Working at the intersection of business, technology, sustainability, and design, the former journalist, educator, and director of the Netherlands Design Institute is in the business of meshing innovations that drive social change with design.
As the director of design futures network Doors of Perception, and program director of Dott07, an ambitious, year-long initiative to establish a sustainable region in cities throughout the northeast of England, Thackara is at the forefront of the flourishing sustainable design movement. And as far as he’s concerned, the right question to be asking is, “What might a sustainable world look like?” with a prompt follow-up, “What sort of design actions can we take to get there?”
The author underlines how the project is “rooted in reality rather, and have a purpose other than high-falutin’ idealism,” and how important it is that it is taking place in the struggling, post-industrial northeast of England. “Such willful parochialism is almost unheard of in Britain, where the focus is almost always trained on glamorous London (in the south), or trendy cities such as Liverpool or Manchester, which have embarked on determined, relatively successful rebranding exercises in recent years.” Walters also underlines how Thackara strives for a true collaboration network approach.
Taking a hat tip from one of the people interviewed in the article who says about Thackara that “he is never about the world of design, but always about the design of the world,” Walters then expands her analysis with a long reflection on sustainability and business.