Intended for artists and designers, Design Realities focuses on the creative process. Stuart Walker is a leading thinker in the design for sustainability field, and this strikingly original book offers something to ponder, discuss, contest and build upon.
There are 100 chapters in the book, structured in three parts: Reality, which looks at the current state of the world and as the author puts it, “is an unembellished and somewhat unrelenting recognition of our present estate, which is becoming increasingly untenable.” The second part, Another Reality, discusses things that our modern society tends to devalue or ignore, but which are essential for a more fulfilling, balanced way of life. The final part, A Future Reality offers constructive direction and ideas for recovering, restoring and reinterpreting the purpose of creative activity with a more holistic and positive outlook.
Thought provoking, this exploration takes shape in the form of essays, poetry and photo studies which are seamlessly combined to communicate in a language that creatives relate to, but also make it a highly accessible and enjoyable journey for all.
The collection offers an insight into the creative process and the creative’s mindset and concerns with the world. Words and concepts such as ‘craft ‘n kitsch’, ‘repair’, ‘economy’, ‘design rhapsody’ are deconstructed, not only for the purpose of critique but used as a catapult to reach new understandings.
Each piece is bound to remind us of how concepts are formed and recreated in our minds, which sometimes remains stuck in beliefs that no longer serve us. However, with this work's hopeful and positive message the author shows us that we can, indeed, create new realities not only by engaging with the outer world, but more importantly, by being present in the process of renewal that should be constantly taking place deep within ourselves.
86, Useless Things
Like many people, I love to create things. Above all, I love to create things that are useless; things that are not necessary or efficient. It is true that in the past I have created chairs, but they are not for sitting, and lamps that are not for lighting. I built several radios that have never been listened to, and telephones that have never made a call. While they do work, at a functional level, their function is not their purpose.
Most of what I create nowadays does not even purport to be purposeful. But I don’t think of it as art, though I often get asked if it is. I don’t think of myself as having moved away from design – if anything, I am more deeply immersed in it. I think about design. I also think about art. But I think about design more. I think about design when I am doing what I primarily do, which is reading and writing and researching, teaching and making. All these activities are steeped in thoughts about design not thoughts about art.
And, of course, I don’t have anything against utility. How could I? The idea is nonsensical. It’s just that I prefer to focus my thoughts on other aspects of design, aspects that interest me more. Ever since I got into design, actually long before, I have wondered why we create things in the way we do – why things look the way they do – what this looks means, and especially what it does not mean. A shine that is only skin-deep does not express depth. A finish that is flawless and fragile does not suggest good sense. And I read and write and research and teach and make. And in the making, I think about the meaning of making, and about creating and the aesthetics of purpose, of which utility is but one small part.
Excerpt from Future Realities, Design Realities, p.226.
Design Realities, by Stuart Walker is published by Routledge, and is available in print, eBook and digital format editions.
Stuart Walker is professor of Design for Sustainability and Director of the ImaginationLancaster design research centre at Lancaster University. His research focuses on sustainability, product aesthetics and meaning, practice-based research and product design that explores and expresses human values and notions of spirituality. He is Visiting Professor of Sustainable Design at Kingston University, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada. Twitter: @StuartWalkerUK