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Evaluating Synergy Tools for Meta-Designersau_g

The third ds21 Conference on Synergy within Metadesign

~~#0099CC:This DesignSynergy21 event took place on November 17th and 18th 2005 at the ICA  (external link) in London.
90 extraordinary members + guests proposed and evaluated Tools for Design Synergy.
~~#0099CC; background:">Map of Synergy being created at the ICA, London, November 2005

Members and Guests take part in an ice-breaking dance exercise

Fig. 1 - Mapping synergies within/for 'meta-design'

Timetables for the 17th and 18th November 2005

See main ds21 members to get an idea of the project's breadth

Opening remarks

John Wood: "Welcome to the third official meeting of the ‘Design Synergy for the 21st century’ research project in 2005. This is an AHRC/EPSRC funded project that has run through 2005 with 14 members in 6 countries. Its title is “An Open Source Design Cluster that uses Synergy Tools to Guide the Effective Development of a 'Meta-Design' Methodology”. We needed to explore this issue because the inadequacy of specialist (Eco)design skills and mindset has brought a need for a new discourse and practice of meta-design.

I am very proud to have been a part of this group of 14, as it represents a wonderfully unique collection of fascinating thinkers and busy individuals. Some of us, such as Phil (external link), Karen (external link), Bill (external link) and Caroline are working within terms we might describe with the word 'sustainability'. These are all extremely important, complementary ventures. However, some of us have been looking for an alternative to the confusing discourse of 'nature' and 'sustainability'. This led us to consider the idea of metadesign and to the notion of synergy as its performance indicator. Finding tools for this process was not a simple process. We needed to consider synergy on many simultaneous levels. How can we summarise (i.e. grasp) what is extremely complex without losing its essential features?

We first saw the task as two complementary agendas:
1) Some synergies of practical elements (more to be done)
2) Some synergies of knowledge exchange (progress, but at the expense of 1)

We were aware of the danger of making a simple polarization (e.g. a body-mind dualism) that would cause a potential loss of synergy. We therefore tried to balance them by incorporating them within 4 thematic categories that we have used to create the four groups.

GROUP A New Knowing (from intuition, embodiment, & sharing)
GROUP B Envisioning (thinking / criticizing / mapping)
GROUP C Communicating (balancing internal & external conditions)
GROUP D Pushing/Doing (resourcing, creating, and producing)

We hope this will prepare us for a resumption of work at the practical level. Implicitly, we have also sought to consider synergies across these first two levels of synergy. This has offered the greatest challenge, (although many have since offered extremely positive feedback after the ICA event).

These processes entail a new mode of integrative thinking and acting. This why we are here. I am delighted to introduce you to our facilitator for the next 2 days – Ulrike Sturm has come all the way from Berlin to be with us today.


Ulrike Sturm: The (western) language of ‘subject-object’ relations has left us with a politics and lifestyle that is ecologically obsolete. This conference will evaluate some 4D tools that offer an alternative. One aspect of this process is the interplay between 4 groups that represent specific roles. Each conference delegate will be asked to explore synergy via an exercise that looks at what issues and skills might be required for developing a cross-disciplinary metadesign methodology. In order to give a realistic focal context for this we will be looking again at the Convoys Wharf area of South East London. (The Richard Roger Partnership (external link) has already been selected to work develop part of this site (external link))

Day 1: contributions, considerations
Day 2: talks & results preparations for outsiders.

Self-presentations by each delegate on day 1

  • O#o van Nieuwenhuijze: mission: ‘Planting Paradise’ (see website), 4D Dynamic Logic
  • Garth Rennie (University, Ontario, Canada): education, community, DJ, sound systems
  • Valery: preparing companies for complex change - co-creation
  • Hannah Jones (Goldsmiths College, University of London): identifying and re-evaluating awkward spaces
  • Lucy Sollett (Royal Society of Arts): philosopher, interest in ecology
  • Martin Woolley (Director of Research, Central St. Martins): design theorist
  • Jan-Marc Petroshka (MacDonald Egan, London): architect, planning new communities
  • David Heldt (designer, Amsterdam): urban development
  • Karen Blincoe (Director of ICIS, Copenhagen, Denmark): re-educating architects into sustainability, the idea of ‘multi-design’
  • Naomi Gornick (Professor of Design Management, : Meta-design education
  • Anette Lundebye: design consultant artist
  • Richard Douthwaite: eco re-design in community
  • Vadim Kvitash: monitoring tools for dynamic system balance
  • Mike Anusas: technical aspects of eco-design
  • Elisa Giaccardi: human-computer art meta-design - methodology tools
  • Phil Jones: building physics & design tools
  • Ulrike Sturm: urban design

Our Case study:

Jan-Marc Petroshka – prepared materials concerning the region surrounding Convoy’s Wharf (Deptford)

Otto van Nieuwenhuijze – had been in discussion with
1) officials at Culemborg (Netherlands) regarding a new community development
2) Willits (California) – an intentional autonomous community

~~#0099CC:GROUP B - Envisioning (thinking / criticizing / mapping)

considered the need for "sustainable transience"~~
Try to discern what is preserved/changed, transient/permanent sustainable/embedded
unseen features
micro - meso - macro - meta communication
community consciousness
contagious values
creating a cultural ‘climate’
Complement words with images; concepts with concreteness
Connecting loops: how can contact be established


GROUP C - Communicating (balancing internal & external conditions)


GROUP D - Pushing/Doing (resourcing, creating, and producing)


Tools for Synergy

Vadim’s relonics system derives from his work in psychiatry and immunology. His systemic conclusions can be applied in other domains, including design for complexity.