John Thackara – In the bubble, design in a complex world

Thackara is a design teacher, director of Doors of perception in Amsterdam and Bangalore and he writes about what a sustainable future could look like. 

The book in the Bubble describes how our life has evaluated from relaxed and reflection into more and more speed and stuff. He pleats for thinking before making, rephrasing before taking things as they are and human centered before maker centered.

He illustrates his ideas with very simple examples that actually stand for a very complex man made system. I’d like to name one or two. The book begins and half way again he comes back at the place where he is sitting in his car in an endless line of trucks. He starts wondering, and explaining, that this is one row of trucks, imagine all the trucks that are send all over the world. This amazement builds up to the quest to produce and source lighter. The second example is questioning smart objects, the internet and digitizing our world. The simple example is a house thermometer that is keeping a house at a perfect temperature all day long. But because the skins of the houses are not well made we need to keep adding heat to have a warm home rather than improving the house’s skin we have chosen to give more force, and energy, to the heating system. Is that really smart? Or are penguins, that heat and cool when needed by using their feathers, smarter?

Not just digital areas are touched. Thackara has a holistic view on all sides of designs such as buildings, communication, health systems, sourcing materials, school and speed. The missing links are the exchange of knowledge and tools from one industry to another. Not just that, the way we demand things has often to do with how we’re missing the actual point. For example: do we demand to be quicker to one another? Or should we say: we want to bring people closer? In essence he keeps wondering how we ended up in a system where such a small amount of people are represented and is exhausting our world and our brains.

Mister Thackara, I would love to meet you, just to start drawing with a big group of designers how our world is at the moment. To understand our systems and to see where we can break in and make an alteration.

Service design, design management and product design are some of the fields I will walk around in. While I am here I hope to be able to make sure I am not exhausting our planet. In the bubble, burst the bubble, next to the bubble, however I am able to put it I wish to reorganize to find smarter options to innovate.

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