William Drenttel, and OBlog
Update: Design For Change Goes Global
Design For Change, the international design project that gives young people a chance to make a design contribution in their villages and cities has now reached 34 countries, launched a new website and conference, as well as school and communities challenges.


Alexandra Lange
The Well-Tempered Environment
Water features, old trees, food trucks. Three elements of the architecture of outdoor civic life in North Texas.



Observed
The Hypothetical Development Organization
The Hypothetical Development Organization will be included in the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.



Andrew Shea
Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions
How a disruption in routine (potentially by design) can alter the environment.


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.


Alexandra Lange
Fixing South Street Seaport: Is New Architecture Enough?
Fighting over Ben Thompson's postmodernist landmark Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. Should it stay or should it go?



Observed
Flyover Farm
A Kickstarter Project: Flyover Farm is a food project in Mumbai, India by Fresh & Local to transform an unused rooftop into a thriving urban farm and community space.


John Thackara
‘Beyond Good Intentions’ – The Movie
A new documentary hopes to answer the question "What happens in a disaster area after the initial wave of support?"


John Thackara
Oil-Powered Thinking
Why is it that countervailing facts don’t change things in our evidence-based world? And what might we do about it?


John Thackara
It’s Not Just The Bags
Design + Craft: The Brazilian Path by Adelia Borges explores the complex relationship between designers from the Northern hemishphere and indigenous artists in the Southern hemisphere, specifically craft communities in Brazil.


William Drenttel
Designing for Social Change
Designing for Social Change is a toolkit of strategies, case studies, and stories, offering new opportunities for approaching social design in our communities.


Nancy Levinson
Design Indaba 2012
Design Indaba 2012 gathered creative people from graphic and product design, architecture and landscape, film and video, not to mention Danish gastronomy and Bollywood movies.


John Thackara
Zurich Eco Lab
A report on the Zurich's thriving urban eco culture.


Alexandra Lange
Reassembling the American Dream
"Foreclosed" at the Museum of Modern Art asks what people really like about suburban living. And then, Can they do that with less?


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
Round Thermostats and Crystal Lanterns, Revisited
Old designs, new tricks: updates on lawsuits filed against the new Nest thermometer, and on behalf of midcentury masterpiece Manufacturers Hanover.


John Thackara
Navy Yard, GradComD, Brown Bag, Hard Hat
Talks and encounters in the US next week. I hope to see some of you there.


John Thackara
A Reading List for Mr. Monti
When the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, gave his acceptance speech to the Italian Senate before Christmas, he used the word "growth" 28 times and the word "energy" — well, zero times.


John Thackara
From Druids to Biorefineries: Innovation in a Small Nation
Small nations can be flexible in ways that big one cannot.



John Cary
Shelter for Those Who Served
On the unconscionable number of homeless veterans.



Michael Erard
What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook
The author writes about the genre you could call the Social Media Exile essay.



Mark Lamster
Majority Report
Review of Design with the Other 90%: Cities



Courtney Drake, William Drenttel, and Deirdre Cerminaro
Design and the Social Sector: An Annotated Bibliography
This bibiography surveys the literature of social design — the spectrum from design process and thinking to the zones of social innovation.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Program Description
This symposium, sponsored by the Winterhouse Institute, was held October 17-19 2010 in Falls Village, Connecticut. This was the initial information shared with participants.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Participants
The Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change, was held August 14-16, 2011 in Falls Village, Connecticut.


William Drenttel
Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Program Description
The original program description for the Winterhouse Institute symposium at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, August 2011 on social design in education.


William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Final Report
The final report from a symposium held in Connecticut, August 2011, where 28 participants from a variety of design and education programs discussed the challenges of social change initiatives within their schools, museums and programs.



Alexandra Lange
Architecture Research Office
Interview with Stephen Cassell and Adam Yarinsky on the occasion of their National Design Award



Julie Lasky
Media Design Matters
Art Center offers a new graduate track in social design that combines communications and technologies strategies with field work.



Ramsey Ford
Expert Thinking About Global Aid
Suggestions for a crash course in development economics for social designers



Photo by Iain McKell
The New Gypsies
Photographer Iain McKell documents England's romantic travelers



Rachel Signer
Don't Flush Me
Prototype for urban system to detect and prevent sewage overflows



John Thackara
Iceland: Eaten Alive, or Growing to Live?
Exploding the myth of Iceland's "green" energy — with alternative suggestions



Phil Patton
The Green Dashboard
The design of instrument panels reflects the new technologies of hybrid and electric vehicles



Barbara Flanagan
Sleeping with the Fishes
Review of "Waltzing with Brando," an account of the actor's effort to inhabit and protect a Tahitian atoll.



Barbara Flanagan
The Dissing of Summer Lawns
How one Californian was forced (and inspired) to exchange sod for low-water plants.



John Foster
DART St. Louis
On DART St. Louis, a charitable photo project that brings overlooked neighborhoods to life.



The Editors
Sappi Ideas That Matter
Trio of 2010 Sappi Ideas That Matter grant recipients



Ernest Beck
San+Co
A pilot project developed for India provides santiation and electricity in a single venture.



Barbara Flanagan
Epiphany of an Ocean Swimmer
Essay on in the insights that come with immersion in the deep, cold sea.



Jane Margolies
How to Start a Movement
Interview with movement entrepreneur Jeremy Heimans, founder of Purpose.com.


John Thackara
Sweat Equity Infra
The Millau Viaduct is a tourist attaction in the making. Future vistors will gawk at it and wonder: “how *did* they build that?”



Julie Lasky
Ringing in the New Air
Nendo's Bell-Orgel collection for Tokyo's Isetan department store.



Maria Popova
A Voice for LGBTQ in the Middle East
Interview with Esra'a Al Shafei, founder of Ahwaa, a portal for LGBTQ issues in the Middle East


John Thackara
From Ecstasy to Exergy: Running Out of Easy Copper
The days of abundant resources and falling prices are over forever, the consequences for many so-called “green technologies” will be devastating.



Joanne Chew
China: Brooms, Mops and Chairs
Considering everyday objects like mops and brooms within China's broader historical context reframes the relationship between Chinese people and their streets and is, for that matter, a testament to their communal living habits.



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



An Xiao Mina
The Ultra 10 Challenge
Report on ULTRA, a sustainable fashion company founded in Kuala Lumpur.


John Thackara
Energy: A Sense of Loss
Whenever electricity is transmitted from one place to another a certain amount is simply lost. In older grids, energy is wasted overcoming resistance in the lines themselves.



Claire Lui
Can't Live With It, Can't Get Rid of It
Interview with Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story.



Phil Patton
Another Wrong Turn for Chris Paine
Review of the documentary film Revenge of the Electric Car.




Gavin Browning
Community Hero: Queens Museum of Art
Queens Museum of Art, a model for community service, breaks ground on new addition.


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.



Ernest Beck
Benefit Corporations
The B Corp designation ensures that companies adhere to triple-bottom-line standards.



Phil Patton
Sustainable Gold
Phil Patton on the conference “Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance."



John Thackara
Off-Grid Water
Strategies and resources for water conservation.



Maria Popova
Coffee Common




Ramsey Ford
Design Impact Fellowship Program
Announcement of Design Impact Fellowship Program in India.



John Thackara
Does Bilbao Need Another Guggenheim?
Ideas for remaking Basque country that go far beyond fancy architecture.


John Thackara
Utopia is Here
Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years we are due to find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.



Ernest Beck
Creative Support for Japan
Creative responses to the crisis in Japan.


Josh Wallaert
Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names
No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.



Julie Lasky
Alex Steffen: Worldchanging II
Interview with Alex Steffen on the new edition of his book Worldchanging


John Thackara
Work Faster, India!
“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop. It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced during my stay that India's economy will grow by nine percent next year.



Maria Popova
D-Build
A streamlined approach to dismantling and recycling buildings.


William Drenttel
Homework
A plastic axe, a left-over prop from a Halloween costume, tracked from a Connecticut store back to a California distributor back to a Chinese manufacturer.



John Thackara
Africa: Where Events Are King
John Thackara interviews Mugendi M’Rithaa.



Julie Lasky
DesigNYC, Round 2
Report on second round of pro bono design initiatives fostered by DesigNYC.



Ernest Beck
BOOM
Report on a visionary residential complex for aging gay boomers.


Alexandra Lange
Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
Why has the dinner party become an endangered species of entertainment?



Ernest Beck
GlobalTap Update
GlobalTap water station update.


John Thackara
Ultra Modern
I dislike the word “Glocal,” I also dislike the word “Creative,” now a new word has come along to bug me: “Sustainism.”



Ernest Beck
Hester Street Collaborative
Report on Hester Street Collaborative's pro-bono design model.



John Thackara
Renewable Energy: Salvation or Snake Oil?
Critique of The Energy Report published by the World Wildlife Fund, which asserts that the world's energy needs could be met by alternative sources.



Jonathan Schultz
Give a Minute
Report on Local Projects' Give a Minute initiative to improve urban life.



John Thackara
I am Compost
Something special is happening in France. A 73 year old Algerian-born farmer, philosopher and environmentalist is beginning to impact not just on the electoral process, but the culture of this resolutely human-centered, nature-dominating country.



Ernest Beck
Mensch at Work
Review of The Power of Pro Bono



Maria Popova
The Age of Coworking: Collaborative Consumption for the Creative Community
Report on the new (golden) age of coworking.



Edited by Julie Lasky
Social Design in Three Dimensions: Four Examples
A business-school case study inspires MFA design students.



Photo by Milton Rogovin
The Poetry of Simplicity
Pablo Neruda on the photographer Milton Rogovin



Julie Lasky
Bushpunk and the Future of Africa
Why Maker Faire Africa is a model for economic development



John Thackara
The Gram Junkies: In Transportation Design the Key Issue Is Not Speed, but Weight
In the matter of mobility and modern transportation we all need to become gram junkies.



Alexandra Lange
Is No the Answer?
Bag bans, yes. But why is no plastic the answer?



Julie Lasky
Index Names Design Challenge Finalists
Among the seven projects dedicated to schoolchildren are educational games, classroom furniture and products that support comfort and hygiene.




Phil Patton
Charging Double
Comparing two new electric-car chargers: Blink and WattStation



Julie Lasky
MSC Greenhouse Project
On learning about science, nutrition and politics at the Manhattan School for Children.



Maria Popova
Rise of the Micro-Medici
On the value of microfunding creative ideas that stem from a single mind.



Marian Bantjes
Plastics: An Apoplexy
I woke up in the middle of the night stewing about plastics. In particular, the continuing, insidious use of excessive and totally unnecessary plastics in packaging.



Maria Popova
Helping People Help Their Narratives
Interview with Andrew McGregor, founder of The Tiziano Project



Constantin Boym
Out of Sight: Qatari Workers' Housing
Constantin Boym reports on efforts to improve the living conditions of Qatar's migrant workers.



Adam Harrison Levy
Sustainable Christmas Trees
From artificial firs to rented spruces, a report on alternatives to the chopped-down Xmas tree.


John Thackara
Use Fewer Words — Or Less Ink?
Various projects to develop environmentally friendly and non-toxic printers' ink are underway.



Julie Lasky
Acumen Sexy Sanitation Challenge
Acumen Fund announces winners of its "Sexy Sanitation" challenge.


John Thackara
Has Venice Cracked the Bottled Water Conundrum?
Italians are the leading consumers of bottled water in the world, the solution to the waste was to created a brand name for Venice’s tap water — Acqua Veritas.



John Thackara
Green Issues in Communication Design
Why do companies get environmental awards for polluting less, even though they are still polluting?


John Thackara
Jellyfish Farm
Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048.



John Thackara
In the Air of Madrid
Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning.



Edward Morris, and Dmitri Siegel
Destroy This Book
The Green Patriot Posters project looked to the graphic design and artistic communities for ways to invigorate and mobilize people to remake our economy for a more sustainable future.


John Thackara
Is an Environmentally Neutral Car Possible?
The future of the car has been electric for what? Five years now? Ten? The answer is 110 years. The new Riversimple, makes us look again at the feasibility of the electric car.



Renna Al-Yassini
Roudha Center
Report on Roudha Center, a proposal for a one-stop hub for Qatari women to learn the nuts and bolts of launching a business



William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Final Report
The final report from a symposium held in Connecticut, October 17–19, 2010, where 13 educators from a variety of design and business programs discussed the challenges and objectives of social-change initiatives within their schools and universities.



Meena Kadri
Conflict Kitchen
Report on Conflict Kitchen, a project by artists affiliated with Carnegie Mellon to foster cross-cultural understanding through food.



Jonathan Schultz
Solo Kota Kita
Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.



Photo by Taslima Akhter
The Raveled Sleeve of Care
Photo by Taslima Akhter showing living conditions for Bangladesh's garment workers.


John Thackara
Leave Nothing But Footsteps
“Take nothing but memories” Kalack concludes “and leave nothing but footsteps”.


John Thackara
A Lesson from Cornwall
I've always loved lichen. I found this one in Cornwall’s Biodiversity Action Plan and chose it as a beautiful asset that already exists in the county.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Participant Case Studies
Participants of Winterhouse Symposium on Design Education and Social Change, October 17-19, 2010, each contributed case studies of a class, project or program that bridges design and social innovation.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Participants
This outlines the participants of the Winterhouse Symposium on Design Education and Social Change, which was held October 17-19 2011, in Falls Village CT.



James Lapides
Graphic Intervention
A slideshow containing images from Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters 1985–2010, now on view at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.



Photo by Andy Drewitt
Forty Angles and a Mule
Photograph from series by Australian Andy Drewitt of donkey rescue facility.



Ernest Beck
Safe Agua
The first collaboration between Designmatters at Art Center College of Design and Chile’s Un Techo para mi País creates fresh ideas for water usage in a Santiago slum.



Phil Patton
The Meek Shall Inherit the Market
Phil Patton writes in praise of frugal engineering, and not just for developing markets.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Update 09.25.10
Dateline Aspen. An on-going report on progress on the six projects developed at the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009.



Jade Dressler
Degrees of Temporary
Interview with Claudia Zanfi, co-founder of the cultural organization aMAZElab in Milan.



Jane Margolies
Renewing the Riverfront

Report on an exhibition showcasing efforts to revitalize a derelict patch of Brattleboro, Vermont.




Dana Thomas
132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE
The latest material (and sustainability) adventure from the great Japanese fashion designer.



Mimi Zeiger
Food Not Bombs
Report on Food Not Bombs, an activist network, now about to turn 30, that distributes free vegan meals.



Sculpture by Mara Haseltine
Pearl River
Oyster Island, Mara Haseltine's sculpture created to revive the oyster reefs that once flourished in and near New York City.



Photo by Teun Voeten
Hell Under Wheels
Photo from Teun Voeten's newly reissued book on New York's Tunnel People.



Ernest Beck
Climate Change Chocolate Update
Update on Climate Change Chocolate and other ideas for offsetting carbon. Originally published August 17, 2009.



William Underhill
Somali Documentary Project
Report on the Somali Documentary Project.



William Drenttel
Case Study Use: Teaching History and Notes for Educators
A record of where case studies in Design and Social Enterprise series from Yale School of Management have been used or taught.



Ernest Beck
SELCO: Case Study Synopsis & Teaching Objectives

This case study about SELCO, a solar energy company in India, provides an opportunity to examine the strategy of a business with a social purpose and a heavy reliance on innovative design.





Ernest Beck
Design and Social Enterprise: A New Model for Case Studies
Not many business school case studies have considered the role of design in social innovation or social enterprise management. Yale School of Management, in collaboration with Winterhouse Institute, has created a series focusing on Design and Social Enterprise, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.



Phil Patton
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car
Review of Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric car.



Photo by Susannah Sayler/The Canary Project
Hot Mountain
Photo documenting the effects of climate change in Peru, by Susannah Sayler of The Canary Project.



Ernest Beck
Ripple Effect Update

Update on the Ripple Effect initiative launched by IDEO, Gates Foundation and Acumen Fund to distribute fresh water in the developing world. Originally published July 30, 2009.





Meena Kadri
Tinkers, Hackers, Farmers, Crafters
Interview with Emeka Okafor, founder of Maker Faire Africa.



Photo by Greg Constantine
Nubians Then and Now
Image of Nubian homes in the Kibera area of Nairobi by Greg Constantine.



William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Reasons Not to Be Pretty: Symposium on Design, Social Change and the “Museum”
In April 2010, 22 designers, historians, curators, educators and journalists met at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy to discuss the museum’s potential role in relation to design for social change. This is a report on their conversation.



Jen Roos
Cup of Heroes
Thoughts on design, sports, and the author's return to a South African township during the World Cup.



John Thackara
Could Green Energy Kill the Desert?
Large scale wind power might not be as green as you think.



Maria Popova
The Language of Design Imperialism
Essay on the flawed language used to describe humanitarian design efforts and what it indicates.



Photo by Pieter Hugo
Permanent Error
Photo by Pieter Hugo of Ghana's Agbogbloshie slum.



Ernest Beck
The World as Our Studio
Report on Worldstudio's hybrid business model for collaborating with for-profit and not-for-profit clients (while supporting a foundation).



Michael Erard
The Dream Job Project Part II
How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? The results of these questions, part II.



The Editors
Humanitarian Design vs. Design Imperialism: Debate Summary
Bruce Nussbaum started a firestorm with the question "Is humanitarian design the new imperialism?" — and the conversation has spread through the blogosphere. Here, a digest of essays and related posts on this subject.



Robert Fabricant
In Defense of Design Imperialism
Weighing in on a controversy, frog design's Robert Fabricant supports global design interventions.



Phil Patton
Murray T.25 City Car
Report on Gordon Murray's conversion from revolutionary race car designer to creator of one of the greenest city cars ever.



Vera Sacchetti
"But Teacher! That’s Not Design!"
Interview with Portuguese communication designer Barbara Alves about teaching in Mozambique.



William Underhill
Boatanic
In the Netherlands, designer Damian O'Sullivan conceives of floating greenhouses converted from tourist boats.


Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson
New Visions of Home
Report on new housing models for the elderly.



William Underhill
D-Rev Blue Star Jaundice Treatment
Report on Blue Star, D-Rev's affordable jaundice treatment for newborn babies in the developing world.



Krista Donaldson
The Real Cost of Free
Do you give the poor farmer a pump if you know it will transform her crops and move her family from just scraping by into the middle class? It’s hard to say no, isn’t it? But you should.



Alexandra Lange
In Metropolis: Blue Sky Thinking
What’s really happening at Inland Steel?



Ernest Beck
Catapult Design: How to Run a Design Firm for Social Change
Catapult Design’s nonprofit model offers a new way to think about how designers can engage social innovation projects.



Zara Arshad
How to Green an Embassy
Working at the British Embassy Beijing with zero budget means that even straightforward solutions, such as implementing a recycling system, pose a challenge.



John Thackara
Whole, Whole on the Range
As a juror on the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, John Thackara reviews the highlight.



Elizabeth Helman Minchilli, and Annie Schlechter
Rome Sustainable Food Project
Alice Waters has been working tirelessly to change the way we eat in America. Four years ago, she sent chef Mona Talbott overseas to reform the kitchens of the American Academy in Rome.


Kate Andrews
Dori Gíslason
Interview with design educator Halldór Gíslason about his work in Mozambique.



Michael Bierut
The Bones of Francois Robert
Francois Robert has spent hundreds of hours arranging the bones of a single human skeleton into a series of striking iconic shapesto create a series he calls "Stop the Violence."  



Jane Margolies
The Laugh Bug
Is Volkswagen's Fun Theory campaign anything more than a turbocharged marketing stunt?






Michael Erard
The Dream Job Project
How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? I invite you to weigh in.



Amanda Hurley
Hold Your Sawhorses!
Brazilian architecture firm StudioMK27 creates a controversial furniture collection based on the designs of construction workers.



Azby Brown
Bent by the Sun
What a longtime American-born resident of Japan has learned about his adopted country's ancient practice of sustainability.



Ernest Beck
Es Tiempo
Report on Es Tiempo, a campaign designed to encourage Hispanic women in Southern California to seek annual screenings for cervical cancer.



Kaomi Goetz
Kopernik
Report on Kopernik, a new website for funding technology to assist populations in the developing world.



Justin Kemerling
The Volunteer Design Chronicles (Lincoln, NE)
Community-focused pro-bono design activities in Lincoln, Nebraska.



Jessica Helfand
Better Living Through Artistry
SEWA, a cooperative textile manufacturing company in Ahmedebad, India, is a network of self-employed women.



Meena Kadri
Finding Innovation in Every Corner

Interview with management expert Anil Gupta, who seeks to reduce poverty by finding, broadcasting and nurturing examples of innovation among India's poor.





Ernest Beck
The Cotton Club
Report on the complex, and sometimes muddled, standards for certifying organic cotton.



Julie Lasky
DesigNYC
DesigNYC is the latest grass-roots organization to match socially minded designers with nonprofits.



Ernest Beck
GlobalTap
Report on prototype for GlobalTap water refilling stations.



Mitch Epstein
Why Not in My Backyard?
Mitch Epstein's photo of Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004, from his book American Power (Steidl, 2009).



Tony Whitfield
Prepared for Haiti
Tony Whitfield meditates on the assistance designers should give in Haiti following the earthquake, and in future catastrophes.



Ernest Beck
State of Shelter
Relief organizations still rely on the same basic options for emergency housing, but new ideas are taking hold.


Jane Margolies
Rising Currents
Report on "Rising Currents," an exhibition of New York City design solutions to the flooding predicted by climate change experts, which will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art, March 24–August 9, 2010.



Michael Bierut
Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.



Rachel Berger
A Makeover for the BART Map
Unlike the notorious 1972 Massimo Vignelli redesign of the New York City subway map, the new BART map didn't make much of a splash in graphic design circles.



Jason Orton
All That Remains
Jason Orton's photograph of a tree in Dartford, Kent, one of few left over from a lush arboretum.



Jane Margolies
St. Augustine School Chicken Project
Report on the sustainability program at St. Augustine parochial school in the South Bronx.



Eve M. Kahn
Green Sleeves
Review of “Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion” at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, November 20, 2009 - February 20, 2010.



Jane Withers
In Praise of Shadows
Essay adapted from "In Praise of Shadows: New European Lighting Design," presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 19–October 18, 2009.



Julie Lasky
CO2 CUBES
Description of CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change, a multimedia installation created for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference of the Parties (COP-15), held in Copenhagen in December 2009.



Jennifer Ehrenberg
Chicago Welcomes You
On designing a resettlement process for Burmese immigrants in Chicago.


Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF Menstruation Challenge
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Menstruation Challenge Project proposed an “eco-system” whereby sanitary pads became a linchpin for local economic growth, for educational programs about health and hygiene and for research into materials that could be adapted to other countries.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF and Early Childhood Development
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Early Childhood Development Project proposed a new approach to emergency kits that would be more precisely tuned to young children’s intellectual and emotional needs, as well as outlined a basis for the next AIGA/INDEX: Aspen Design Challenge.



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.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: CDC and Healthy Aging
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the CDC Healthy Aging Project began with the initial premise to enhance the ability of public health entities to determine whether adults 50 and over have received recommended preventive health services. The Project developed a “5 over 50” concept and brand name, and a new goal: to double the current number of people who are “up to date” with these preventive measures.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: Hale County Rural Poverty Project
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Hale County Rural Poverty Project conceived of a socio-economic model of resource allocation through an online platform for accelerated regional development in the Black Belt counties of rural Alabama.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Participants
The Aspen Design Summit, November 11-14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, involved 64 participants — designers, experts, researchers, educators, and representatives of NGOs, foundations and businesses. This the complete attendee list of participants.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Initial Report
Initial report on the 2009 Aspen Design Summit, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute.


Jonathan Schultz
DESIS
Report on the Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability project's latest home at New York's New School.



Mark Dery
Dawn of the Dead Mall
Mark Dery surveys the landscape of failing malls and speculates about the future means and venues of mass consumption.


By Alexis Rockman
Hot Times in the Old Town
East 82nd Street, 2007, painting from Alexis Rockman's American Icons series depicting future landscapes ravaged by climate change



Julie Lasky
88Bikes
Report on a foundation that distributes bicycles to children in the developing world.


Ernest Beck
Medellín, Colombia
Report on the city officials who turned around a notorious drugs-and-murder capital, winning the 2009 Curry Stone Design Prize for Transformative Public Works.



Adam Harrison Levy
O Tannenbaum!
People are talking differently about Christmas trees this year. They’re downscaling or simplifying their annual rite.


Bradford McKee
Float House
Report on a floating house designed by Morphosis and UCLA architecture students for the Make It Right Foundation,



Alexandra Lange
(Women and) Children First
Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park is one more way New York City is attempting to be child-friendly.



Ernest Beck
Emergency Response Studio
Report on artist Paul Villinski's mobile studio, which he converted from a trailer of the type used by FEMA to house victims of Hurricane Katrina.



Bradford McKee
New Grub Street
Interview with photorapher Jonas Bendiksen following the opening of his exhibition "The Places We Live."



Jane Margolies
Skin
Report on maternity clothes made in Colombia with local labor. (No seamstresses under the age of 50 need apply.)



John Thackara
John Thackara Answers Your Questions
John Thackara answers questions from the readers of DESIGN 21.



Jonathan Schultz
Better Place
Report on Better Place, winner of the 2009 INDEX Award in the Community category.



Ernest Beck
Peepoobag
Report on Peepoobag, a new self-sanitizing, single-use, biodegradable container for human waste.



Kerry William Purcell
The Art of Psychographics
Each and every graphic design signifies a memory. A familiar sign, map or poster can often trigger a set of associations in the viewer, a series of thoughts and feelings that have their own unique trajectory. 



Project
Kiva
Report on Kiva, the pioneering microfinance site, which won a 2009 INDEX award for humanitarian design.



Ernest Beck
Chulha Stove

Report on the Chulha stove designed by Philips to reduce indoor air pollution in developing countries.





Bryan Mealer, and William Kamkwamba
The Doers Club
Design prodigy William Kamkwamba recalls building a windmill to generate electricity for his village in Malawi, Africa.



Mark Dery
Paradise Fouled
Review of Crude, Joe Berlinger's documentary film about a lawsuit filed against Chevron by denizens of the Ecuadorean Amazon.



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



Julie Lasky
Pizza Farm
Report on Project M at Winterhouse's Pizza Farm event in rural Connecticut in August 2009.


Phil Patton
Triple-Digit Inflation
Phil Patton questions GM's sustainability claims for its Chevrolet Volt electric car.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part II
Continuation of debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Ernest Beck
PACT Underwear
Report on PACT, an underwear company that embraces green manufacturing and donates a portion of its revenue to nonprofits.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part I
Debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Teun Voeten
Under Cover
Teun Voeten photograph of Kabul, Afghanistan, 2007. The situation for widows in Afghanistan is desperate...



Teun Voeten
Hell in a Horse Cart
Photo of coal merchant in Shanxi Province, China, by Teun Voeten.



John Thackara
Get Out of Your Tents!
In an interview with OK Do, John Thackara urges us to do real things in the real world.



Alec Appelbaum
FLAP Bag
Report on the FLAP bag, a multipurpose messenger bag for developing-world populations.



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.



Jason Orton
Going Coastal
Photo of Holliwell Point, Essex County, England by Jason Orton.



Ernest Beck
Climate Change Chocolate
While environmentalists debate the ethics and effectiveness of carbon offsets, designers work to make them appealing.



Julie Lasky
When Worlds Collide
Report on TEDGlobal 2009, held July 21–24 in Oxford, England.



Alexandra Lange
Waiting On the Dream
I wrote a piece on the (lack of) development in Midtown West , also known as the Hudson Yards.



Taryn Simon
Blue Note
Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility Cherenkov Radiation, Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy, Southeastern Washington State. Photograph by Taryn Simon.



Alexandra Lange
Kroon Hall
With its vaulted roof, communal spaces, and casual materials, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ new Kroon Hall is designed to float Yale into the 21st century, training the world’s future green leaders along the way.



Ernest Beck
Ripple Effect

IDEO launched Ripple Effect in India to help communities with the arduous process of transporting water.





John Thackara
The Internet of Things
Should we be sprinkling technological devices across the planet like dust?



John Thackara
Make Sense, Not Stuff
John Thackara presents a three-step plan to connect design schools to the green economy.



John Thackara
Doctors with iPhones
The neighborhood doctor is back — and this time, he has an iPhone.



John Thackara
The Innovator Next Door
Whether it's narrowly defining innovation as technology, or imposing solutions on communities, John Thackara discusses the mistakes made by large companies.



Mark Lamster
Practice Does Not Make Perfect
The J-E-T-S spent $75 million this year on a state-of-the-art new training facility designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but they may still miss the playoffs.



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



John Thackara
Design for (Im)mobility: Interview with Domus
John Thackera defines and explains the importance of ethnoecology.



John Thackara
Global Place — Or is it a Hat?
We must view the world with a new slant and take advantage of a huge design opportunity to create sustainable structures for the future.



Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken
Grant McCracken is the author of Culture and Consumption IPlenitudeBig HairCulture and Consumption II: Markets, Meaning and Brand ManagementThe Long InterviewFlock and Flow, and Transforming Selves.  



Mark Lamster
Seeing Red
Red Bogart blamed technology and changing attitudes for the reason he sold Camp Tomahawk, but Mark Lamster knew there was something more to the story.



Rob Walker
The Guts of a New Machine
The iPod, a digital music player, it weighing just 6.5 ounces and holding about 1,000 songs.



John Thackara
Interior Design at War [April 2003]
Report on design in the war in Afghanistan, the Pearl River Delta in China, the Media Lab Europe (MLE), the 50th anniversary of the German Design Council, New Mobility, and more.



Observed | September 14

Extraordinary gas stations From John Margolies’ archive of Americana architecture. [BV]

Spend some time listening this weekend: Designed this Way explores design in India. [BV]


Observed | September 13

Goodbye to bits and atoms. Uber has rebranded for the second time in less than three years. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | September 12

Congrats to Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand! The Design of Business | The Business of Design was named one of the 15 best graphic design podcasts. [BV]

How the hardware store orders things, neighborhoods, and material worlds. [BV]


Observed | September 11

“Most pleasant to the ear”: W. E. B. Du Bois’s itinerant intellectual soundscapes. [BV]


Observed | September 10

Anatomy of an AI System. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | September 07

Laugh and the world laughs with you. But not everyone LOLs. How people around the world laugh online. [BV]

What colors define historical periods? Color Leap creates color palettes from 2000 BC to the 1960s. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | September 06

Inside America’s abandoned theaters: the curtains have been called. [BV]


Observed | September 05

Ken Kocienda: “I invented the iPhone’s autocorrect. Sorry about that, and you’re welcome.” [BV]

How magazine cover design may be more important than ever. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

The Cooper Hewitt received the London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States Medal for “Face Values”, curated by Ellen Lupton. Our very own Jessica Helfand is one of the participating artists. Congratulations all! [BV]


Observed | August 31

In Helsinki, a new design museum opens underground. [BV]

From schools to sand piles: In her new book, critic Alexandra Lange tracks how design has shaped kids and kids have shaped design. [BV]


Observed | August 30

Integral thinking: design in four dimensions. [BV]

With ‘bookstagramming’ becoming a force in marketing, are designers making covers more colourful, bolder and cleaner, to stand out on our screens? [BV]


Observed | August 28

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints faces a divinely inspired rebranding challenge. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

“When we talk about queering design pedagogy we need to talk about reproduction(s).” [BV]


Observed | August 27

A look at how to design for senior citizens: both in the macro scale of cities and the small scale of dwellings. [BV]

With her elegant 3-D subway schematics Candy Chan joins a long line of graphic designers and artists who have tried to explore—and explain—mass transit systems through visuals. [BV]


Observed | August 24

An ode to the color gray. [BV]


Observed | August 23

7 reasons the design industry may have forgotten Yves Béhar. [BV]

In the fight for net neutrality: Verizon under fire for ‘throttling’ firefighters’ data in California blaze. [BV]


Observed | August 22

Your afternoon moment of zen: delicate paper robots. [BV]

The video game soda machine project is obsessively cataloging video game “pop” culture. [BV]


Observed | August 21

Cartographers, rejoice. The world’s newest, most gloriously designed maps. [BV]

What do we lose when we lose our privacy? [BV]


Observed | August 20

122F is the temperature at which human cells start to cook, animals suffer, and air conditioners overload power grids: and it is fast becoming reality in cities worldwide. [BV]

All life on Earth, in one staggering chart. (via Kottke) [BV]



Jobs | September 18