Calling upon the vision of design as an agent of change, design critic Alice Rawsthorn explores how designers are ensuring their practice responds to our changed world in which many of our current systems and institutions no longer work, highlighting our design culture’s often troubled and failed relationship with other realms of society.
Known as an eccentric polymath and an individual who strove for principles of sustainability well before his time, Richard Buckminster Fuller’s book has influenced and continues to influence innumerable architects and designers today. Asserting that we must treat our designed world as we would a precious object, Fuller takes the perspective of Earth being humanity’s spaceship that is a unified and interconnected entity.
Revolutionising our perspective on urban life, Charles Montgomery explores the psychological effects of urban planning by critiquing suburban living and advocating various small changes made in a number of cities that have had a big impact in improving communities' health and happiness.
Adichie places feminism in today’s world and draws upon her personal experiences as to what it means to be a woman now. Emphasising that gender is largely a social construct, and that feminism itself is an idea that has been misconstructed, Adichie ends her call to arms with one clear message: ‘All of us, women and men, must do better.’
Fashion journalist Dana Thomas takes a deep dive into the truth behind the increasingly problematic clothing industry. While not only dwelling on the problems with the industry and society’s relationship with clothes, Thomas provides a comprehensive guide to how we can fix this problem. These solutions start with individuals and companies who are striving to remodel the industry and establish circular systems that knock the ever-frequent greenwashing from some corporations out of the water, and instead aim to make a genuine, long lasting impact.
Architect and Wallpaper* Design Awards 2016 judge David Adjaye’s Constructed Narratives is a collection of essays that acts as an informal manifesto reflecting on 25 years of his architectural practice. The book discusses a number of the architect’s projects spanning multiple continents, covering urban design, materiality and various architectural typologies.
Philosopher Emanuele Coccia’s book stands for the consideration of plants as living species that are fundamental for life in our world. Representing 99% of the earth’s total biomass, plants are not getting the cosmological respect and consideration that they deserve, and Coccia discusses their connecting environments, what they contribute to human life and how they shape the places we inhabit.
The ever-growing presence of digital technologies in our lives has led to the loss of physicality and enjoyment of material things and experiences. Glenn Adamson seeks to reverse this, and reminds us of the rewarding and fundamental relationship we have with the physical, non digital objects around us.
In this design manifesto, co-authors Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg question production and consumption of the industry. They argue that newness, so often created purely for newness’ sake, is not a characteristic of design and does not enhance our daily lives. Striving for a change in the mentality behind our relationship with objects, Beyond the New grounds us in the consideration of craftsmanship, contextualisation and innovation in order to differentiate what surrounds us as either objects or things.
Ibram X Kendi’s book poses the argument that to be antiracist one must go beyond merely having an awareness of racism and instead, assertively act upon it and work towards a more just society. The book looks at Kendi’s own personal experiences of racism in America and helps readers see the many forms in which racism pervades our society.
Jane Jacobs’s monumental book traces the failures of urban planning in America, placing the crux of the problems on 1950s urban planning policies. It sets out new principles for bottom-up city planning to rejuvenate neighbourhoods and revitalise formerly abandoned areas.
This book sets out the philosophy that we must detach ourselves from the digital world and the pressures of productivity that come with modern life, and instead re-connect with the natural world around us. Jenny Odell champions the art of doing nothing, as something that can in fact instill more meaningful experiences in us as human beings.
A prescient warning of the ever encroaching future we face that is threatened by climate change, this book reveals the inadequacy in the action mankind has taken up until this point. David Wallace Wells provides a thought-provoking account of the wide-ranging impacts that global warming will have on our environments, health, economy, agriculture and much more.
This book provides a fresh perspective of how to approach our social and ecological systems in order for future generations to flourish. With numerous examples of simple yet effective practices around the world, John Thackara insists upon practical solutions that can better our lives without jeopardising the state of our natural environment.
A re-think of the fundamental principles of economics, Kate Raworth has devised a framework based on seven lessons that are rooted in social behaviour and advocate for the redistribution and regeneration of our economy over our flawed and constant pursuit of growth.
Winner of Best Future Vision of the 2019 Wallpaper* Design awards, Broken Nature, exhibited at the XXII Triennale di Milano, explores how restorative design practices have the potential to salvage humans’ collapsing social orders and bonds with nature. Paola Antonelli, the Senior curator of the department of Architecture and Design at New York’s MoMa, and architect and design curator Ala Tannir address the inevitable extinction of humans through the work of designers, architects and artists from 40 different countries, exploring topics such as farming, electronic and consumer waste, mortality, re-growth, urbanisation and climate change.
Firmly establishing itself as a foundation of feminist literature, Griffin’s prose-poem looks at the historical, religious and scientific literature and language that put women closest to nature, thereby arguing for the dominion of men. Going as far back as Antiquity, Griffin analyses the patriarchal systems in Western philosophy, religion and culture and the effect these have had on women’s experience for hundreds of years.
Uncovering the devastation and destruction to wildlife caused by pesticides in agriculture and farming, is environmental biologist and author Rachel Carson. This groundbreaking book granted rightful attention to the laws that affect land, air and nature, fuelling the environmental movement that is ever present today.
In this richly illustrated book, Mancuso uncovers the complex and often overlooked power of plants to possess human-like qualities through their nervous systems, such as perception of their surroundings, exploration, adaptation, memory and cooperation with other plant species.
Exposing the negative social impact of the internet and digital technologies, author Jaron Lanier, a pioneer of virtual reality, outlines the woes of what he calls ‘cybernetic totalism’.
Providing a glimpse into the innovations of the future, Susan Hockfield highlights the cross-disciplinary efforts necessary for what she describes as the second convergence revolution, ‘Convergence 2.0’. This convergence between biology, engineering and physical sciences (preceded by the first convergence of physics and engineering, which brought the advent of radar, television and radio), will open up new possibilities and scope for innovation.
Addressing the very simple, yet so often forgotten foundations of design: simplicity and functionality are what drive the key message behind this book. Tokyo-born philosopher and art historian Soetsu Yanagi emphasises the importance of objects that are made to last, allowing for the beauty of these honest, wholehearted and everyday objects that surround us to be appreciated and celebrated.
Forming an important part of design literature, the Argentine designer and thinker Tomás Maldonado, who taught at the legendary Ulm School of Design in Germany, formulates a design discourse around science, utopianism and the human environment.
Bringing powerful data to life, Perez unravels the deep-rooted gender imbalance in societies, histories and design that shapes our daily lives. Through her rigorously fact-based points that are supported by endless case studies, Perez challenges the very data that has formed our cultures in which women have been systematically left in the dark, leading to a world that is worse off for all of society. From gender bias in the workplace to design, urban planning, medicine and public life, there are very few spheres in which Perez does not uncover true gender imbalance that has been dismissed for too long.
No doubt a book that takes many back to their design or architecture student days, and a noteable a favourite of Wallpaper* Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Douglas, Papanek’s 1971 classic continues to inspire us today. Considering design as a system and process, as a transdisciplinary integral act that is present in everything that surrounds us, Papanek lays the foundations for responsible design in the modern world.