What might characterise an ethics of metadesign?

Transcript from his talk at the colloquium on metadesign on 29th June 2007

By Clive Dilnot

Three statements as I begin: The first one is a sort of cultural geography. Some of you may still be able to tell from my accent that I was born in West Yorkshire. Its probably the most pessimistic place in the world. Its black, I mean its grey most of the year, but anyway our sense of humour is only black, and pessimism is bred in one. I actually think that I live in the United States now simply because I need this dose of optimism. So this pessimism you will see invades my talk. I warn you.

Second thing is, the talk is very abstract. In many ways, I kind of work as an embryonic kind of amateur philosopher, I sometimes think, and amateur social theorist, and I did actually do some graduate work in both those areas. But everything I am going to say is underpinned with an interest in physical things. I still stay within design, I don’t work within philosophy, I still work within that field. And, really, it is actually things and their qualities and resonance that ultimately is a touchstone for me. So in everything I am saying, although it sounds abstract, there is this concern for the nature of things. The kind of things that, in many ways, was talked about this morning and that was very important.
Third point was, there was a lovely term in Naomi’s paper, which I can’t remember quite the context now, but it was ‘Constructive Discontent, and that’s actually lovely and describes what I would like to attempt to do, its certainly discontent.
So let’s just start from a condition which I think most of us felt, being presented with the idea of a Metadesign conference, which was a complete uncertainty to as what Metadesign was. And as somebody who deals with philosophy of design, in fact, I found it very difficult, too. But it describes, for me, an intuition, which to some extend is grasped in the first sentence of John’s introduction in the preparatory notes, and I’ll just read it back, you have all read it but it says this: “Famines, dramatic disturbances, biodiversity losses, and resource wars are looming. Ideally, we need a miracle, because orthodox methods of politics, science and industry are failing to resolve these problems. Design thinking works differently where government supply bureaucratic sanctions, fiscal constraints and legislation, design can create beneficial affordances”.
Now, I take that, that to me is almost the essence of the intuition, which lies behind, I think, John’s concept of Metadesign, and what we are talking about now. There are three things in that statement, if we unpack it a bit. First, is that sense that the circumstances today, that means, the impending, or possible, or, in my view, the highly likely, crisis that we face are such that another way of doing things, meaning doing things in general, not just design, doing things in the world, in general, another way of making the world, is absolutely needed, is objectively needed. Second point, is the sense of the beneficial affordances, that design has something special to offer here in respect of how we might deal with this crisis, socially, economically, and politically, as well as in design terms. It’s a sense that design might, in some way, augment, augment politics, augment economics, in some way. And even act at extreme, not an extreme that I can go to yet, replace government and economics.
Now, the third point that we can unpack from John’s initial statement is that this intuition about Metadesign is ambiguously connected to design as we know it, professional design. The idea of Metadesign, of what we have been talking about, the idea of this wider sphere of design, seems to be something that both grows out of design as a whole, but exceeds it, goes beyond it in some way. But in some way that we haven’t been yet able to fully articulate.

So these are the three conditions and they really add to perhaps a fourth condition which is replication of the first, which is: “Metadesign” and let’s leave that in inverted commas as something that we are questioning, and which goes beyond professional design, precisely because circumstances have changed, which means that in very profound ways history has changed. And that is what I want to actually try to talk about, and then bring it back to design. So that’s what my talk will be. And I am going to run through a complex set of ideas more or less as fast as I can.
So, let me start off by taking a step or two backwards to the almost anthropological condition. One of the conditions of the present and the emerging future is that, in my view, we are beginning to be aware, in a slightly different way than we have been in previous human history, of the frailty of human beings, and let me explain this. Frailty, which has its other side as resilience, so there are two sides but let me explain Frailty. In many ways, we are beginning to understand that human beings are neither exceptional, in the traditional religious sense, we were not somehow created by God, and here is the natural realm. Nor are we animals in any purely simpler way. We are clearly, in Darwinian terms, a continuity with animal species, but we are also a discontinuity. In fact, and I think the best way of thinking of discontinuity with animal species, is to see us as failed animals. The fall from the Garden of Eden, the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, is our failure as animals. It is our failure to live within given environments. Ken was talking a lot about Eco-mimicry, which is fundamental, and taking that one step back it’s the ability of any animal to live within the context it is given. Unless the conditions of that context change and they die. But within the conditions, it adapts itself and lives, that provides stability. We don’t as human beings. We are failed animals, we have an inability to live with the environment that we are given. As a compensation, because we are broken from the purely instinctive relationship with the environment, we are broken from nature per se, and we are broken and we adapt, as compensation for that break, self-consciousness, the ability to reflect on our existence and artifice, the ability to materially transform our environment, to move – as Herbert Simon would put it – from given to preferred situations.
And these two conditions of consiousness and artifice are very interesting, because they are indicative of once our fail and our resilience, of our human success being spread in the entire globe and the fragility of that which we have created. A very complex dialectical play.
Now, both self-consciousness and artifice are clearly fundamentally related to our existence as human beings. Self-consciousness is obviously most evident, is most manifested at least in the classical view, in terms of thought and language. Language is a very marker, it is said, of who we are. Artifice is more ambiguous. Artifice, there is a tendency, especially within though, to split artifice and thought, split them apart, but to split self-consciousness and artifice, to give one, to exalt one above the other. This is one of the results of Greek philosophy. The one point that unites Plato and Aristoteles is the denigration of the working man, the man who makes the artifice… both of them do it in different ways. In contrast to this, but in the same condition, is that we ourselves actually exalt objects which bring together artifice and self-consciousness in acute ways. We preserve Gothic cathedrals, for example, which are probably some of the most complex artifice ever made on the face of the Earth. Unimaginable for us to have the ability to create successfully what the medieval craftsmen did, and when we rightly preserve those.
Now, the second condition of our artifice is that, as human history progresses, with the rise of artifice, there is also a huge ambiguity towards artifice. It is both that which makes us and which we make, and yet look at the dictionary definition of artificial - it has nothing but negative connotations. The synonyms for artifice are negative and the antonyms are positive. We exalt nature at the price of harvest and yet… but there is a split here, a disconnect which is very powerful and deep.
And this disconnect in manifested in increased dependency on the artificial and a disconnect between emotional and cognitive attitude to the made world. We have difficulty in dealing with the made world. To put it simply in a way, our thoughts and consciousness have not kept pace with the fact that the world is now, in all terms and purposes, so, the horizon, the meaning of the world, is not language, is the artificial. We live, in effect, in an entirely artificial world, we have no nature and I mean that in a very fundamental sense.

Now, I can sumarize the shifty thinking in three little diagrams…(drawing on board):
H stands for the human world, N for Nature, A is obviouly artifice. Throughout most of human history until 1800, this is really the condition, artifice is essential to our condition of life but what we give entire precedence to is human action, humanity. Look, here is our university… still humanities and basically, sciences, human action and law, law Cambridge and Stanford and so on, and so on.
1800+: The rise of the artificial, it begins to impede upon.
1945+: The human and the natural world within the artificial world, arguably to some extent. And I chose 1945 obviously deliberately, because we ask now about pre-conditions which we now find ourselves within; I just said and I will defend this argument very strongly, that, really, there is no more nature, that for us there is only artifice, there is only what we have created. The second point is really interesting, and apparently, we have absolutely not come to terms with, which is - we are interested in most of human history, very much interested, in law, natural laws, religious laws, we are interested because we feel that if we know the laws of the universe, if we know the laws of the world, then if we obey these laws, we will be happy, and share all the ten commandments with E=mc2. Look at this realm here.
There are no laws in artifice, that chair has to obey physical laws, but the configuration of the chair has not been determined by a law, nor can it be. There is no ten commandments for the configuration of things, there are only the congifuration of things, there are only chairs, there is no A chair. Inverse of what Plato argued, there is no essential table that the craftman makes, there are only tables. Now, that conditions of no law, which is anarchy in its most serious sense, is something that we both live with as designers, and yet don’t actually think about.
The third point, which comes to 1945 and also 1800, are the breaks with past and present. Up until 1800… Past, present and future flow in a continuity, despite there may be wars, disasters and so on. Fundamentally, we know there will be human continuity and the sense is that we will be largely recurrent in traditional societies.
Roughly 1800, in my view, marks the point in which industrialization has happened and all that is solid dissolves. The point of which, the past, is past in a way, and there is a gap, a fundamental gap here, between present and past. The Victorian obsession with history, that desperate attempt to get back to the past, because you know you have lost it. 1945 for us, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, really the age bomb in the 50s, marks the point at which, there is a disconnect with the future, we cannot assume a continuity to the future, so we are now caught in a kind of no necessary organic relationship to the past, we have no necessary relation to the future, we are not really sure about the future. If you now think how uncertain we are about the future, who would plant trees now? who would easily plant trees? Who has that long-term mentality, it is difficult to think in those terms, we actually are caught as many of us feel, in a kind of perpetual process. Now, I think these conditions are fundamental and we haven’t yet thought them through, they are unprecedented, in my view, in human terms.

So, discontinuity which we haven’t got yet, we havent yet understood the nature of what has happened to us, and above all, we haven’t understood or accepted the fact that ours is a made world and that we made it, and that we have to take responsibility for it. We haven’t really internalised that, and that is part of our problem. It’s part of our bad faith. That’s why we produce – in my view – such bloody awful artefacts. That’s why the world is a pile of shit by enlarge. It is ugly, and it is nasty, with a few exceptions, because we haven’t learnt how to deal well with the fact that we have made the world.

It means also – most seriously for us right now – that we understand neither the crisis nor the opportunities which are presented to us.
Let me look at the crisis as an opportunity briefly.
I talked about the crisis in April, in Ismir, at a paper which John heard, which managed to severely depress most people, which is what it was intended to do. Mostly because I think that we face, what I call ‘the four new horsemen of the Apocalypse’, the traditional four horsemen of the Apocalypse, probably you remember how they are translated; roughly speaking; War, Death, Famine and Pestilence; very difficult to actually translate from the book of Revelations, but roughly speaking. My four new horsemen are; one is what we have been talking about - the ultimate unsustainability of what is; secondly, the increasing inequality, the legitimation of greed, the overriding economy of exploitation, and practically somehow, is this whole notion of the economy as the metaphor, not really the metaphor, but through the model of mining. We live in an extractive economy, and I am very interested in John´s term of the entrepreneurial, and that implication of taking from. The third horseman in the Apocalypse, and in some ways, humanely, one of the most serious, is disposability, which means waste, but also the idea of the disposability of persons. I am shocked at the way that now, coming back to Britain after so much time, how the poor in Britain are increasingly, you can tell by reading through the lines of the newspapers, “the other”… they belong to a realm who are ultimately disposable. And I think we are in a situation where we are consigning whole sectors of the world to ultimate disposability. Would anybody shed a tear if the population of Africa would dissappear tomorrow? Be honest. (to one person in audience) You would, because you have a vested interest…
My most horrible prediction for the 21st Century is that there will be demographic disasters and genocides on a scale that dwarf those the 20th Century, and that is a prediction that I hope doesn’t come true, but I think it will. I think, within a culture of disposability, and of seeing persons as excess to. Fourth condition is violence and barbarism, and it will have torture and the legitimation of torture as its emblem.

Now these four, the first two which are made mostly causes, the second two are slightly symptoms; are in themselves very serious, they are kind of potent disaster in themselves. Thy are may worth, in that implications, in my view, by four underlying conditions that make the resolution of these four potential crisis very difficult indeed.
The first, replicates one of the others, which is the absolute dominance of the economy. And it is also, what it seems to be the converse moment of that, which is really just fundamentalism. This absolute attention to value as the opposite, these two seem, to me, to be linked.
The second one is the inhibition of our abilities to learn and to, in terms of problem solving, in terms of large scale world crisis, and the problem here, if anybody has looked at systems theory, and the way in which the system defines itself in terms of certain identities, as our does in terms of capital economic values, can only have a very small range of permitted possibilities to solutions or answers to problems. It only permits, and in my view, it only permits a too small range of answers to problems, to be successful. So instead of developing, generally, our learning capacities, to deal with emerging crisis we are actually having a falling rate of abilities to solve problems.
Thirdly, the destruction of the public sphere, that is to say, the elimination of nearly every realm of discourse within which we can tackle social problems outside of an economic or a market framework, and that includes government, which is simply now enthralled to economic forces, as indeed is our new British administration, there is no difference there.
Fourth point is, what is best summarized by what Walter Benjamin, at the end of the famous essay “the work of art at the age of mechanical reproduction”, there is an epilogue, where Benjamin talks, quite brilliantly, in two-three sentences, which are really worth going back to. He talks about the disjunction between the development of technological forces (that’s written in 1935 or 36), and the lack of social maturity in dealing, managing, or organising these forces, and he says, this disjunction between these two moments, has its converse in the unsophistication and crudity of technology, vis-à-vis human needs. He says technology is insensitive to human and therefore, instead of technology, as if it were being sensitive to what we need, it forces us to adapt to it.
Now, these four or five conditions, which almost summarize around that earlier idea of discontent with what we have made, make the solution of all the problems that we are implicity aware of, extremely difficult. And yet, and yet… to save you all from catastrophic depression, we are at the same moment trying to look at the unprecedented opportunities.
In fact, actually, I think one sign of our crisis is that we don’t fully understand, we are not even able to grasp what these opportunities and possibilities are. And yet there are many thinkers who have tried to look at this, and have constantly formulated it in terms of crisis and possibility. Heidegger famous formulation, poetic and somewhat a jargon of authenticity, “where the danger grows, so too does the saving power”, it is the famous Heidegger´s poetic rendetion, which means that within the danger yet something else is.

John Lock Nancy, more recently, has written a book where he poses Globalisation and what he calls “Mondialisation”, it is kind of untranslatable “the world” or “worldilasation” and where he contrasts globalisation, as the economic carbinary of crisis, and Mondialisation as the possibility of world creation, in terms of values and forms, which are beyond the economic. Gianni Vattimo, in one of my favourite sentences that he writes, says that, really, artifice presents us with an unprecedented chance to become finally human. Lovely term, what does he mean?

There is something here where, at the same time, as we face this, we can become human. Well, the answer is, if we think about Vattimio and what I am going back to, about human beings being created out of self-consciousness and artifice. Then with the point at which we arrived, in effect, we are living within our world, we are therefore potentially within our world. Literally our environment, our world. So in a sense, that potential of that kind of symbiosis is quite remarkable if we are capable of articulating it. If.

Now, I want to emphasize the fact that we are, as Heidegger might put it, destined to artifice, that we have no another chance. There is no way of going back to nature, there is no way of recovering some A authenticity. The only way to go into the future is the realistic acceptance of ours as a world made, and we as world makers.
If we want to create a relationship to nature, then we have no choice but to do it now through artifice. Artifice is the way to nature. There is no direct way to nature. It doesn’t exist anymore and it is an illusion to think it is. So, our job is to attune our relations with nature and our relations with things, and our relations with persons such that they don’t become catastrophic to us. Now, what is the relationship of all this to design?
If we look at the crisis that I have just listed: the four horsemen and then the four-five conditions, if we look at the list and the possible relationship to design, we can see that the direct relationship of design to this crisis is very limited, but it is not necessarily irrelevant.

We might say that the most promising way in which design might make a direct application to those crisis tendencies, would be what I describe as condition for the disconnect between technical forces and social immaturity, also manifested in the insensitivity of technology to human beings. That seems to be a condition that design should, in theory, be able to address. And we may then argue that if that were addressed, it may begin to be easier to help everybody to be able to contend with what we have made, and it might be easier to develop the requisite learning capacities, and it might be easier to develop the kind of public sphere we need in order to have the kind of political, social, culture discourse we need in order to get out of the catastrophy, towards a more humane future. And in turn, the development of that set of capacities in those fields may seem to bear upon how we can begin to think about overcoming of the problems of unsustainability, and the absolute dominance of economic values. In turn, that might help us to deal with those fundamental conditions, which I talked about earlier, the kind of human catastrophies that are waiting for us: greed, inequality, exploitation, disposability and barbarism, that we might be able to do that.

Now, that is, if you like, the optimistic reading of a kind of sequence of moves by which we could imagine creating a future. The problem, the obvious observation to make, is the acute disproportion between the marginal status and the role of professional design in the world, (given by the fact that we are only 25 people in this small room here in a world of 10 billion or whatever the popullation is now), and the scale of the problems and possibilities outlined here. The disproportion is so acute that it almost makes it laughable, the idea that design can solve this. However, the disproportion is so acute to even suggest that design might engage with crisis, like one of those famous statements that were once popular that design is everything, which was an over-inflation of the statement which actually wasn’t very helpful in dealing with that. There is a feeling that this could be the case. Now, the problem with this sense, is that, of course, it leads to a kind of ‘defeatism’ that we can do nothing, or ‘retreatism’ that we pull back into what we are. The intuition of Metadesign, the intuition that I opened with, one of John´s sentences, is surely that there is a potential relationship between what is within design or what is emblematized by design, and I think both conditions are properly, and how we come to terms well, in human terms, with artificiality.
Now, on what is that intiution based? How could we articulate that intuition? If you look through the notes that John prepared for this meeting, you can sense that within what he is talking about and how he identifies what each of us are going to talk about, in my view, that I used the term capacities or capabilities is central to the creation of a humane future. Now I think this intuition for creating Metadesign therefore in this view, will be something like the articulation and the elucidation of potential human capacities, which are in some manner implicit within design or emblematized by design, not necessarily unique to design but which design brings together.

Now in the last few minutes I have got, see if I can actually articulate that, even very briefly, what these capacities might be. I am not going to attempt to make any kind of definitive list of these capacities. I don’t think at this stage it can be done, and in fact, I think this attemp to talk about the capacities of design should be a collective activity. I don’t think it should be individual. But I will give you seven sort of nodes of capacities, that I think design has which I think have some purchase.

One node is around everything to do with planning, organising and creating scenarios for things. It’s that node of design capacities, which are to some extent, as I will talk about them at the second level, introduce the word proposition. The way design is a propositional activity in relationship to that. Second point, is the idea of situations that design is emphatically a situated activity and linked to that, it is an intervention into a situation, it is the ability to intervene, it is almost the enthusiasm to intervene, sometimes foolishly. To transform that situation or to transfigurate, using Ezio´s connection to the meaning, so transformation, transfiguration as we intervene into situations.
Third condition, which comes out from that, is that design is critical. It is critical of what is and it is usually is critical in human terms, which means that it wants to transfigure. That is where the word transfigure comes in, and I mean that in terms of the situations, relationship to human bends.
Fourth point: design seems to be an activity intrinsically bound up with translation. Increasingly this term seems important to me, the translation, that design is the translation, very often, of human conditions, the understanding of embody, especially embodied human conditions, but I am using embodiment now in a very wide sense, to include psychic and social conditions into things. That one makes this extraordinary transformation, to bring the conditions of human beingness into the state of things, such that those things actually embody an understanding of who we are, and there is therefore a resonance established between ourselves and things.
Fifth condition or capability has to do with configuration, which is really what design is all about, in my view, configuration is double of course, it means both the physical structure of something and the disposition of something to act, and the orientation of something to act. I am configured as a skeleton and I am disposed to act in certain kind of ways and that is my configuration. It seems to me that design does this. And as a second condition, very important, and that is where I think there is an intrinsic Ethics to design within configuration, there is what I call the negotiation of incommensurability, which I think is one of the most important conditions that design does. That design, through configuration, is capable of taking incommensurable elements and discovering, I insist on that word… discovering a configuration that can resolve them. Not in a mathematical equation, not perfectly, always imperfectly, never finally, but resolving, let say, pragmatically, such that we can use this. Think of a car, the incommensurabilities of a car being safe, and a car going fast, these are absolute incommensurabilities. The safest car wouldn’t go at zero miles an hour, the fastest car would go at 500 miles an hour. Configuration has to resolve that problem, that is what we do. It is one of the best things design has.
Sixth condition: poetics. The poetics of design seems to me to be very interesting on two or three levels. Very briefly, I think there is a transfigurative moment within the poetics of design. There is what Heidegger called the gaging moment whereby we gage the nature of our existence and embody that out in an artifact, being a poem, a buiding or something. Heidegger says a non calculating engaging of our existence then can then be embodied in something. Third condition of the poetics is that, poetics is valuable because it reveals, again I am taking this out of Heidegger, what does poetics of design reveal? What poetics of design might reveal is the nature of artifice. Not the nature of artifice in a technological sense, but it reveals what artifice can be to human beings, or, in fact, because reveals has the connotation of something that is already there, I wouldn’t say actually better, discovers the possibilities of artifice for human beings, because artifice is not known, it cannot ever be completely known, we cannot actually know what the possibilities of artifice are. Why art schools stick to the poetics of design? is to me that moment, which is also an ethical moment.
And finally, around those capacities of design, is the ideas that design is a mode of acting, which is a propositional activity. The best way, I think, of doing it is typographically. I can´t say it but I can sort of do it typographically. !? I think all designs have this condition, where they are both the exclamation mark and the question mark at the same time, is like saying THIS! as a statement and THIS?, question mark. You are making a proposition. It is a propositional activity, which means that, this is a classic design studio, a propositional activity where is possible to have a discourse about the object, even though very often, in our studio, our discourse is limited to say “that works”, “that doesn’t work”…which is a short time for a complex discourse that we often can´t actually articulate. But nonetheless, objects are proposed for discourse and therefore, I think design is an interesting model of a mode of acting, which is at the same time ideally a mode of learning, so there is reflexive activity, endemically.

Now, lets look at these capacities very briefly, I am just summarizing.
Few of these capacities are wholy unique to design but it seems to me that that conjunction of those capacities, those set of seven which are almost existing. The conjunction of the maze seems to me to be, more or less, unique, and some of these capacities are, indeed, essential if we start to think about how we could possibly transform the state of the world.
In my first proposition that I gave you, that one in planning and organising scenarios, that this would also echoed in seven too. The notion of propositions, the notion of being able to make it when you are putting out a mode of acting, which is not attempting to be the objective truth but is a series of propositions, a kind of constacnt series of things going towards, an exploration of what can be.
Secondly, I think the idea of situations, and the transitive ability to engage with situations. If you think about it, much of our acting in the world…we basically, fundamentally, mostly not acting in the world. You do not make significant political decisions about the world, the only mode of acting you have left in the world is shopping. That is it. Period.

Design is, I think, a transitive activity, it is engaging with the realities of the world in terms of material, and I mean in virtual material as well as physical material now, in such a way that it is not simply the domination of the concept over the object, but it is in fact a dialectical relationship, and I think that is extremelly important.
The third point was the critical dimension. The ability, not only to do what the social sciences can, which is to criticize, but to move from criticisim to affirmation, this is the other thing design does, and I think this is one of the great abilities of the way design has to make effective in a resonant object. In design you move from criticism to affirmation, design in fact is nothing without that shift from criticism to afformation.
So, that moment seems to be another moment that we want to kind of save here within that critical activity, it is a special way of being critical, and, I think, in a very important way.

Forth point, is that notion of translation. The translation of the embodied body into things but also, people mentioned Frank Pick, one of the great things about London transport design in the 1930s, in my view, was it addressed the dignity of the traveller as such. The dignity was extremelly important, this incredible sensitive media issue in London transport design between the 1930s modernity and tradition, between addressing, if you like, where the travelling public is and where it may go, this mediation… and I think this is wonderful, absolutely brilliant to address to whom the subject is as, if you like, a citizen (an old fashioned word) but I think it is there and very important. So that notion of translation, which has in its heart… it is what I call the resident heart of design and also one the ethical hearts of design.
Configuration, as the negotiation of the incommensurability. The mediation of suject and object, technology and persons, nature and things, world and thing… all those mediations, is whereby, not only do we mediate these things, but, I also think, at the end, we have the potentiality of creating the basis of what I might call an alternative technology.
I think that our present technology is an inverse of making, that our present technology is a fragment of making, which has been inverted, but I think that we have the chance in the next century to shift that back again.
Poetics, I have spoken about, I think its most improtant idea is the revelatory idea or, better perhaps, is the notion of discovering the conditions of the artificial, the potentiality of the artificial. What it can be for us?
And then seven, finally, this idea of making as acting, acting as a learning, that we actually break with that historic separation between making and human action, and we see this now as continuos, which they have to be. There cannot be an Ethics which is not also an ethics of making, and there cannot be an ethics of making design, which is not also simultaneously an ethics. Cannot be. That is it.

So, these are the capacities that are, I think, the sum of the reason why there is this intuition about metadesign. They are the moments of an affirmative transitive activity that can help us engage with the scale of problems that we are dealing with.
Final point to say, is that these capacities are necessary, but they are not sufficient, Design, I think is emblematicly indicative of future praxis. I said to Richard at lunch time that I have to teach a course in the fall about design futures, with some senior undergraduate students and I was thinking on getting to develop what I call a journal of examplary projects, which will be a journal that would try to say, look here are a set of projects that are indicative for the future.
So design I think can be at its best right now, indicative of that future. Our job in terms of metadesign and in terms of social skills is the articulation of these capacities. And then the very interesting relationship between the professional who is in – shall we say – full educated command of this deployment of capacities, working with other professionals in other fields – social scientists, politicians, etc etc etc. to how we actually deal with the transformation of the world. So that’s complex interaction then between the worlds of design and all the other academic disciplines and all the other kind of social movements which are made.

So, if I would then see that we would be then left with, at the end of this, a kind of triangle of ways of designing, and one element of that triangle would be design as is; the second bit of that triangle, would be metadesign in the way that Elisa Giacardi articulated in the way that Naomi showed us, and the third bit would be Metadesign, as I sort of began to embryonically articulate here, sort of as social practice, and social practice as design, where we actually try to use the emblematic capacities that designers have at this much vaster scale, which is needed to engage. But If you think about it now, the problem of how we deal with an urban popullation of five billion persons in the world, half of the humanity, and how we begin think about urban configurations, not just in a planning sense, but down to the level of housing, how can we deal with that… and indication of how we need to try to move, I think, from the kind of emblematic scale that we are all familiar with using, to the kind of world scale.