News & Events

Here are developments relating to and significant news and events in the world of co-design and sustainability. If you have a news article you’d like me to host, or an event to post, please email

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First Prize in the European Environmental Design
Awards, category Publishing

24th March 2010

On 24th March 2010, Alastair Fuad-Luke was awarded first prize in the European Environmental Design Awards, best-ed, category Publishing, for The Eco-design Handbook.

This is the inaugural year of these awards supported by DIMAD, La Asociación Diseñadores de Madrid.  You can download a copy of the catalogue here and read all about it in El Pais.

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1st International Congress of Design and Innovation
(CIDIC) of Catalonia

18-19th March 2010, Barcelona

Celebrating its twentieth year, the Escola Superior de Disseny, University of Ramon Llull, Barcelona, is holding its first international congress of design and innovation, CIDIC, focusing on present trends, future design and business innovation and its influence in the reactivation of the economy.
A complementary focus is how design nurtures social progress.  I am presenting a paper entitled ‘Co-design (designing together) can accelerate sustainability transition, social cohesion and nature regeneration.’

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Designing Slow Life
24-25th March 2010, Lahti, Finland

Originally scheduled for 21-22 October 2009 the Designing Slow Life conference kicks off in Lahti, Finland in late March 2010.  It aims to enquire how design ‘might more powerfully contribute to developing services and practices under the Slow Life theme’.  Delegates will experience diverse presentations from the slow movement diaspora and enjoy a Slow Dinner on the evening of 24th March.  I’ll be presenting a paper exploring how design thinking has contributed to visions of positive slowness.

Group at Plymouth College of Arts

MA in Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice

I recently joined Plymouth College of Art, as Programme Leader (0.5 post) for the MA in Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice, which encourages core business skills with entrepreneurial awareness and attitudes in order to accelerate individual and collective modes of working for art, design, crafts and media creative practitioners.  This programme is very much in tune with an observation made by Lucas Dietrich, the General Editor of 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future, that…

‘The future of innovation is no longer in the hands of the scientist, artist or designer working alone in lab, loft or studio….It is a creative, collective, humanist enterprise.’

Collaboration, participation and 'opening out' seem to be a positive trend in the search for creativity that encourages sustainability transition and human flourishing.

Eco-design Handbook Third Ed.

Third edition of The Eco-design Handbook

Released on 5th October 2009, the third edition of The Eco-design Handbook is revised with over hundreds of new products, materials and buildings that represent the leading edge of eco-design worldwide.  Eco-efficiency and life cycle thinking has moved up the agenda of most designers and manufacturers, and action over climate change and ‘peak oil’ are driving fresh opportunities in the ‘eco-‘ and ‘low-carbon’ economies.   This is manifest in everything from furniture and lighting design to mobility products and fashion.  The latest edition of the book also features an emerging trend for more socially conscious or active products and services, plus the usual extensive resources, references and web links.

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60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future

Launched in early November 2009, 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future charts the potentiality of 60 creative thinkers, doers and makers who are redefining current and future ways in which we experience our complex world. In our pluralistic, dynamic globalised economy it is inappropriate to apply one expression to the phenomena that comprise our everyday lives, but they seem to have a commonality grounded in mobilisation (people, information, products), socialisation and democratisation around real, virtual and hybrid spaces – the biosphere, the digisphere and augmented realities where the biosphere and digisphere collide.  In her chapter ‘Beyond Design’

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, Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, the Musuem of Modern Art, NY, indicates that mutant archetypes of designer are emerging focusing on humanism and collective wisdom.  In my own chapter, ‘Green World’, I celebrate diverse eco-preneurs and social entrepreneurs that are re-defining and re-designing systemic approaches to design and enterprise to be more inclusive, participative and ‘bottom-up’.  Messages from the innovators, writers and critics are diverse but there seems to be a meta theme – shaping our creative future is happening by bringing people together in ingenious and meaningful ways.  This is perhaps best summarised by by Lucas Dietrich, the General Editor, who notes that…

’The future of innovation is no longer in the hands of the scientist, artist or designer working alone in lab, loft or studio….It is a creative, collective, humanist enterprise.’

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Greengaged: Design and behaviour change

I participated in the opening Breakfast panel debate at Design For Life: Barriers To Behaviour Change run by Greengaged at The Design Council on 21st September 2009.  Ed Gillespie of Futerra sustainability communications agency DJ’ed the Talkoake session with the panel being tasked with the question, ‘Is it design’s job to save the world?’  Ed’s summary of the discussion involved five key points around language, hierarchy of responsibilities, resource efficiency, consequences of bad design and connections  Dan Lockton, a member of the audience, provides another review on his Design With Intent blog here noting that people are different in respect of the behaviour change strategies they prefer – some might not mind being the ‘pinballs’ of public policy, others want a straightforward easy technological or other shortcut, and yet others comprise a thoughtful public prepared to engage in design processes to achieve the desired results with others. 

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Green Awards

The shortlist for the 4th annual Green Awards for Creativity in Sustainability  was announced on 15th October.  Over 40 shortlisted entries vie to take the top spot in each of 16 categories with the successful winners being announced on Wednesday 18th November 2009 at the LSO St Luke’s, London.   Entrants represented global and national corporations, local authorities, small businesses and social enterprises showing a healthy interest in raising sustainability ambitions even during the current recession.

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Teach-In 2012: Eco-literacy in design education

Tens of universities and hundreds of students worldwide joined the launch of 2012 Imperative Teach-In 2012 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London on 12th October 2009, broadcast live on the internet, aimed at accelerating eco-literacy across the design education spectrumSpeakers included John Thackara, Andrew Simms, Jonthan Crinion, Stephanie Hankey, Richard Hawkins, Ben Gill and Emma Dewberry.  Videos will be released shortly by Eco-Lab, the organisation that co-ordinated the event and you can join the ning group, Design Transition dedicated to disseminating the best way of spreading ecological awareness, access to resources and encouraging pro-active engagement.

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All Our Futures 2

All Our Futures 2 is a sustainable design conference that creates a vibrant platform by bringing together luminaries from sustainability consultancy, the green economy and political movements, and sustainable design.  Hosted by the Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Plymouth, the three day agenda from 15-17 September is packed with some challenging keynotes, papers and participatory sessions.  The overall theme seems to be gathered around how design can lever more positive change and how it can be integrated more with other professional arenas.  My own keynote on 16th September focuses on ‘The co-design approach to accelerate socio- and eco- innovation’.  Other design keynotes include Professor Martin Charter, Centre for Sustainable Design, University of Creative Arts, UK and Beto Lopez, a systems designer at IDEO, Boston, USA.  Established and inspiring voices include John Elkington a founder and non-executive director of SustainAbility and Sara Parkin a founder director and trustee of Forum for the Future.

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Designing Slow Life

The slow movement continues to (slowly) gather momentum and the diversity of design debate continues to enrich the positive slowness theme espoused by sLOW and slowLab.  The Designing Slow Life conference in Lahti, Finland, on 21-22 October 2009 aims to enquire how design ‘might more powerfully contribute to developing services and practices under the Slow Life theme’.  Speakers include Carl Honoré, whose book In Praise of Slowness attracted international attention in 2004, Gian Pangaro who co-leads the Consumer Experience Design group for IDEO Boston, and Dr. Sirkka Heinonen, Professor of Futures Research with Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC) at Turku School of Economics.  I shall also be contributing a talk on 22 October when the overall theme is Design Thinking.  Having coined the term ‘slow design’ in 2002 in a paper entitled ‘Slow design: A paradigm shift in design philosophy?’, delivered at the conference Development by Design in Bangalore, India, I shall be reflecting on how slow design has evolved and is being applied by diverse practitioners.

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Design PhD Conference 2009:
Sustainability, Innovation & Design

ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University and the School of Design’s Centre for Design Research at Northumbria University collaborate on this year’s Design PhD Conference hosted at Lancaster University on 15th and 16th June 2009.  I deliver the keynote talk on 15th June about “The co-design loop for revitalising social, ecological and financial innovation”.  There’s a diverse programme that brings together the latest research from design students all over the UK.  Be there to find out what’s hot and what’s not!

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Whole Life Urban Sustainability and its Assessment

This is the second SUE-MoT conference focusing on the complex sustainability issues of urban development and the complex relationships buildings and supporting infrastructures that support urban life.  It is a collaborative venture between several UK universities and the EPSRC and takes place on 22-24th April 2009 at Loughborough, UK.  There are some last minute places available, so click here to book your place.

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Slow Down London

The slow movement, a diverse array of individuals, organisations and collaborations that see slowness as a positive attribute of sustainable living, is gathering significant momentum as the fantastic events programme at the Slow Down London festival, running from 24 April to 4 May 2009, illustrates.  Activities range from the joy of walking to urban gardening, a Slow Food Market, a talk by Carl Honoré (author of In Praise of Slowness), reflections on slow travel with Harry Eyes and Ed Gillespie and much more.  How does design contribute to Slow Down London?  Visit the web site, attend the festival and see for yourself!

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Leeds Festival of Design Activism

The Leeds School of Architecture, Landscape and Design department, is partnering with a number of educational, media and design industry stakeholders to host the Leeds Festival of Design Activism 02 to 04 July 2009.  Now in its third year, the festival comprises an exhibition, events, a student research symposium and practitioner conference, culminating in a gala event.  The festival welcomes participation from designers, artists, architects, students, performers, activists, observers and ‘socially/environmentally committed creative practices’.  This is an informal, dynamic participative symposium hybridising with a trade fair and discursive forum that gently interrogates design and its contemporary roles

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Design Activism and the MootSpace

My new book, Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World, Earthscan is published in May 2009. This aims to be a comprehensive study of how design-led or design-inspired activism is able to engender positive socio-eco and cultural change, and to ask of the reader, ‘How do you wish to use your design skills for positive change?’ Here are the chapters:

1. Scoping the Territory: Design, Activism and Sustainability;
2. Past Lessons: A Short History of Design in Activist Mode, 1750 to 2000;
3. Global-Local Tensions: Key Drivers for Design Activism in an Unsustainable World;
4. Contemporary Expressions: Design Activism, 2000 Onwards;
5. Designing Together: The Power of 'We Think', 'We Design', 'We Make';
6. Activist Frameworks & Tools: Nodes, Networks & Technology, Tools;

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7. Adaptive Capacity: Design as a Societal Strategy for Designing 'Now' and 'Co-futuring'

In the final chapter I suggest that design needs to find new societal roles where the decisions on what to design, and where, and how, are made in more democratically inspired arenas. I propose the MootSpace, a contemporary reincarnation of the Anglo-Saxon ‘Hundred’ (a gathering to ensure everyone had a voice), as a means to enjoin our collective design intelligence…

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Co-design4… Workshops

It seems one of the pressing questions of the moment is ‘How do we deal with the multiple whammy of global economic recession and the challenge of climate change/resource depletion/ecosystem degradation?’ Well there are some fascinating stories from the emerging trends towards eco- and low-carbon economies

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. The Co-design4… Workshops starting on 1st May 2009 embrace the challenge of developing our economies by co-designing new visions of enterprise and community. The topic couldn’t be more timely after the release of a report by Sir Nicholas Stern and his colleagues’ about the best way to boost economic growth while encourage measures to create “green” stimulus. According to the HSBC Centre for Climate Change, Korea and China lead green investments as a percentage of their economic recovery stimulus packages with 69% and 34% respectively, compared to more modest ambitions from the USA (16% pending) and UK (7% pending). While the Apollo Alliance, for clean fuels and good jobs, suggests that ‘Clean energy can lead a financial recovery’, Come along to the co-design workshops to find out more…

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