Ecology

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.



Observed | February 14

Welcome to 2019. If you value your privacy, don’t get your Valentine an internet-connected sex toy. [BV]


Observed | February 13

Places Journal’s ongoing series “Future Archive” republishes significant 20th-century texts introduced by a prominent scholar. This installment features J.B. Jackson’s 1976 essay on the American garage from Landscape. [BV]

Can multigenerational home-sharing solve LA’s affordability crisis? Alissa Walker explores what it might mean to age in place in LA. [BV]


Observed | February 12

Cubicles are back, and we have open plan offices to thank. [BV]

As emoji become more detailed in their design, they become less useful for communication. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | February 11

#Longread: The Five Families of Feces—the porta-potty business is as dirty as you’d think. [BV]

The world’s watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail by Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs. [BV]

Photography writes with light, but not everything wants to be seen. [JH]


Observed | February 07

Are we heading towards extreme overpopulation or a decline in humans? Questioning the UN population model. [BV]


Observed | February 06

What if everything you knew about the history of pizza in America was false? [BV]

A special class of vivid, textural words defy linguistic theory: could ‘ideophones’ unlock the secrets of humans’ first utterances? [BV]

Social media has spawned a generation of un-Strunk-and-White-ified people who appear to believe that punctuation is optional, that grammar is for the elderly, and that ending a sentence with a period is a deliberate act of aggression. The guardian of grammar, Benjamin Dreyer, wants that to change. [BV]


Observed | February 05

Innovative interaction design helps Chinese families stay emotionally connected through the Chinese New Year while being geographically scattered. [BV]


Observed | February 04

Was architecture better under socialism? [BV]

Ganbreeder is an experiment using breeding and sharing to explore complex visual spaces. Or, Ganbreeder is a crazy app where you can merge things like a parakeet with a bubble. 17024009+ images and counting. [BV]


Observed | January 31

Saturday Night Live’s cue cards are still created by hand. And they pay attention to whitespace to make sure the cards are readable from a distance! [BV]

In 2014, microbiologists began a 500-year-long science experiment assuming that science—or some version of it—will still exist in 2514. [BV]


Observed | January 30

The World’s Writing Systems allows you to interact with the 292 currently-known writing systems as they are encoded in the Unicode standard. [BV]

A growing crowd-sourced gallery of crazy mass transit fabric patterns. [BV]


Observed | January 29

For six amazing years—from 2006 to 2012—I led the design advisory group on the Citizen‘s Stamp Advisory Committee, with a terrific group of people from all across the country. What a delight to talk about it! [JH]

The 52-year history of the Yale Building project: pushing architecture students out of their studios and into communities they can positively affect. (Support The Yale Herald‘s Kickstarter!) [BV]

Emily Gosling on the magical, imperfect grids of Anni Albers. [MB]


Observed | January 28

The Letterform Archive opened it’s doors in 2015. In 2019 they are opening their virtual doors to a curated collection of over 50,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design, spanning thousands of years of history. [BV]

How does one judge the historic 50 Books | 50 Covers competition? Our jury chair, and Design Observer co-founder, Jessica Helfand talks to The Monocle Weekly. [BV]


Observed | January 24

A talk with Olivier Kugler about his most recent book, “Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters With Syrian Refugees”: a first hand record of the tragic souls who have been forced to leave their homeland and the disappointments, frustrations, and deprivations they’ve experienced as they attempt to make new lives. [BV]

Who owns collusion? In a case that’s a “Russian nesting doll of stupidity,” EFF’s Daniel Nazer defends against an unlikely trademark claim. [MB]

#TBT: 50 years of pizza coverage from the New York Times. [BV]


Observed | January 23

The understudied linguistic science of last words: what people actually say before they die. [BV]

A luxury sex toy industrial designer examines the unfortunate and obvious gender bias demonstrated by the Consumer Electronics Show. [BV]


Observed | January 22

A collection of mathematical typefaces inspired by mathematical theorems or open problems. Most include a puzzle font: reading them is itself a mathematical puzzle. (via Kottke) [BV]



Jobs | February 17