This free monthly newsletter starts conversations on issues to do with design for resilience — and thereby reveals opportunities for action. It also brings you news of Doors of Perception events and encounters. Back issues are now archived on Design Observer. To subscribe to future newletters by John Thackara click here.
DOORS OF PERCEPTION 9 on “JUICE” (FOOD, ENERGY, DESIGN)
Doors of Perception 9 takes place in New Delhi at India Habitat Centre on Saturday 3 March. The theme of the conference is “Juice: Food, Energy, Design”. It is followed in the evening by a social technologies bazaar. Doors 9 is preceded by an evening Mediawalla Festival proiduced by Pixelache. On Sunday 4 April all participants are invited a Holi party.
WHY FOOD AND ENERGY AS AN ISSUE?
Global food systems are not sustainable. Industrialised food consumes ten times more energy in production and distribution than enters our bodies as nutrition. In 'developed' countries, the food consumption of a single family generates eight tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. This madness is enabled by non renewable fossil fuel. But what to do? Doors 9 breaks the food systems issue into bite-sized design chunks.
WHY THE THEME “JUICE”?
To do things differently, we need to perceive things differently. How we think about food is as important as the design steps we take to change the system. Food continuously circulates through the landscape into our homes and bodies; it thereby organizes our calorific, symbolic and social energies. In south Asian cultures juice, the essence of food, can also mean credit, electricity, access, flavor, and love. Doors 9 is about food as metaphor as well as system - as culture, as well as consumption.
DOORS 9 CONFERENCE PROGRAMME (Saturday 3 March)
Doors 9 opens with a introduction to the relationships between food, energy and design by Hannu Nieminen (Finland, Nokia), Aditya Dev Sood (India, Centre for Knowldge Societies), Debra Solomon (Netherlands, culiblog.org) and John Thackara (France, Doors of Perception). Session 2 is about food in cities: Dutch architect Winy Maas (MVRDV) proposes three-dimensional agriculture, with a reference to pig cities. Urban designer Andre Viljoen explains his book about Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes (CPULS). David Barrie and Nina Belk describe their urban farming project for Designs of the time (Do0tt 07) in the UK. Designers Sanjeev Shankar and John Vijay Abraham compare old and new traditions of street food. Chris Hardwicke (Toronto) and Ron Paul (Portland) discuss farmers markets as hubs within food systems. Session 3 is on food information systems. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, ponders new ways to think about browsing for food. Divya Sharma looks at food maps. Ellis Neder (USA) and Ian Brown (Fair Tracing, UK) look at identity management and food certification systems. Session 4 of Doors 9 is on “juice”. Designers Jogi Panghaal and Ezio Manzini discuss the different ways European and Asian cultures think about food. Alex Steffen and Sarah Rich (editors Worldchanging: A User’s Guide to the 21st Century) describe small and large scale changes already under way with Walter Amerika, an advisor to multinational food companies. Session 5 of Doors 9 (yes, it’s a full day, but there’s food throughout) is a social technologies bazaar featuring innovative food-related projects from around the world. Among those you will meet are: Garrick Jones (UK, Ludic Corporation); Georg Christoph Bertsch (Germany, Cargo Bathing); Giovanni Canata (Italy, DxH2O water project); Claire Harten (USA) and Maria Wedum (Denmark), Dirt Cafe; Kultivator (Sweden, agriculture as art); Dori Gislason (Iceland, new lives for fishing villages); Francesca Sarti (Italy, food kiosks in Florence); Marije Vogelzang (Netherlands, Proef project); Maja Kuzmanovic (Netherlands, Groworld) ; Margie Morris (USA, Intel, food repositories).
Plans for a street-level new media happening during Doors 9 are being developed in some secrecy by Juha Huuskonen and Aditya Dev Sood. We know its name - Mediawalla Festival, or MWF – and that it’s inspired by the mythical wedding procession of Radha and Krishna. MWF is, we hear,“a collaborative interpretation of ritual in the public space”. Featured artists will include Leandro Pisano and Alessandro Esposito (interferenze.org) who will present projects from molleindustria.it. Delhi Air Traffic Control has been alerted that Usman Haque will float into town on his magic carpet:
DOORS OF PERCEPTION 9
Further annoncements, together with details on how to register:
DOTT 07 FESTIVAL (14-28 October)
The best way to experience the full range of Dott07 activities will be during a two week festival in Newcastle-Gateshead. You will encounter all those who have taken part in Dott’s projects and events, and Creative Community Awards (The Commies) will be given in recognition of outstanding achievement. Special presentations will feature Sociable Objects (Ulla-Maria Maartinen) and a daily skills bazaar in which visitors may consult a multitude of experts in 20 minute increments.
WHAT IS DOTT FOR?
Two hundred and fifty regions in Europe (and many more worldwide) are in search of a shared vision to inspire economic and cultural renewal. In Dott 07, the abstract idea of sustainability becomes a concrete question:“how do we want to live?” By the end of 2007, some Dott 07 projects may evolve into enterprises; people in the region will have learned, by doing it, new approaches to social innovation; a further legacy will be platforms for ongoing social innovation – such as places, hubs, and support schemes.
MAPPING THE NECKLACE (5-7 May, Durham)
Could a public park be more than grass and benches? Durham’s Necklace Park is a 12 mile stretch of spaces – and experiences - linked to the River Wear. You create your own park by mapping tracks, forests, picnic and fishing spots. You can prepare routes in advance, online - or swap ideas with fellow visitors once you are there. Durham Necklace Park is yours to re-create. The project is led by Susan Williamson with Claire Lancaster. Dates: 5-7 May 2007.
LOW CARB LANE
More of us would like to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, especially at home. But how? Wind turbines? Geothermal? Fuel cells? Solar panels? Wood-chip boilers? There are so many competing proposals that it’s hard to decide. It’s also hard to pay: few people can afford to invest, on their own, in off-grid equipment. Low Carb Lane, which is led by Live|Work, tackles these challenges head-on in a real street: Castle Terrace in Ashington. The community is exploring the potential to achieve warm homes in ways that reduce their carbon footprint and also save them money.
Year eight students in 80 schools across the North East of England have been invited to map their school’s ‘carbon footprint’. Having identified which aspects of their school’s systems and activities are wasteful, they will soon propose the re-design of their school’s key systems to reduce its impact on the environment. The 50 best schools will further develop their plans with the help of professional designers. The best designs will be eligible for awards at the Dott Festival in October. If you would like to be considered as one of those designers working with the schools (as a volunteer) please contact project leader Nick Devitt:
How many materials are wasted during the manufacture of a hairdryer? Or a car? Dott and Design and Art Direction (D&AD) have issued a challenge to communication design students: Develop a ‘Stuff-O-Meter’ to help us all understand more about the “hidden rucksack” of everyday products. Competitors will design a visual representation of the lifetime use of material resources, from cradle to grave, of a household durable product. The best designs will be presented at the Dott Festival in October.
What should the design priorities be when a school is rebuilt? During the next 15 years, 3,500 UK schools will be rebuilt or refurbished in an £80m programme called Building Schools for the Future (BSF). Dott07 has teamed up with a real school – Walker Technology College – to ask: how best should the money be spent when their turn comes? In a project led by Engine, Walker is setting up a Future School Lab within its existing building. The Lab will be a place where design ideas are developed and discussed among the school community.
What practical steps are needed to improve daily life for people with dementia and their carers? Dementia affects 750,000 people currently in the UK – rising to an expected two million by 2050. This project, led by Thinkpublic for Dott and the Alzheimer’s Society, is investigating everyday problems experienced by Alzheimer’s patients and carers. The project enables people with Alzheimer’s and their carers to document a “day in our life”. These documents will become opportunity maps on which are marked practical things that need to be fixed. Where new with support systems, or devices, are needed, the project will make design proposals.
DESIGN AND SEXUAL HEALTH
Sexual health clinics can be so unwelcoming that people who need to visit them, don’t. The UK government has given local authorities money to improve their buildings and services. Dott is working with Gateshead Council and Louise Hulton (Options) with Jennifer Singleton on the DaSH (Design and Sexual Health) project. Its about design actions to make sexual health services easier to access, and use.
THE CYBORG SHOW: ME, OR MACHINE? (August-October)
Who designs your body? This controversial exhibition, curated by Andrew Chetty, features prosthetic body parts: ears, eyes, skin, limbs, organs. They are joined by robots designed to look after old people - or to perform surgical operations. You will experience devices designed to connect our bodies and minds to networks, or try on smart textiles and wearable computing. The event invites you to discuss the question: Is this a future we want? Newcastle, Discovery Museum.
Based in Tees Valley, the project will get people growing their own food in small medium and large urban growing spaces. These will range from window boxes to larger planter boxes and low sided skips. Meal Assembly Centres, or MACs, will be established to show growers how best to prepare their produce. The project, led by David Barrie with Debra Solomon and Nina Belk, will culminate in one big ‘Meal for Middlesbrough’ which will involve all the individuals, schools, businesses, farms and communities which have taken part. (This project will also feature at Doors 9 in New Delhi).
FOOD INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Doors teamed up with the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Designs of the time (Dott07) to sponsor a competition in the 2006-2007 RSA Design Directions competition. Our two competition themes were food information systems, and sustainable tourism. Winners will be selected in London this month by jury members Emily Campbell (Critish Council), Hilary Cottam, Professor Anthony Dunne (Royal College of Art), Rob Holdway (Giraffe Innovation), Natalie Jeremijenko, Ulla-Maria Maartinen (thinglink), Dorothy Mackenzie, Steve Messem (Fold Gallery), Lesley Morris (Design Council), Debra Solomon (culiblog.org), John Thackara (Doors of Perception).
PICTURE HOUSE @ BELSAY HALL (May-October)
Visiting an English country house will never be the same again. An extraordinary array of artists has been commissioned by Judith Hall for English Heritage for a spectacular event called Picture House at Belsay Hall, one of the region’s finest country estates. Juha Huuskonen, for Dott 07, invited celebrated new media artists to instal digital works as part of the show. Picture House opens on 5 May 2007.
What do we see, and what do we experience, on arrival in a region? For The Welcomes, Stella Hall is inviting artists and designers to re-make places, situations, and experiences. Their work will feature in airports and railway stations, motorway cafes, on mobile phones. Prepare to be surprised!
How happy are we? The news - and politicians - can often be downbeat. In Vital Signs, artists and desigers have been asked by Forma for Dott 07 to create a well-being ‘dashboard for the North East’. State-of-the-art infographics on huge displays - and in surprising other places – will start a thousand conversations.
Fifty-five percent of the UK workforce does not have a job in the 9-5, Monday-Friday sense of the word. Dott’s NewWork project (nicknamed “Working Life After Starbucks”) is about practical design steps to improve the day-to-day experience of people who are self-employed or have a micro-business. Many people who work from home are isolated and could do with places to go to meet each other; they need help accessing the government’s 300+ assistance schemes; and they would benefit from exchanging skills and services with each other on a local basis.
DESIGN CAMP ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM (September)
Could there be more to tourism than staring at strangers, flopping on beaches, and shopping? In September 2007, teams of young designers spanning multiple disciplines will develop radical alternatives to mainstream tourism. Steve Messem of Fold Gallery will coordinate projects for ‘in-between’ locations: medieval army barracks, disused coal mines, cooling towers, fishing ports. Projects may include twenty-first century youth hostel, extreme sport nature parks, find-and-cook food trails, meetings beyond the convention centre, mapping local knowledge.Teams will present their proposals to a jury of design professionals, entrepreneurs and local citizens. The best projects will feature at the Dott07 Festival in October 2007. A Call for participants will be made later this month.
ALSO SHOWING (October)
Dott has partnered with the region’s existing design annual, DE07, to present the following events and exhibitions, also during October: From The Earth We Came (graphic design on the streets); Our Friends In The North (graphic design show); Design For Science (world class scientific visualization at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens); Launch + Designed&Made (in Newcastle Fire Station); Re-Design | Design Contains; Decompression (Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland); Matthias Bentsson (National Glass Centre, Sunderland); Gareth Pugh (Arts Centre, Washington); Talking Cities (Urban Drift exhibition from Berlin, see below).
TALKING CITIES (October)
How might the forgotten corners of post-industrial cities be rescued? This trans-disciplinary exhibition was conceived by Francesca Ferguson for Urban Drift at the spectacular coal-washing plant at Zeche Zollverein, in Germany. It looks at the ways marginal, residual and neglected public spaces, and brownfield sites, can be reconfigured and reactivated. For the North East of England version of the show, architects and urban designers will add proposals for the region to complement proposals shown in Germany. October, North East England.
CONFERENCE ON PROFESSIONAL DESIGN PRACTICE
What are the new ways professional designers will work in the future, and how should design education best prepare them? This international conference will discuss these questions in the context of lessons learned during Dott projects.The conference is jointly organised by Dott, the Design Council UK, and Northumbria University. Kevin McCullough is conference director; Core 77 and Blueprint are media partners. 25, 26 November 2007 (to be confirmed), Newcastle.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN DOTT
The Dott 07 website, and its monthly email newsletter, will announce events and opportunities for participation.
PIXELACHE 2007, HELSINKI (March-April)
Shortly after arriving back from India, the Pixelache team bring you the 2007 edition of Europe’s most edgy and interesting festivals of electronic arts and subcultures. Highlights include a seminar on Architecture for Participation; a spectacular Nordic VJ Meeting / VJ Jamming Session; an island party; Prix Möbius Nordica interactive media competition; and a wide variety of DIY art + tech that involve generative art and design, open hardware and circuit bending, self-made VJ software demonstrations. There is also be a trip to Turku for the ‘Digitally Yours’ exhibition at Ars Nova & Aboa Vetus museum featuring works from Finnish and international media artists .Wednesday 28 March – Sunday 1 April 2007, various venues, Helsinki.