Ecology

Laura Scherling
A Tale of Long Island City: Between Industrialization, Innovation, and Gentrification
The multi-faceted aspects of development in Long Island City, with creative and technological development deeply ingrained in it’s rich urban identity and history.


Steven Heller
The Plastic Wars
Thoughts on the plastic wars from Steven Heller.


Andre Barnet
The Age of Wreckers and Exterminators
For many people, the sudden appearance of Carson’s and Jacobs’s brilliant and prescient books was one of those moments that seem, in retrospect, to have changed the very order of things.


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.


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
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
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
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
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….



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


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.


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
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.


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


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


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



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


Rob Walker
Killing for Beautiful Objects
A report on the ivory trade reminds us of the uniquely human willingness to kill for beautiful objects.


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.


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
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.


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


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.


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.



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


Chappell Ellison
How Do I Know It’s Faux?
If you want to go faux, you might have to call in a fur expert.



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


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.



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



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



Timothy Jack Ward
Gardens and Their Designers
When I loaded up my Budget truck and moved from New York to our nation’s capital, the last thing on, and the first thing off, was my plants.



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



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.



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



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.



John Thackara
Cities, Design and Democracy: Conversation with Sunil Abraham in Cluster
John Thackara and Sunil Abraham sit down for an in-depth interview with Cluster Magazine.



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.


The Design Observer Cooperative

Observed | November 30

Help our friends at Unit Editions produce a long-overdue monograph on the work of artist and designer Ed Fella. [JH]


Observed | November 18

You may congratulate yourself for being a good listener, but often it’s the powerful who get to listen and decide what to hear. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]

Why the Google Workspace rebrand isn’t as bad as the Internet would have you believe. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 17

Aaaaaannnnnnd—that’s a lawsuit. Banana Republic gets sued over an Ampersand. [JH]


Observed | November 16

Architects designing for sea changes—as in, sea LEVEL changes. [JH]


Observed | November 06

Try to impeach THIS. [JH]


Observed | November 02

A history of American culture told through the pin-back button

Observed | October 30

A
t-shirt design created by Christian Rincon in honor of a champion of equality and justice. Proceeds benefit Senate races all across the country. [BV]


Observed | October 29

London’s Design Museum is hosting an exhibition of the work of Margaret Calvert, who had a prominent role in designing the UK’s road signage system. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | October 28

For the first time in history, Time Magazine will replace its logo with the word Vote. [JH]

“Mr. Lee thought a good designer should work in multiple forms, though he had a particular fondness for dance.” Longtime Yale professor and award-winning set designer Ming Cho Lee has died, at 90. [JH]


Observed | October 26

Our favorite minimalist, Kyle Chayka, on the quarantine palette. [JH]


Observed | October 20

Designer Peter Cho has introduced a daily drawing challenge—perfect for us all. Sign up here. [JH]


Observed | October 19

Shalom Schotten, a graphic designer at Thames & Hudson for over fifty years, has died. Remembered for his talent, kindness, and patience, the Austrian-born designer was 86. [JH]


Observed | October 14

“Either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate, and problem-solve.” Nominations for The Earthshot Prize begin on November 1. [JH]


Observed | October 09

Politicizing the duck stamp. (Sigh.) [JH]


Observed | October 08

“It Is What It Is”: All of Donald Trump’s Transgressions is a set of four artist’s books in which Trump’s transgressions are recorded and assigned colored cards as if by a referee in soccer. A monumental informational graphic work, Siglio Press needs your help to get it published. [BV]


Observed | October 07

Behold: the dawn of X (and why it’s a design story). [JH]

What is good design if not drama? Twenty-six movies every design lover should see. [JH]

Today, the Getty Research Institute launched 12 Sunsets: Exploring Ed Ruscha’s Archive, an interactive website that allows users to discover thousands of photographs of Sunset Boulevard taken by artist Ed Ruscha between 1965 and 2007. Stamen Design founder Eric Rodenbeck writes about the project and the many gems they found along the way. [BV]


Observed | October 06

Run—don’t walk—to pick up your copy of the new book by Roman Mars + Kurt Kohlstedt. [JH]

The existence and etymology of “uppercase” and “lowercase” is a fascinating tale. [BV]


Observed | October 05

The Japanese fashion designer Kenzo has died of complications from COVID-19, in Paris, his adopted home for more than half a century. He was 81. [JH]


Observed | October 02

The first Monday of every October is World Architecture Day: herewith, American architects choose their favorite Architects and buildings. [JH]

Do you think they provided allen wrenches in 1958? The IKEA museum has posted 70 years of their catalogs. [BV]


Observed | October 01

Wix debuts their bespoke typeface: Madefor. Madefor was designed in collaboration with its in-house studio and type foundry Dalton Maag. [BV]

Alexandra Lange on Wes Anderson: the fixation, the following—and now, the book. [JH]


Observed | September 30

How do you design for the future when the future you are designing for will not exist? [JH]


Observed | September 28

How Biden prepares for the debate of his life: intense preparation, rehearsals, and briefing books—and “he’s a sans-serif man! Mr. Biden has long preferred the Arial typeface,” notes the New York Times, “14 point”. [JH]

“He wanted accurate science, and he wanted great design.” Pioneering science fiction designer Ron Cobb dies at 83. [JH]



Jobs | December 01