learning & institutions

Africa, Where Events Are King. John Thackara talks to Mugendi M’Rithaa

First published in Design Observer. [Introduction] As the global crisis unfolds, interest in alternative economic and social models is growing – and with it, attention to what we might learn from Africa. Most of us in the North are badly informed about a continent that is home to over 900 million people, living in 53 […]

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Next-generation biennials

I just got back from Oslo where their Architecture Triennial has opened. I participated in its main conference, Man Made Tomorrow and will report on that event soon. But ahead of the conference, Bjarne Ringstad, curator of the Triennial, asked me to reflect on how the role of such set-piece events might evolve to match […]

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From philanthrocapitalism to an eco-social economy

(Summer re-run: first published July 2009) This scary hand smashing through the wall to get you is the logo of last month’s Insead conference on social entrepreneurship. Its slogan was “Reaching For Impact”. I’ve written critically here before about the assumptions that underly “design for development” – so I won’t repeat the whole argument. And […]

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Unplugged – or unhinged?

(Summer re-run) I’m reading reading a moving and important book by Sharon Astyk called “Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front”. Uniquely among recent books on life after the Peaks – energy, protein, biodiversity etc – Astyk does not write to scare us all witless. She does not write about elaborate ways to […]

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Traditional knowledge: the dilemmas of sharing

I learn from Kris de Decker’s excellent Low Tech Magazine that an International Traditional Knowledge World Bank (ITKI)has been launched. It’s an ambitious effort to preserve, restore and promote the re-use of traditional skills and inventions from all over the world. Someone has done a lot of work to set this project up. There are […]

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True Cost Design – In Three Steps

design_costs

The text of my talk at the ‘Lens’ conference in Bangalore in 2010.

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Make Sense, not Stuff: A Three Step Plan to Connect Design Schools with the Green Economy

The text of a talk about the green economy for Cumulus, the international network of design schools.

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High entropy? Moi?

When I first came to Tokyo, fashionable parts of the city would be lined with hundreds of heavy taxis sitting in queues with their engines running, for hours on end. Every powered item was always on, 24/7. Tokyo Metropolitan Government has passed a law against idling cars – but this hall of mirrors atrium is […]

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What should Aalto University do, and be?

A major new university is to be named after the Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto. Aalto University which opens in 2010, is the result of a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics (Finland’s top business school, with 4,000 students); the University of Art and Design (one of Europe’s top design and art schools, […]

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