mobility & design

Speed? What Speed? Prisoners of Speed, by Ivan Illich (Part 3 of 3)

In 1996, Ivan Illich (above) agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam on the theme of  ‘speed’. The philosopher-educator surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. Their contributions are as  fresh today as when we heard them in Amsterdam – so we are running […]

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Speed? What Speed? The Falcon, by Sebastian Trapp (Part 1 of 3)

Reflecting on the ways that swallows move about the earth reminded me of the time, in 1996, when Ivan Illich agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam. Our theme that year was ‘speed’. The philosopher surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. […]

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Green Tourism: Why It Failed And How It Can Succeed


Packaged mass tours account for 80 percent of journeys to so-called developing countries, but destination regions receive five percent or less of the amount paid by the traveller. For local people on the ground, the injustice is absurd: if I were to pay e1,200 for a week long trek in Morocco’s Atlas mountains, just e50 […]

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Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City

[The chart above is from the online catalogue of cargo bikes at Nutzrad] India’s many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation, and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs. As an ecosystem, they’re also part of the metabolism that makes a city smart. That said, cycle commerce […]

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Virtual Boring Agent

I’ve seen this Virtual Boarding Agent a couple of times now at Orly Airport in Paris. A It’s a life-sized, life-like, two dimensional human figure that talks pleasantly about liquids and gels. It’s spooky, clever, and very well executed – and most people seem to ignore it after a first casual glance. I therefore feel […]

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A smooth journey

Two images have preoccupied me in recent days. The first one [below] was taken in a lounge at Paris airport. I remember being struck by the intense design effort that had been made to create a controlled and insulated environment. On the tv screen were images of the popular revolt that is unfolding, bloodily, in […]

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If it’s not the destination, and it’s not the journey…

A study by Transportation Alternatives found that up to 45 percent of traffic in an area of Brooklyn was caused by cars circling the streets looking for parking. And in 2006, UCLA professor of urban planning Donald Shoup calculated that, within a year, vehicles searching for parking in a small business district in LA consumed […]

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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, for it was back in 1899 that La Jamais Contente (“The Never Satisfied”) became the first vehicle to go over 100 km/h (62 mph) at Achères, near Paris. Since then, as we produced hundreds of millions […]

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Leave nothing but footsteps

Three years ago German photographer Thomas Kalak published a book called Thailand – Same same, but different!. Featuring all manner of bamboo scaffolding, knotted aerial lines, hand painted signs, or converted plastic bags, the book celebrated the Thais’ exceptionally gifted art of improvisation. The strange objects and arrangements reminded Kalak of art world “ready-mades” from […]

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