Tools Consultation 1

Meeting with Dr. Otto van Nieuwenhuijze (5/02/08) to evaluate tools


Designing the metadesigner - seeking others who believe in the need for connectedness to Earth

designer designs the object but needs a safe space to do this

2. metadesigner creating the conditions which

3. metadesigner conditions the design field (as in creating a garden/context/safe space)

4. the metadesign tribe/vision forms the connection between humans and their context

  • He also compiled the following feedback paper:

Report Overview

  • Design evolves through 4 phases. The fourth is beyond the control of the designer; in its general uses. This is where the design has a life of its own, and needs to be viable in nature.

The three earlier phases are those in which the designer, personally and socially tests the quality of the design. There are the vital phases of conceiving, birthing and rearing the design.

The quality of the design depends on the way it reflects our integration with nature.

It is the integrity of the designer, that determines the integration of the design in life and nature.

The integrity of the designer is experienced in his/her health, on body, mind, soul and spirit.

It is in that context that the quality of any design can be tested.

Key words:

Design, quality, assessment, health, experience


This text explores the simile between design and birthing.

By comparing the process of design to the vital processes in our body we find a basis for the testing of the quality of design. It is intimately connected with the qualities of the designer. The process involves different levels of consciousness and involvement, and different levels of manifestation and creation. Central stands the role of the design object as link between humans and nature. The dynamics involved can be seen most clearly in the principle of digestion, which is also the principle of/for realisation.

Design as birth process

Design can be compared to giving birth: from baby to child to adolescent; and finally an autonomous adult being. The aim is that the design can have a life on its own, in balance with nature. This is the phase of the production of the design. It is a social process.

It is preceded by the phase of the conception of the design. This is an internal process that takes place in the designer. It is as the transition from conception, to blastula, embryo and foetus: the process of gestation. It is a personal experience wit/in the designer.

It is preceded by the processes that lead to conception. Therein the world, as the designer sees it, is compared to a conceivable world, as the designer can imagine, based on prior world experience. This is based on the quality of life experience of the designer as living being.

Ultimately every design is based on our context with our context. The designer exemplifies what is experienced within each living being. The integrity of the design is thereby based on the integration of the designer in nature. The design is an object or code to enhance our integration with nature. The more this integration with nature is part of the experience and being of the designer, the more the design will reflect this.

Conception of Concepts

What we see for the emergence of our living body, we see for the emergence of ideas also, because in our body the processing of information and matter are always interrelated.

Phase 1 Origination of ideas.

Ideas originate in the cells of our body. These are autonomous conscious and sentient units, which together for a unity (O#o, Equation of Health).

From the activity of these cells information is shared between them. Information is processed as electromagnetic signals in a variety of ways, which regulates the cell(body) chemistry, that (in)forms our whole body structure (O#o, The Mind of the Scientist).

All of the body cells are unified in being part of one integral process, The first cell divides, again and again; and every body cell can be traced back top its emergence from this first cell, both in its position and he way it functions.


This process also determines the way our ideas emerge within us. From within the cell(s), changes are expressed and shared with the other cells in the body. Between them they relax their signals in the same way as we perceive changes in our context: a sensor cells relays information (changes) via a neurone, into a neuronal plexus, from which significant changes (newness) is relayed to the brain. From the brain this is fed back to the whole body.


The same is the case for the experience of any cell in our body.

Its sensation of changes are shared with the Organ (group of cells) that it forms part of.

Those cell groups (organs) relay the information between them (information assimilation and digestion). Significant changes (newness) is relayed to the brain.

In the brain this new information is integrated with the information as stored in our body (memory) and with our sensations from our context (sensations), within our body state at that moment.


Together this offers a process of information integration (thinking, awareness and cognition) which is relayed back into the body. Experienced meditators can sense this process within their body-mind-being.


The origination of new ideas is thus based on the convergence of 'waves' of information, that have come together in our body in relationship to our experience of our context. The body knowledge is the result of the interaction of all organs of the body. It is based on the living cells that form our body.

The first phase of origination of ideas can be summarised as:

cell - organ - body - context.

Phase 2 Validation of ideas

Emergent new ideas are evaluated with respect to the context. Four processes play a role.

1) The first process involves the brain quadrants.

First the idea is identified in the forebrain, as a new realisation. It integrates the holographic image of the self-perception of the body, within our context (another holographic image).

This is a point of reference.

The differences between them are analysed in the left brain, in a process known as the 'lines of thought'. These can be compared to lightning bolts in a charge discharge in an ionic (thunder) cloud.

This is a line reference.

This integrates in the right brain, in a process known as domains of interest. This can be compared to the charge potential planes in the ionosphere with respect to the Earth.

This is a plane of reference.

The net result is integrated in the rear brain, where the 'collapse of the vector of state' results in a change in the charge potential of our body. This can be compared to the rivers on Earth feeding the landscape with water.

This is a space of realisation.

This first process involves all brain quadrants equally and at the same time.

It combines the 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D in one integral system.

2) The second process involves the brain levels:

the neocortex, mid-brain, old-brain and spinal cord.

The emergence of new ideas is not new. Our organism has been doing it for a very long time: millions of years. Billions of years if the earlier life form phases are included. From the single cellular organism the higher life forms emerged by synergy (symbiosis: Lynn Margulis), based on the capacities of the cell proteins to aggregate and integrate information (Bruce Lipton). The larger organisms that formed also formed larger cell groups dedicated to processing information.

The function of the cell membrane became extended as the neurone, aggregated as the spinal cord, and integrated as the Old Brain.

The Spinal cord, the old brain, the mid brain and the new brain each represent a different focus on our capacities to integrate with our environment.

The spinal core can be compared to the processes in the cell core.

The Old Brain can be compared to the functioning of the cell membrane.

The Mid Brain can be compared to the linking proteins associated with the cell membrane.

And the new brain can be compared to the cell receptors.

Together they bridge the information processing from within the cell, to and through the cell membrane, to our sensory experience of the world around us.

It needs to be noted that we never ever know of the world around us. All sensory cells are part of our body. Like all other body cells they emerged out of the first cell, the zygote.

The sensations that are relayed to our brain are thus sensations of the surface of our body. Not of our context, but of responses of our body. (In Sanskrit this is called Samsara.)

In our brain this is integrated to a composite image, integrating all sensations from the sensorial cells of our body. This integrated image is inverted, and projected in our brain skull. (In Sanskrit this reflected image is called Maya.)

We thus do not have an actual sensation of a world around us. We have an interpretation of the realisations of the response of our body. Our reality is but a realisation.

This understanding is important: the sensations of our body and the realisations of our thinking are processed in the same system (Maturana and Varela, ####).

The only way we can discern between a sensory perception and an illusion is by the integrity of the image. This is the clue to the testing of the validity of design: in it, the sensation of the new idea (the design) must integrate with our interpretation of the world around us (our world image, Maya, Samsara).

* The only way we can assess the integrity of the idea is in the effect it has on our body.

This calls for the sensing of the integrity of the idea at the various levels of consciousness, 1) of its origination, 2) in the various ways it related to our bodily functions (the way it feels), 3) in the way our body responds to it as it does to any new realisation (how our body re/inter-acts to it), and 4) in the way our body is able to express it.

In terms of the relationships between the new brain, mid brain, old brain and spinal cord, this is a process of digestion: the assimilation of the new insight in relationship to our body memories (emotional response), the functioning of our body (organic response), and the integral being of our body (integral cellular response).

This can also be expressed as the sensing of the effect of the new idea in the head (thinking), heart (feeling), Hara (gut; wanting) and holy bone (sacrum; being).

Again these are the levels of relating to the 'outside world' (brain), the interchanges through the body/organ/cell membranes (circulatory/respiratory system), the transition through that cell membrane (intestinal system and organic function), and finally the 'inside world' (cells).

3) The third process involves the relay to the glandular cell system.


The new ideas that emerge in our brain are the result of a change of balance between our sensory image of the world around us, and the self-sensing of the states of our body. The result is processed in the mid-brain, in a process of comparison and integration. This again is a dynamic process of charge discharge, which leads to changes in the pineal gland.

Hypothalamic Axis

This affects the hypophysis, which responds in a combination of animal (neuronal) or vegetative (hormonal) system activation. The animal and vegetative system are dual: they complement each other, and together offers the body to adapt (within/to/of) the context.

Glandular System

The vegetative changes in the system are relayed to the glandular system, which affects the dynamic relationship between the organs; i.e. this affects the way the experience is 'digested'. (This is also the mechanism for many psycho-somatic diseases.)

Body Cells

As a result of the working or the glandular-organ system, the internal climate of the body is affected. This creates the climate that the body cells live in. Together this determines the vitality and functioning of the cells of our body.

Fairy Tale wisdom

This principle is well known and described by many cultures in the form of fairy tales. The King is the Pineal Gland, the Court is the Hypothalamic axis, the Government is the glandular organ system, and the Population is the integral unit of cells of the body.

Whatever you hold to be true is what the king acts on, the court decides on, the government puts in action, which determines the population of cells in the body.

It is therefore of great importance to understand how this functions; this is why these principles are traditionally told to the young children as bed time stories. It is important to realise that what you think affects the way you feel, what you desire, and thus what you put in action through your body.

It is this process that has great importance in the validation of new ideas:

we first digest the experience of the new idea in our body. As in scientist sensing the "beauty of Mathematics", this is a psycho-somatic sensation of the body. This capacity can be used only by those who are sensitive to the functioning of the body, as well as free of (latent) diseases that affect the integral functioning of the body.

(Diseases can stagnate local processes in the body, due to which they no longer form part of the integral system. As a result, the aspect of reality realisation that is represented by this specific body process cannot be used in evaluating the integrity of the experience (i.c. the new design). Mens Sano in Corpore Sano refers to this condition: it is necessary to be in full contact with one's own body, to fully 'digest' the 'meaning' of a new design/idea. This also explains why experienced meditators are often 'more lucky': their realisations are more in tune with their experience of the context, because of the integral functioning of their body. Likewise this makes clear why it is important to 'resolved unfinished business in the body' (Kübler Ross, Goldstein, ####): fixations to old trauma interferes with the integral processing of information in the body.)

4) The fourth process is that by which the body acts out this information.

The body can be compared to a puppet; ready to respond by itself to impulses that help it to better integrate into its context. (Design objects are props to aid this.) The muscles and organs respond to the integrated information feedback that comes back from the brain. The impulses for these changes come from the comparison of a mental image with the body image. (It is this mechanism that is used for design quality evaluation.)

The interaction between the mental image and the body image (see (3), above) gives rise to a charge release (see (1), above) which is relayed back into our animal body (animus) and vegetative bodies (see (2) above).

The changes in realisation in the mid brain, balanced out with respect to our memories and the internal body operation at that very moment (cerebellum) is relayed as a code of signals by which activation is routed throughout the body.

This shifts the balance between complementary 'agonist-antagonist' dynamic equilibrium systems in our body. First the balance is processed in the cerebellum, then the sympathic-parasympathic balance is shifted, which indices a momentary functional bias of the animal (fight/flight) or vegetative (fear/faint) system.

The result is specific activation: in our muscular system the information is routed into arms and/or legs, for running or sitting/standing. As a result our body is moved in its context (making use of pre-established functional reflexes) or set to digest the changes within our body. Both of these processes have direct relationship with the emergence and validation if new ideas.

Phase 3 Expression of ideas.

The production of new ideas follows the same pattern as that of digestion.

On the one hand we have the talking in of new ideas, followed by their assimilation and integration into our body, with elimination of what is no longer needed.

On the other hand we have or production of faeces, which is like an ongoing process of birth of new information for our context.

In the same way as we are part of the food chain, likewise the cells of our body are all part of an internal food chain within us. Together they process matter and information, and the produce are shared with the world around us. Our urine, faeces and menstrual blood are valuable nutrients for nature around us. The same is the case for well digested ideas.

However, since ideas are often not realised to be part of the same ongoing process, they are not always fully digested. Education often demands that students regurgitated rather than digest new information. Some people suffer from verbal diarrhoea. Many people suffer from various forms of verbal obstipation.

In comparing the output of ideas of people to the stools of our body, it can be seen that schooling and informational 'fast food' leads to many forms of informational indigestion.

By its location and function we can compare the mouth to the anal orifice of the brain. By interpreting this image in a near literal manner it is easy to understand the need for informational hygiene. This does not only apply to the information we take in (e.g. the internet as world wide sewer, in which as in the rivers of the past people put their excrement, from which other people will be drinking). It also applies to the information that we put out.

The body that is healthy produces healthy stools that will feed the environment around it. It is part of the feedback system in which each organism contributes part of the digestion and enhancement of the environment we live in. (Compare it to the fertilising activities of the worms in the soil.) The unfit body produces foul stinking stools, or stools that look healthy but filled with parasites or pathogenic microbes that contaminate the environment it touches.

By using this very graphical image we can see that many products of design, although they may look good, function as pathogens for our context. On a large scale we can se how the world severely suffers from human consumption. Many of the diseases that we can identify in our body, we can recognise on our planet. Most are man made. Most are the result of technology. Most are inflicted by commerce. And most are made by designer.

In other words: the disease state of the world is a design product. Many of the designers who are the active agent of this disease state are unaware of their involvement. They do not realise that, and how, the ideas they have, and translate into product, scavenge the planetary resources, pollute the planet, and do not contribute to the wellbeing of other species. Often it is not even of great benefit to the human species; only for a transient flow of money to a small group of producers. We can often summarise the cause of the disease as a dependence on money. The cure of the disease involves more than a solution for the collective addiction to money.

It requires a restoration of the integration of humans within their context; this will automatically lead to the restoration of the integrity of the products of the designers.

The integration between the human and the context is exemplified by (the health of) our body. The integration between our body and our context is exemplified by the process of giving birth.

Every aspect from conception, pregnancy, birth and child rearing can be found in the way design is 'created'.


Conception is the moment when the designer connects a (digested) experience from the past into an interpretation of the present. Therein, a current existing situation is compared to a possible (generalised, digested) experience of the past. This takes lace as an overlay of a hologram of the present situation, with a hologram of a possible alternative situation. Designers have trained themselves to look at 'the world' like this in an ongoing manner: comparing what is to what could be. The result is that they come to a realisation, that the current situation van be enhanced by connecting it to another state of being or context. This is the moment of conception.

Cell fusion

From that moment on the two images are fused, and confused: they are rotated and permutated in a fundamental dynamic which is also seen in the phase after conception. The cells divide again and again, but do not become larger. The two ideas are integrated with/in each other, leading to a more closely knit understanding. As a result the insight (often but a feeling) becomes more dense and intense, to form a fundamental realisation: the understanding. Thus convergence to understanding, the insight, can be sensed as a bodily sensation. (In science it is known as the beauty of mathematics.)


From that moment on it has a life of its own - quite literally - and as in the first phases of embryology it will go through a whole series of related unfoldings. (Embryologist René Tohm described the mathematics of this in his work on catastrophe theory.)

Each of these changes shows possible solutions.

In this way the potential, shows possibilities, which can then lead to probabilities, and finally products.


The phase of the possibilities lasts until it is connected to a context. Then the possibilities are condensed into probabilities. In the same way as a tree will shape itself in the setting where it grows in, likewise any design concept will take shape to suit the context of its usage. This phase of shaping, in the body, is known as the stage of the foetus. This phase continues until the growth is fulfilled.

In its shape it will have developed the maximum density of contacts (internally and externally, qualitatively and quantitatively). That then leads to the moment of birth: when the product is made available to others.

Designer as baby bearer

In this embryonic, intra uterine, phase, the design take place only within the being of the designer. The mental experience of the emerging design goes through all the phases as seen in child birth.

The process takes place in the body; and the body responds with the same mechanisms for assimilation and digestion as is used for all its other functions. This means that the process can be sensed, albeit that this required that the designer is highly aware of what happens in the mind/body. It calls for the equivalent of the inner calmness of a mother in gestation.

A good state of health and skill at meditation help to attain awareness of this otherwise autonomous and unconscious process. Another very helpful factor is a suitable environment in which to do this process of creation. (In the past the temples served this function.) By having a suitable supportive context, the body/mind is more free to relax, and thus more fully available for this internal creative process. (In Chinese Culture this relates to "Ku Qi", the quality of the restaurant in which you are eating, for feeling safe and sheltered, and thus wholly immersed in the experience of eating.)

Once the idea is conceived it passes through the levels of consciousness, 'from the cells through the organs to the body, to be experienced in the 'brain'.

After that it is tested: from the brain it is felt (in the heart), expressed (in the gut) and lived (in the scrum).

* This is normally done first internally, and fully experienced in the body.

This produces closure of the cycle: the idea that emerged from/in the body is fed back to the body. Its imaginary existence is thus then first experienced within your own body.

(This is how Nikola Tesla tested the instruments that he created. They were first created and operated, tested and evaluated in his imagination. One refined and validated they were produced outside of his body.)

The cycle of internal testing is crucial for the evaluation of design products. This is where our current system of schooling causes a problem. Students learn to regurgitate information rather than digest it. They are asked to give back the information in the form they got it, instead of giving back how they integrated and transformed it. The result is that students, including student designers, have been incapacitated to test within them what they have created.

Instead of seeing a new idea emerge (cells, organs, body, realisation) and then test it (thought, feeling, intent, being), they express it without testing.

The result is that the world becomes the 'test lab'. Whatever is designed is not evaluated within the body (which is representative for the world around us), but instead in the world around us. As a result, it is the world around us that is damages by ill-designed products. Normally the new design would be realised, held as if real, in an internal imagination (compare this to meditation of a hypnotic trance state).

The new 'reality' (realisation) that has been 'designed' is then 'held in the head', as if real, and experienced in fullness. (Compare this to Tolkien thinking up Elfish.)

Then follows the phase in which the reality is 'turned on'; lived internally as a new realisation: a dream brought to life, in your mind. (Compare this to Tolkien thinking up Hobbits, communicating in Elfish.)

This then lead to a realisation that can be experienced. The designer lives the design (in the body-mind) as if real, in all the possible uses. (Compare Tolkien describing the live experiences of the Hobbits in Elfish.)

This leads to a full, inner, realisation of the way the design object is used and abused, the way it alters our context with our context, and as a result the way we live life in our context. (Cf. the books of Tolkien and the insight they lead to: any person changes the reality we live in.)

If this imaginary test run is effective, the designer will feel happy and healthy.

If the design is ill designed, the designer will feel ill. The body of the designer might even become ill.

Bad design is as a result self-eliminative.

Note that this is a full internal experience, in the body.

The process involves thinking, feeling, desires and being.

All have their own proper time base. Where thinking goes fast, in the imagination, feeling already involves the changing of levels of hormones. Desires already affect the relationship between organs. The being affects the cells of the whole body.

The phrase 'sleep on it' summarised this process: in our sleep cycle (basically four cycles of 1.5 hours) we experience the design (as in dreaming) as outside, in the body, as our organ response, and in the experience of our cells. (This involves, respectively, the beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain waves). It is a full cycle of digestion of information.

It is this cycle of information digestion which is needed by the designer to evaluate the quality of the design in the own body.

This involved different levels of consciousness (at different layers of functioning of the body), different modes of involvement (at different degrees of identification/realisation of the product), and different types of sensations (at different degrees of incompatibility with/in our body). Evidently this implies that the body is expected to be healthy (i.e. representative for the functioning of our context).

Body. Mind, soul & spirit.

The testing of the new design is thereby an internal process in body, mind, soul and spirit (i.e. at the level of body experience, in relationship to all our experiences ever, in rapport to our integral experience with/in/of our context, and the integral nature of our context, respectively.

As mentioned: we do not experience our context (we only experience our sensation of our body response to/with/in our context (Samsara)), which means that whatever we hold to be real is only a realisation.

As mentioned: the realisation process is described in the fairy tales: what you hold to be real is what the Kind, Court, Government acts on; and that is lived by the (cell) population. In this way we all design our reality.

Designers take this on as a job, and thereby live their reality also on the behalf of others.

The extent to which their realisations are also valid for others depends on the degree to which they can identify with those others.

The designers thereby becomes representative for 1) themselves, 2) the people to which they relate, 3) the group networks they all form part of, and 4) humanity as a whole (and all life forms).

The experience of the Self, relationships, groups and humanity are all processed at a different level of awareness.

Again, this is sensed as the difference between thinking, feeling, desire and being.

This is easer to describe not with respect to us, but to our body cells.

Body cells are fully alive, aware, and thereby are conscious of they experience.

Living cells interact and communicate with other cells; they are thereby un relationship with other cells. They own experience is part of the experience they share with these other cells: this is a subconscious awareness (of e.g. cells functioning as part of an organ).

Groups of cells (e.g. organs) function together as our living body. They are immersed in the integral ongoing process, which operated at more levels than the separate cells function. The body process, for the cell, is an unconscious process.

Finally there is an experience in the cells of what happens beyond the cells, outside of the body. This is the out-of-consciousness levels of the cells of the body.

Inversely this is also how we experience our relationship with and between other people.

We are conscious of the experience in and of our own body.

We are subconscious participant when in relationship to another.

We are unconscious yet involved in the functioning of groups of people.

And we are out-of consciousness of what happens at the Humanity level.

Consensus conduct

We all experience these levels always. Not all are aware of this.

For example: in groups of designers (as in any culture) there are phrases such as 'one aught to' or 'it is necessary to"...

These are directives for conduct that emerged out of interactions with others, and were assimilated and integrated into the mental body.

In this manner the experience in interaction with others operate at the subconscious level; the interactions with groups of people drive us at our unconscious level, and the functioning of humanity (as part of nature) at out-of-consciousness levels.

Good design needs to operate at each of these levels; a designer is a craftsman who makes an instrument for optimising the way humans relate to their context: individually, in relationship, in groups and s humanity.

Again, there are levels which the designer first needs to internally imagine, before this is tested out in real life.

The capacity to test this depends on the experience of the designer of him/herself, in the relationships (s)he had, on his/her culture, as part of the human species.

Representative behaviour

The more the designer has experienced this, and can identify with this experience (having digested the experiences), the more the designer becomes representative for and at each of these levels. The designer thereby becomes a pope: representative for the universe, the human species, all people in his her culture, and him/herself; as a transcendental being.

The quality of the design product therein depends on the transcendental capacity of the designer: to live the abstraction of the experience of all other people. This also determines the success of the designer: the degree to which the designer can transcend the self, and identify with other people, that is the extent to which other people can recognise themselves in the experience of the designer, and thus identify with the designed products.


The aspects addressed above are rarely addressed in education; nor are they part of the training of designers. This means that designers who are highly effective have realised for themselves what transcendental qualities are determinant for designing. Designers create new designs, object, and concepts, by which humans can interface better with/in their context. Designers are therewith creators of code and conduct by which humans communicate more intensively with their context. The better the designer understands the natural context, the better the design will enhance our natural context.

Again, it is necessary that the designer can live this, first in the imagination, then in the creation. As we currently see, many design objects have not been thus tested. They are made for money, not for healing the planet. Currently designers often design products for profit with the following sequence of priorities: 1) profit, 2) product, 3) people, 4) planet). However, the function of design is to enhance our contact with our planet (inverting the priorities: 1) planet, 2) people, 30 product, 4) planet). Good design is part of the healing art. Bad design can be deadly.

Designer as response-able parent of/for Design

Quality design is based on qualities of the designers.

No design comes to exist by itself; it is always based on human involvement.

By comparing Design to a baby, the same social rules and personal involvement can be understood to apply top both. The responsibility in conception, the care in bearing and birth, plus the care in rearing and growth determine the final outcome.

Defining quality design

Success of design is often evaluated by 'good looks', as is design is a woman.

Effectiveness of design is often gauged by sales quota; as is design is a man.

The wide spread practical use on the long run is held to be a measure for its success for humans.

But the effect on the planet and other life forms is not (yet) widely considered as a gauge for the quality of design on first basis.

Design creates links for contact between human and context.

Both the effect on context and human need to be considered.

The effect on the environment can be seen in material use, resource depletion, and planetary pollution. The designers who create the designs are responsible for the effects of their creations.

At present there is no direct means to assess the consequences of designers on our context. In a way the world of design suffers from the same split-mind problem as the holocaust concentration camps: the people who designed them were not the people who made them or used them. This makes it seemingly possible to ignore the responsibility of personal involvement. The one who has the idea (the designer) is not the executioner (the producer). As the Nuremberg trial decided: both are guilty.

Often designers have the mind set that they are paid for their design; and that thus makes the buyers responsible for what they do with the product. This was the same philosophy of some of the designers of the atomic bomb. The problem is: once the design is created it leads a life of its own. Planetary pollution is a chain reaction in which designers, producers, consumers and bankers are all co-creators of the outcome. Each of these needs to change their involvement, to change the outcome. For the designers this is most explicit: when they change the design to make it, e.g., fully eco-friendly, then all other participants will immediately also co-create in supporting a healthy product. The designers is the most able agent for changing the outcome.

Educating quality designers

If the designers have a choice in the design of the products, then it makes sense to educate the designers to be aware of their choices. Design schools are known for their lead role in aesthetics; they are not known for their lead role in ethics. By including the effect of their products as compulsory part of what they are learning, they will be immediately involved in considering eco friendly products. It can be foreseen that, in the future, designers will be billed for the pollution they have created; in the same way as large corporations are already being billed for cleaning up the mess they create on the planet. Financial sanctions will turn their profits into losses; reflecting the losses that their products mean for the planet.

All it takes is a schooling in which designers are helped to be aware of the real effect their life has on the planet. Many forms of schooling teach responsibility in life as if it is academic. History books speak of decisions of political leaders as if they shape the planet. They do not mention the role of large corporations, and individual decisions. Yet, every person in their lifetime has effect on others, on and the planet. The appreciation of this responsibility can be learned, by exercising response-ability for every action. This positions the designer in a context: society, humanity, all life forms and the planet. It means that student of design schools (and in fact every student) learns that what they do matters.

Designing Quality Products

Once a design student is aware that what they do matters, they make different choices. If in role play they experience at school that they may be (virtually) fined for the damage done by their creations, they will create products that do not damage. The principles described above offer a means for the design students to gauge the effects of their products. The healthy body is integral reflection of four context. It is our 'personal test ground' for our realisation. In being part of our context, our body is reflective for our context. Whatever we imaging can (by the principles mentioned above) be tested in our own body. It is a simple matter for any student to learn how to gauge the quality of their design in their own body.

The result is that designers create products with feeling. Their personal feeling is their test bench for creating better products. It requires that they come to understand the workings of their mind, and body. The text above gives the explanation how both function. It is a matter of training to learn to use it. Most of all, the design of quality design is a reflection of a mind set. Whatever is taken into account as parameter in designing, will be part of the outcome of the designed product. When design students learn to account for the user and effect on the planet; these will be qualities that are found in the product. As mentioned above, much is a matter of prioritisation: of 1) planet, 2) people, 3) product and 4) profit; instead of the inverse order.


Design which is subservient to making money, is mercenary. It is potentially lethal, because it is disconnected from a context, and disowned in the responsibility of the creator. The first step to a quality of design that is beneficial for the planet (as well as in all other aspects of its usage) is to ensure that these qualities are called for. This calls for a transcendence of the role and function of design. It no longer focuses on the product: it also attributes responsibilities to the designer. Also it calls for responsibility for the designer educators. And it calls for a responsibility for the society of designers. If these are the people who at present are most responsible for polluting the planet, then the planet will soon be clean when they are held responsible for their creations.

This calls for meta-design: the regarding of design in a larger context. Not just as an art for enhancing the looks and sales of a product, but as a responsibility in creation. This sense of responsibility is quickly achieved when the designer is not regarded as the creator of a product, but as in giving birth to a living being. For all practical purposes a design, once created, has a life seemingly of its own. The designer can be held responsible for the life led by their creations. As in the book "The Monster of Doctor Frankenstein", the havoc wrought by the creation would not exist without the creator. Meta-design places design in a larger perspective: as a craft with consequences for the whole planet.


Design is intentional creation. This comes with all consequences that come with the creation. This gives responsibilities for the creator. As in a parent giving birth, it is the rearing of the product that determines it behaviour. Meta-design can have a profound role by putting design in this larger perspective: to understand that the creator is responsible for the effects of the creation. The foregoing text has shown that this can be compared to the process of birthing. It also made explicit how design starts with the emergence of new ideas (conception) and requires an internal testing for the viability of the realisation (gestation). It explained that the body of the designer is the first test ground. The neurochemical pathways, brain system and organic functions have been described by which the designer can internally experience the consequences of the creation, prior to its creation. Tesla and others are exemplary for the use of this potential. This can be learned in the training of designer. The essence is that our body – as representative part of our context – will be our bet gauge to assess the qualities of design prior to its physical creation. The power of our use of imagination is so marked, and well known, that all children of all cultures learn this, in the form of fairy tales that describe how our imagination affects our body. This bio-mechanism can be used to evaluate the quality of the design, for the designer. It has an implicit conclusion: the quality of the product reflects the quality of the mind set and life of the designer.

possible tools to evaluate:

67. Cog's Ladder to Monitor the Emergence of Team-Consciousness

11. Orders - Hellinger's alignment of different hierarchies

68. Team Values

69. Balancing Your Self-Assertiveness to Modesty Ratio

77. Mapping Miracles?

70. Keystone Synergies tool

27. Holarchy attractors?

16. Cognitive roles versus (Tool 2) Cognitive Styles versus the Hermann Institute tool

40. Grey boxAssessing change through a set of initial criteria and conditions.

29. Identification of structural coupling

66. Meeting in the round

12. Force field Analysis

7. Curiosity Tool

58. Encouraging Interdependence within Metadesign teams? BD

69. Balancing Your Self-Assertiveness to Modesty Ratio

3. Participant becomes an Observer

10. Opening Oneself to the Nameless JW

61. Identifying and mapping Positional value within Metadesign teams? BD JW

16. Our cognitive roles. Making sure that each of those roles function self-reflexively, and as a whole, inward and outward roles.

19. Every proposition must have a double entry value – e.g. digit and picture, bonded left and right brain JB MT

20. The tetrahedral set of bonded values (Herman Institute) JW

21. Hypertext format of tetrahedral of bonded values JW KF

23. Practical problem based approach – e.g. conference context – jigsaw papers leave something out, give something to other paper (metagging) BD

25. Heterogeneity – welcome reassurance, build something in smaller group open to bigger group. Going round twice.

5. Complexity Profiling Tool by Ken Fairclough

27. The quest for holarchy – attractors for holarchy – pride in outcomes? BD

30. Observation of shared moments of elation. Individual and shared – two tools. HJ JL

31. Revision of SWOT. Predicament’s potential, outcome based opportunities, unnoticed unnameable, transformative triggers. JW

32. Aptitudes are relatives not absolutes – playing x to your y and the task at hand. A grammar of roles. Languaging roles. Identities, sets of relationship. JL

34. Relative values when mapped onto a needs and haves. “The brain looks at the past values of something.” Ethics change aesthetics. Economic resources tool. Industrial ecology.

36. Sympoeisis for co-authoring. JW OVN

38. Ring of fire. HJ JL MT

33. Simultaneous Parallel Innovation. JW

41. Mapping the whole meeting using mindmapping tool. AC

42. Acoustic screens that allow simultaneous meetings in a space. JW JBrad

43. Is there an order to the Herman meeting models? (Divergent and convergent)

44. Using scribes

45. Scribe templates – three experiments HJ BD MT AL

46. Synergy through making, playing

48. Posters that we made for data sharing, pre and post poster

49. Wearing the dream, wearing the poster (name tags) MT AL

50. Division of participants into groups

51. Sandbagging

63. Encouraging Homeostasis within Metadesign teams? BD

67. Using Cog's Ladder to Monitor the Emergence of Team-Consciousness. Batel

68. Team Values

53. Technologies: Video and I-Pod, wiki, digital maps, scribe templates

56. Awkward continuum - Adroit to Maladroit, social, physical and psychical space manipulation for synergy HJ

17. Building a wiki based website that audits team consciousness. JW JBrad

18. PDA system that gives feedback to team consciousness. JW JBrad

39. Win win win win. Focus on experience instead problem. JW

60. Aspiring to overall Autopoiesis in Metadesign teams? BD JW

64. Identifying Emergence within Metadesign teams? BD

65. Wisdom of crowds. AL MT JW

71. Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom tool