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

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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
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….

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.

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

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

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’.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
A streamlined approach to dismantling and recycling buildings.

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

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

Jonathan Schultz
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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

Observed | March 23

Designer Paw Poulsen turns celebrities such as Bill Gates and Elton John into typefaces. [BV]

In the room where Mailer and Talese and Capote got drunk, about a dozen people — mostly women — vie to become the next editor of The Paris Review. (via Arts and Letters Daily) [BV]

Observed | March 22

Fancy furniture out of garbage. [MPL]

Phew! Robots won‘t steal our jobs, yet. [MPL]

Observed | March 20

Secret symbols in paintings. [MPL]

Space station outta control. And falling. [MPL]

Observed | March 19

We are all “curators” now. Is it simply a vain attempt to sprinkle fairy dust over something quite ordinary? [BV]

How do you boycott a building? Our Jessica Helfand has a suggestion. [BV]

Observed | March 16

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic images from down under. A new book reports on the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the resident arts companies, rock musicians, and chefs influencing the building’s evolution. [BV]

What are you doing this weekend? The future of leisure. [BV]

Observed | March 15

The dying electric guitar: What the decline of Gibson and Fender tells us about music. [MPL]

Machines are getting better at literary analysis. [MPL]

Observed | March 14

Women designers on Instagram: From architects to color specialists, Curbed has selected 30 accounts to follow. [BV]

The MIT 24-hour challenge: Honor a design legend with a gift to the MIT press. [BV]

Rare and familiar colors. [MPL]

Observed | March 13

The rise of ‘cynical’ packaging? [JH]

A coffee lid pub crawl. [JH]

New Mexico’s chile pepper design claims the 2017 license plate crown. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

Observed | March 12

What single image represents the entire human race? The story behind the image on the “human” entry on Wikipedia. [BV]

Rizzoli‘s book on the life and work of midcentury children‘s book creator Miroslav Sasek. [MPL]

Observed | March 09

Science as a visual pursuit. [JH]

Observed | March 08

The Danish Design Center recently surveyed 800 Danish companies and nearly 75 percent said that the use of design in their company has a positive impact on their bottom line. [JH]

Overlooked obituaries of famous women. [JH]

Observed | March 06

The best things found between the pages of old books. [BV]

Observed | March 05

When successful design is not beautiful. [JH]

In Singapore: Fortune, Time, and Wallpaper jointly host a conference on design and business. [JH]

In Sydney: crime storytelling expert Peter Doyle tells the story of a mysterious serial attacker in his new mini-documentary, Slasher Patrol. [JH]

Observed | March 02

Frank Lloyd Wright is not God: Moving into an American architectural masterpiece is not for the fainthearted. [BV]

October 18, 1973: Sotheby‘s auction. The moment “when the art world collapsed.” [BV]

Observed | February 28

Two years after “the Great Instagram Logo Freakout,” it turns out that everything is fine. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

Jobs | March 24