Designboost goes Reykjavik

March 16, 2010

David Carlson and Peer Eriksson, Designboost founders, are invited to do a presentation at Design March in Reykjavik, Island on March 20. The theme of the presentation is Sharing Design Knowledge. It will be a journey through the first three years of Designboost and why knowledge sharing is crucial for designers, companies and organizations.


Snapshots from DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseet

February 15, 2010

We have put up a lot of images from all different parts of DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseet which took place last week in Stockholm. BoostChat (workshops), BoostTalk (lectures and panels), BoostShow (exhibition), coffee breakes, lunches and after hour events like cocktails and our big party.

Go to the box named DesignBoost Arkitekturmuseet just below our periodic system. Here are a few posted just as temptation.

BoostTalk streamed online!

February 11, 2010

The BoostTalk on Friday 12 February during DesignBoost Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm was sold out in thirty minutes.

We are now happy to announce that we will stream all lectures, panels and seminar online on Friday 12th between 9.45am and 5.15pm. You can listen to personalities like Karim Rashid, Ross Lovegrove, Ilse Crawford, Stephen Burks, Ineke Hans, Richard Hutten, Katrin Olina, Satyendra Pakale, Monica Förster, Henrik Otto, Bjarke Ingels, James Irvine, Gert Wingårdh, Ilkka Suppanen, Thomas Sandell and Jens Fager.

Simply go to and you will be re-directed to the DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseet BoostChat “Design for Life”.

If you would like to comment and discuss the BoostChat via Twitter use #designboost.

Program for BoostTalk February 12th

January 27, 2010

Programme for BoostTalk during DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseet Friday February 12


Inaugural speech by David Carlson and Peer Eriksson from Designboost.


Jens Fager
Richard Hutten
Satyendra Pakhale

2 minute leg stretch

Ilse Crawford
Ross Lovegrove


13.00 OFFICIAL OPENING OF BOOSTSHOW (exhibition) ”Design for Life”. Inaugural speech speech by museum director Lena Rahoult.


Stephen Burks
Bjarke Ingels
Karim Rashid

2 minute leg stretch

14.40 SEMINAR ”Space for Life” with Ineke Hans, Karim Rashid, James Irvine, Henrik Otto and Ross Lovegrove. Moderators: David Carlson and Peer Eriksson.


16.00 PANEL DISCUSSION ”Design for Life” with Katrin Olina, Ilkka Suppanen, Gert Wingårdh, Monica Förster and Thomas Sandell. Moderators: David Carlson and Peer Eriksson.

16.50 WIND-UP: David Carlson and Peer Eriksson

17.00 THE END

Ross Lovegrove plus Henrik Otto and Jens Fager

January 22, 2010
We are happy to announce that Ross Lovegrove will attend and talk at DesignBoost February 12 at Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm. Also Henrik Otto, design manager at Electrolux and Jens Fager, the new hope for Swedish Design, will come and share their visions about how we create design for a better life.
-Ross Lovegrove in one of the leading Design icons and we are of course very happy that he has chosen to participate at DesignBoost. On  the other hand Jens Fager is just in the beginning of his career. I am sure that we will here a lot about him in the future, says David Carlson, from Designboost.
-The theme for DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseet is “Design for Life”. It’s important to look at sustainable design with a holistic view. At DesignBoost we will discuss how companies and organizations can use design as a competitive advantage. It will be interesting to listen to Henrik Otto, how he is working with design thinking as chief designer at Electrolux, says Peer Eriksson, from Designboost.

New speakers for Arkitekturmuseet revealed

January 19, 2010

As reported earlier DesignBoost will take place at Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm February 11-12. The overall theme is “Design for Life”. As earlier years Designboost has invited speakers from all over the world which represent the true frontline within design.

Today Designboost reveals four new speakers for the BoostTalk (lectures) on February 12th.

Karim Rashid – one of the most prolific designers of his generation. Over 3000 designs in production, over 300 awards and working in over 35 countries

Ilse Crawford – a creative director and designer who crosses the worlds of brand creation, interiors and design.

Satyendra Pakhale – A cultural nomad born in India and now working from Amsterdam.

Monica Förster – One of the leading young designers from Sweden.

Last week Designboost revealed the name of the first nine speakers: Stephen Burks, Ineke Hans, Katrin Olina, Ilkka Suppanen, James Irvine, Richard Hutten, Bjarke Ingels, Gert Wingårdh and Thomas Sandell.

The entrance to the lectures on February 12 is free but you have to register no later than February 8 to

DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm

January 13, 2010


The theme of this autumn’s DesignBoost in Malmö was Design for Life. Now the question is once again being posed, how to make design economical, ecological and fair when DesignBoost collaborates with Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm.

At this DesignBoost people of worldwide reputation such as Stephen Burkes, Ineke Hans, Katrin Olina, Ilkka Suppanen, James Irvine, Richard Hutten, Bjarke Ingels, Gert Wingårdh and Thomas Sandell will participate. Additional participants will be announced.

Design for Life is about how we shall shape our way of life. How we plan, produce, deliver and consume everything from cities, transportation and infrastructure as well as food, entertainment, products and brands. Over the years design unfortunately has developed more and more into an exceedingly contributing source of pollution and over consumption. Therefore some of the biggest names in the world of design will once again meet, to show how design and architecture may be used to create better conditions for people as well as for the environment.


One of the speakers is Stephen Burks, known among other things for his border breaking collaborations with artisans in South Africa and Peru.

We need to redefine design and focus on people’s needs, rather than just surface. When design is put in a humanistic perspective one understands the tremendous ability it has to make change happen, socially as well as economically and ecologically. With knowledge of design, we can solve and improve everyday life of people both in Sweden and globally, says Peer Eriksson.

DesignBoost at Arkitekturmuseeum in Stockholm will take place on the 11-12th of February with around seventy especially invited participants. During two days BoostChats (workshops) and BoostTalks (lectures) on the theme Design for Life will be held. BoostChat on the 11th is exclusively open to those especially invited guests while the talks on the 12th will be open to the public (the entrance to the talks on February 12 is free but you have to register no later than February 8 to


As a part of this a BoostShow (exhibition) with examples of holistic sustainable design will be open until the 9th of March.

DesignBoost invites the most pioneering thinkers. Stephen Burks is established as one of the worlds greatest designers but other brilliant talents will also attend, such as Bjarke Ingels, architect and maker of Denmark’s pavilion on the world exhibition in Shanghai later this year, David Carlson tells us. He, along with Peer Eriksson is the initiative behind DesignBoost.

Design for Life magazine online

November 3, 2009


You can now read the ‘Design for Life’ magazine online. Follow this link and click on the image to get a fullscreen version.

Conclusions from the BoostChat

October 23, 2009

Please find below all conclusions from the BoostChat at DesignBoost 2009 – Design for Life. All in all 40 different BoostChat with unique themes.

BoostChat Wednesday October 14th

SESSION ONE 9.00 – 12.00


Designing for positive change

In the process of designing for life, with regard to one’s own life: is it better to live one’s life as one choses and then design around it to bring about positive change; or to have as one’s top priority designing for positive change, and then living one’s life around that purpose? The easy answer is to say one does them equally, but there are no easy answers in life (or there wouldn’t be a need for designers of it). Such balance is difficult if not impossible to attain. Designing oneself out of this dilemma is challenging especially as one’s personal and external circumstances alter.

How have the factors in this equation waxed and waned in your life and those of your colleagues, with what consequences?


There is no way to come around the choice of either micro or macro level. They are interlinked. Ethically you cannot live two lives and feel comfortable: tell your children that what is vital for your professional image can be overlooked at home and vice verse. BUT: as long as you are committed to the process of designing for positive change and not regard it as a project with a beginning and an end, every contribution must count and not be de-valued as ‘not good enough’. It is transparency which counts:  even if the results are not immediately visible, it should by examples be obvious that all stakeholders are taking their responsibility. Actions on micro level are often not sufficient if there is an urgent need and no real support on the macro level. The public discourse should aim at a collective understanding of what is good and a positive change. Emotions have a tendency to obscure the more general cause and direct actions to what flashes in our eyes.


Designing for Life

Life is an all encompassing experience. And all that is put into that experience is part of Life on all levels. Is being a good designer then not synonymous to being able to perceive life on multiple levels? And to design for life equal to creating a holistic experience that is designed into those different levels in that experiental system called life?


Life has many dimensions. Not only generally but also specifically: The layers are innumerable within as well as between populations.

Do: Feel responsible for what you design.

Don’t: project the responsibility to your client or anyone else.

Do: Even if participatory design is overrated as a way to create ownership, it adds to a feeling of community.

Don’t: When designing for life, never regard any group as outsiders, ‘the other’.

Don’t: One-dimensional design never creates owner-ship as it is excluding, not in harmony with human ways of being.


How can design understand our cultures?

Looking at how culture shapes the way we work thus affecting design and the reverse how does design affect our culture and the way we work. How can design be more affective in terms of understanding our cultures, who we are and then finding solutions that are important for our lives, the way we work thus affecting our life quality, wellness and health. An interactive workshop discussion and debate; where the workshop delegates contribute from their own cultural perspective.


Culture is a very rich resource due to its variation: between cultures but not least within each culture, where there seem to be a number of expressions. One example is Sweden and Finland: though several similarities, the business climate is totally different. In Finland hierarchy still rules whilst in Sweden consensus is the general aim.

The resources embedded in culture are often not immediately evident but has to be researched as part of every design assignment and architectural project: as many cultural experiences as possible have to be brought to the surface and taken into consideration. Regard to culture is a precondition for long-term quality, which is what in the end generates money!


How is design designing people?

The context for this discussion is to acknowledge the act of design in a broad sense. We all need to acknowledge the vital presence of design in our life whatever is our condition, culture, history and lifestyle.

Generally, design is evidenced through the material outcomes that affect the quality of everyday life, but when it comes to think about LIFE LINE – the very line of destiny, design has directional consequences in human life, it shapes our present and our future.


Humans do in a way carry a shell, which they can get rid of, adjust or change. Our inner is less flexible. When trying to adjust our outer, we are dependent on what is available for the creation of a better shell or at least an improvement of it. Designers are not merely creating tools for these improvements but they also condition space [where we carry the shell around]: the quality of our environment, of our habitat. Every action has to be extrapolated not only in the present but also with regard to the future: added impact. Designers are of course merely one of several actors on this arena and they are often impaired by political decisions and ignorance as well as by limited resources. But they should not refrain from applying a holistic view when working with reference to these obstacles: good examples always get followers.


How can we make real change?

Hybrid SUVs, low energy plasma TVs, sustainable leather sofas and organic oranges – is it really enough?

How can we make the necessary change possible in a constructive, positive and sufficient way?


For real change to happen, we need role models: successful companies, like IKEA and H&M, but also people with charisma and influence who from their respective viewpoints tell the story of sustainability, humanity, affluence and success.

Sustainability is by media too often pictured as something difficult.  They tell mostly negative and alarming stories, which consequently are used as pretexts. We therefore need media role models as well: someone who takes on to make us proactive in a positive spirit, create a New Thrill as opposed to promote the Latest.

Sustainability should neither be difficult nor abstract. Therefore we need tools to help us in our everyday sustainable action: instead of superfluous functions in our mobile phones, we could have functions which constantly update us on the right choices, product availability and also reminds us of saving energy. Electricity meters could on a continuous basis tell us not only how much we consume but also changes in consumption and what this means in costs. Pedagogy is important in every learning situation.


How can we make design more culturally connected?

Design is always about humans – about satisfying needs, solving problems and attracting us towards new experiences. This implies that great design often is founded on a social and cultural perspective. Still most (at least a lot) of design is technology-centered. How can we push the shift towards more and better human-centered design?


In the 90th we talked about MacDonaldisation, now we have changed to Amazonisation when we want to point at bland global culture. Is there a difference? MacDonalds brought, and brings, one concept without variation to every culture whilst Amazon brings one concept which allows customisation: we can choose music, books and films and a variety of other products which mirror different parts of the world without demanding us to think or become engaged. Western culture encapsulates other cultures in a way which prevents us from seeing the limits of our own: the standard is set and all other cultures are measured against this standard. “Big disasters happens somewhere else because we are skilled enough to make precautions”. The risk: insight and inspiration will grow in other cultures and one day we will be disconnected! To connect, do not set yourself as a standard.


How to design for urban life?

Last year Designboost discussed ‘Long Live the City’. A majority of people live in cities and urban planning is thus crucial for the harmony in their life: bodily and mental. Which are the most important points to set up for Design for Urban Life?


The key word for Urban Life is Mixture. Activities: dwelling, working, relaxing, exploring, experiencing. Service for joy and care: shops, restaurants, hospitals, markets, museums, galleries. People: ages, classes and cultures.

To design for urban life is thus to enhance mixture and design against segregation: allow for density, abolish ‘downtown’ as the one centre of a city, facilitate mobility, increase security (crime and fear keeps people from mixing), create meeting places/inspire community. Build on a city’s inherent capacity: dependence on external resources works against mixture as someone without interest in the actual place sets the rules.


Mind the gap?

If sustainability is to be accepted into the DNA of design, and not ultimately rejected as something alien, it must evolve into something that, directly and intensively, delivers value and well being itself to users, citizens, consumers.

How can the gap, between the constraints of the environment, and the needs of modern humans for expression, creativity, exuberance – life – best be bridged by innovative design?


Sustainability must first of all be regarded as a process and not a project. It must thus be incorporated and seen as an improvement in every action, object or service offered to or affecting citizens. The comment ‘… and it is also sustainable’ should never be heard. Designers cannot achieve this by themselves but actively create examples by:

  • Questioning the inertia created by convention.
  • Transfer from linear to non-linear thinking.
  • Be aware/learn about how the earth works: which systems that are in place.
  • Take on leadership for driving change.


How can we create better lives for the many?

It’s time to rethink design. To create long time value instead of short time profit. To build the future on generosity instead of greed. How do we best Design for Life and innovate for a positive future for the many?


The fact that we have accumulated problems over decades should not discourage us to stop talking and act. Every action counts!

  • New ideas have to be tried out in a small scale before being applied in larger context. The contrary might create disillusion.
  • Demolish today’s isolated silos of decision and create new  ‘decision’ platforms which allow regard to a true mix of public, private, business and civil interests.
  • The knowledge about human ways of being must become more profound. One example: the power of aesthetics for harmony is constantly underestimated.
  • Interaction in public as well as in business planning is crucial to create variety and choice.


Are design issues luxury problems?

You could say food, heath and safety are core issues for life. There are many others like education and wellbeing as well. Where and when does design have a role?


Design issues are not luxury problems if designers work for the better of ordinary people. This is the core problem today: they often do not and design is hence and with reason regarded as fairly elitist.

  • Short-termism is only for the affluent.
  • User-centred means that there is a typology: who is set as the type?
  • The heralding of consumption has introduced dissatisfaction among those who cannot consume in the same pace as others. Consumption is an important part of life but life should even so be lived, not consumed.

In design we need: long-term thinking, a human-centred approach and awareness about how to avoid promoting dissatisfaction.

SESSION TWO 13.00 – 14.30


Who creates the place?

Are people primarily adjusting to a place; a city area, an apartment block etc, or are they actively creating their place wherever they come? The latter may seem obvious but are then architects and urban planners in fact designing these places with this re-creation in mind?


Is democratic participation the solution for the re-creation of place as opposed to people merely adjusting to a place? Democratic participation is time consuming but rewarding, less for the actual creation than for ensuring positive attitudes and an early feeling of inclusion. However, experience has proved that non-professionals, including politicians, have difficulties creating images from drawings and sketches which limits their ability to express what and how they want a place to be. Once realised, they can tell what is right and wrong though. This poses a problem as not only private but also public space would fare long-term well from a flexibility which would allow re-creation. Is the solution to ask for visual instead of verbal expression? To encourage participants to show images of places/environments where they have been happy? And to browse archives and make real life studies of how places actually function? Like Bo01 in Malmö and parts of the South Bank in London. People will re-create their own environment if the environment allows this!


Who has the responsibility?

Unfortunately it seems as if the organic/Co2 wave is fueled by the marketing departments of “first mover” brands, as a sales boosting gimmick, and not by the consumer. How do we change this attitude? Or is it in fact the responsibility of the industry instead of the consumer to push the subject?


The more hierarchic a society, the more irresponsibility is to be found among grassroots. The ideal is shared responsibility where consumers are proactive in demanding change and improvement. The contradiction is that consumers united constitute a major force but which is hampered by the obvious consumer role: to increase consumption and make the economic wheels turn fast enough to create a prosperous society. This means that initiatives must come from public as well as private bodies to create a climate which encourages consumers to unite and react. It is more a question of re-directing consumption and demand better things than to hamper it. The industry could turn this into a business advantage and the politicians into a popularity gain.


How to plan for accessibility?

Conventional urban planning uses mobility to solve transportation needs that springs from the planning itself. How can we use a more sensible approach and plan for ACCESSIBILITY, so that you can easily access everything you need using “soft mobility” (walking and bicycling) and electrified public transport?


Accessibility is too often hampered by a city planning where blocks are mapped without giving a feeling of being what they are intended to be: a functioning neighbourhood. The only realistic way to improve accessibility in fast growing cities is to create grids, like originally was done in Barcelona. In this grid ‘everything’ is within walking or cycling distance. Not only does this type of planning reinforce community but it also facilitates mind-mapping: creates a comprehensible image and contributes to a sense of ownership.

A different issue is general infrastructure: less favoured areas are too often badly connected to more favoured parts as also to recreation areas. This contributes effectively to segregation and promotes hostility.


How can design give life and how can we give life to design?

Questions to discuss

1. What role does production expertise play in the design process?

2. Are there any other good or bad examples of this in different countries?

3. How can we support and develop local craftsmanship skills to give life to future design?

  1. How can we use design as a tool to give people back their lives and identities?


The current trend of outsourcing has become a major factor in depraving design of life and preventing it from giving life.

Outsourcing has to be done with skill and with a holistic viewpoint to prevent the following:

  • Designers do not experience their designs coming live.
  • Knowledge is wasted and difficult to recuperate.
  • The design process becomes fragmented, which counteracts a holistic approach to sustainability.


Is sustainable design the goal?

Is sustainable life really attractive as a way of living? Isn’t sustainable design just the minimum? If you compare with your relation to your husband or wife, we don’t think you are satisfied if it is just sustainable? What’s the next step concerning sustainable design? How can we take it to a higher level?


If sustainability is applied as a project and not a process, it might easily become ‘boring’: create a life full of additional ‘musts’. If you equal good life with succumbing to every desire and call for ‘more’, all restrictions would be regarded as limiting your individual aspirations. However, rather than a restriction, regard to sustainability might be a help in changing a way of living that has become more compulsory than enjoyable: change focus from surface to awareness and thereby unload the burden of dissatisfaction troubling your mind?


How can we tell credible stories?

Storytelling is an important fundament for mankind. An object or service without history is fiction and an object or service which has not moved on from history is retrospective. An authentic product could be seen as a mix of the two. With this in mind, how can our products, services, cities etc tell better and more credible stories?


Storytelling has become a very efficient marketing tool. Potent examples are the car industry and – not least – the computer manufacturers: a PC owner is a looser while an Apple owner is cool! However, storytelling could be used in a totally different way: project history to the present and the future and remind us of what we need – and give it to us with a good story!

The fictional merging of body and appliance could be viewed as a good – and bad – prospect. It will mean fewer things but how then to show our identity? Will it cause demand for yet another generation of objects, gadgets, which will pollute the planet and strain our resources?


Designing interior spaces.

‘Long live the city’ focuses the built and green environment. Is it at all possible to talk about ‘a sustainable city’ without looking simultaneously at the designed interior environments? According to many reports people appropriate the space differently or completely independent of the designer’s intention, which would mean that designers’ contributions are diminished or of less value.


Very few people do not care at all about their interior space. Contrary to many other professionals, the interior designer is constantly faced with clients which are ‘amateur specialists’. A lot of the designer’s intent is easily lost in talk and void of listening. However, a skilled interior designer has learned to understand the ‘silent message’ embedded in the talk. Most people have difficulties in verbally expressing how they want things to be. A more effective way is to ask the client to visualise, create an image, of how he/she wants the space to look and function. The designer’s contribution is to translate this image into a pleasing and functioning interior.


How can shared knowledge make a difference?

When starting out to solve a defined problem it is important to have a holistic mindset. If people from different cultures with various backgrounds start to combine their knowledge extraordinary things can happen. How can we speed up this convergence, using design thinking as a method?


Knowledge sharing is to present good examples. To set these examples side by side creates a structure which crosses cultural borders and immediately reveals the influence of fashion and trends in design. The core, which is left when obvious temporal cultural strains are quarantined, is the gain of the sharing.

In this respect, knowledge sharing is one way to design the actual problem or the task at hand.


Is ‘design’ the problem?

In commercial terms most ‘design’ is actually about fashion, and only the tip of the proverbial glacier is what Designboost’s audience would consider aspirational ‘design’. How do we design fashion out of design?


A potent problem in design is the language, which was created in a different time and for partly different purposes: ever expanding economies and resources which could not dry up. The language in politics and business is also based on an organisational model which has become outdated. When there is no common language it is difficult to share visions. These get hold up in a flurry of denominations, interpreted at individual convenience and promoting fashion as well as hindering aspirations.


What is the main drive for design?

What could be or should the main drive for design when economies change (financial crises an changing worldwide positions).

We have a financial crises at the moment… and also a phenomena that strong economies are moving to other parts of the world. What effect does that have on our lives, and what positive or negative effects could this have on design?


Designers are currently having an identity crisis: are they the root of the evil or the hope for improvement?

As a way out of this crisis, they ought to relate to a relevant story: what am I up to, what is my role in this assignment, am I contributing to something better? To design is to service and a designer can and should be at the service of several masters but only those she/he respects. A designer is also free to tell a new story, for example that every design has an impact on our physical habitat, directly or indirectly, and that this impact has to be considered and valued.

SESSION THREE 14.45 – 16.15



Can “trust” be the problem solver? In our lives we are spending most of our time of controlling, securing and organizing issues. If we would have unconditional trust on each other: We could be so much more concentrating on real issues, tasks, problems and getting things done.


People only trust their masters, read rulers, if they experience that these care for their survival.  Humans learn to trust those they feel protect them. All legislators ought to consider this very carefully because without trust every individual is pre-occupied with fighting for its own survival and protection and has neither time nor force to attend to other, common issues.  In countries where food and shelter is not warranted, sustainability is consequently low on the agenda.


Can design as a function be outsourced?

The tendency in design – fashion, industrial design, software – is outsourcing. Will the outsourcing of this function be detrimental to the design quality?

In essence: Where is the designer most needed: in the market place or close to the production facilities? When certain aspects of design are outsourced, how does this change the qualities needed to achieve design excellence?


It is to no surprise that without production, competence vanishes. UK has today very little manufacturing industry left. Engineering and related education has hence become of inferior quality and less in demand. The designer role will successively change into concept and strategy design, rather than product design when production is outsourced. Are designers today educated for this role: to convey a strategy to the producing company and leave for them to build up a collection?

Is outsourcing a real future or a future which is already behind us?

Several of those countries which today are the destination of outsourcing, like India, China and in Europe still Portugal and Turkey, have a growing interest in issues related to design and offer also good quality design education.


Should we redefine the function?

Life itself is the theme of the designers work. How could the design object be a material for thinking and reflecting? Could we then say that the function of the object should be redefined?


If we redefine an object’s function, we have to first define it: do we mean the physical or the mental/semantic function? An objects role as a signifier is often quite separated from its more physical purpose: for example, a rose sent via Facebook is consumed merely as a sign.

An object could be consumed as a sign without being used and also the other way round: being used without being consumed as a sign. Logically, consumption does not take place if the consumer does not develop ownership of the object: it is more like a transit via a person on the way from being bought to being used.

History has a lot to tell or teach when it comes to objects which serve as signifiers or which are merely usable.


How to see beyond the physical materials?

When involved in design development you have to remember to go below the physical materials and walls and develop design also on a psychological level.

How can we when designing create more and better transformation between different anti poles, such as local/global, technology/philosophy, metaphorical/concrete and body/mind?


In every object lies a potential to human attachment. This potential is quite immediate: ‘I will return to the shop where I saw the blue chair. It is that one or none’. This is contrary to common belief not an example of presentism but rather a beginning of a lasting relation.

Physical characteristics also work on the psychological level through tactility: for example the sensuality in the material when touched, the smell of wood or leather, the simplification for the eye etc. These sensual experiences might then have different implications dependent on culture, climate and so on.

Other variables beyond the material are recognition, experience, improvement and meaning which all together would mean that to move between anti poles demands interpretation of the incentives for ownership.


What comes after IKEA?

All organisations will eventually fade away. New generations with other values will take place of an older generation – having other needs, desires and behaviours. There are probably micro trends already today giving us hints about the future beyond IKEA. So let us try to be visionary and say the forbidden: IKEA is dead long live XXX.


The current post-industrial age is characterised by the waste economy, the dominance of knowledge companies but also by a quite opaque society.

This age has by force to be replaced by a commitment economy, more metabolic companies (breathing, adaptive and self-sufficient) and general transparency.

What would this implicate concerning IKEA? They will probably have to move from marketing commitments to acts of more profound character, like not merely promise not to use child labour (and thus in reality hand them over to an employer with even less conscious) but to give these children a future through education in IKEA Carpentries etc. They will also have to expand their commitments from ‘what is good for IKEA’ to ‘what is good for all stakeholders in IKEA’.

What in the IKEA business idea is not sustainable and might start a downward slope if not acted on? Is it already obvious that IKEA is too big to be adaptive? And thus has become less trustworthy? That it still uses the language dating from the time of its creation? And thereby alludes to a time when economical growth was taken for granted and we thought that happiness could be bought?


How can we save diversity?

How interesting is it to travel to another country or continent, just to realise that you for a moment don’t know were you are; Tokyo, New York, Moscow, London or….? Wherever you go, you find look-a-like airports, shops or hotels. How can we save diversity by stopping this phenomena to grow even bigger? Or is it unavoidable?


Though we still often get the feeling of living among global ‘blands’, diversity is on the agenda. But, as all the bland buildings, interiors and services represent big investments, we will have to endure them for many years to come. Competition from diversification will however force these ‘blands’ to constantly make directional changes, which mirror cultures and regional characteristics.


Do we need another chair?

Unfortunately design has partly turned into a major source of pollution. Just look at everything modish and the hunt for newness. A big part of the industry are focusing on more when we actually need better. How can we through better thought through design processes create better design that can actually make a difference and not only filling up our refuse dumps?


A major issue is the balance between quality and need. If we/designers serve needs that are not well seen to, we are doing something for the better. On the other hand, if we add another object of desire, we waste resources. Designers are not generally designing for the ‘grassroots’ as they, as frequently heard, cannot ‘compromise quality’, which in turn has become increasingly expensive due ‘the designer label’ being used as a marketing tool and accepted as a quality as such. Instead of another designer chair, we might need a less expensive, bad good quality chair, which well can carry a designer name if it does not add to the price.

Quality is not an absolute notion and should not be applied as such. Processes in nature sometimes carry simple, but high quality solutions. That is why bio-mimicry holds a potential: design on natures own conditions.


Who is the target?

There is user centred and human centred design. What is the real difference?


User-centred design implies that there is a type: the user. Who is she or he and what does this person represent? The only thing we know for sure is that he/she is a human, which must be addressed before any other user aspects are considered.

A great misconception seems to be that humans can handle an enormous amount of information and choices, whilst in fact the conscious mind has limited resources and rejects or stores information in the non-conscious where it quickly becomes irrelevant when it comes to choices.

The number of available products is overwhelming and confusing for the human mind as is too many choices when it comes to handling a specific product.

Human centred design ought in general to filter itself. Enough is enough!


Design to improve life expectancy?

Let us decide for a moment that Design for Life is design to improve life expectancy. Even if this is individual and also differs between rich and poor nations/regions, people have basically a lot in common? – taken into account that it may express itself differently?


Life expectancy is enhanced when people feel they are in control. This goes for rich as for poor. The design of processes and systems, which empower people, preconditions ‘a better life’.

Dependent on affluence, needs have to be addressed on the appropriate level: banking in developing countries has little to do with banking systems in more affluent parts of the world.

BUT as humans basically have a lot in common, it is not farfetched to learn that the design of a process for a less developed environment can be of benefit also in a more complex context where it would mean healthy simplification. This goes for design of objects as well: objects designed for elderly tend to be loved by all ages exactly due to simplification: recognisable aesthetics and functionality.


Is design driven by life or economy?

In what way are designers and design companies really looking at life, human behaviour and habits? And… is the keeping-your-company-alive mentality enough as a drive to come forward with new products?


It looks like in good times companies make efforts to re-value and improve their products and services, whilst in bad times it is merely money that counts. One perfect example is airlines: the change from ‘transporting’ to ‘giving a travel experience’ came in the euphoric eighties when business class was introduced together with an overhaul of general comfort etc. With a few exceptions airlines today are back to ‘transporting’ as a means to improve profitability. Very contradictory as transporting is in excess and airports a mess. KLM/Air France has through their merger cut down on transporting but improved the travel experience considerably.

The US car industry is another example, blind and deaf to life enhancing issues and the public discourse as well as to humans ongoing struggle to comply with ‘going green’ and adapt to a different type of driving and mobility, they insisted on SUVs and other big, heavy, thirsty and polluting vehicles – also with the European car makers they bought. The result is part of today’s economic crisis.

A company which stops to care and messes up its ideology will eventually go bust.

SESSION FOUR 16.30 – 18.00


Design as a political tool?

Dealing with really complex problems is a highly political task. Stakeholders must not only be involved as much as possible throughout the process, but empowered as well for a solution to be realised successfully. Does this change the way we need to design, and how?


Every ambitious professional has to see his or her task in a context. This would mean that designers, in this case, ought to widen their scope and cultivate their competence beyond the specifically ‘designerly’. Politicians often lack deep knowledge and are dependent on advisors when dealing with complex problems. If designers or people working close to designers not take on a serious role as advisors and debaters, designs contribution to solve these complex problems will neither be sufficiently illuminated nor valued.

Complex problems in society was long ago named ‘Wicked problems’ and referred to situations where rational thinking was not valid. Designers, if any, are well in place to argue that rationality is not always the answer or the way to a successful solution. Designers have over the years improved their skill to work with the non-rational to be able to meet human needs. There is more to be done though.


Cooperation for change?

To be able to make better Design for Life we have to improve cooperation. How can we make companies, institutions and organisations and practitioners of design in its broadest context collaborate in new and creative ways?


Is cooperation the right word or the correct way?

Our communication society merit the by-line: networks for all!

To share knowledge, being part of networks and associate rather than employ or being employed appears to be the flexibility that meets the demands of our contemporary society. Complex matters need differentiated input: involving many people, but competition has even so to be kept alive for the system to retain its dynamic.

For the network society to function well, we need processes and practises which are easily accessible, well known and can be put in place without much delay. Experiences from traditional ‘project groups’ include long starting up time and risk for certain bureaucracy: over-reporting.


Designing downsizing

The rife idea of happiness is quite often mainly defined by consumption. But there is a change. Today more and more people voluntarily chose to downsize, and this trend is growing both as a personal choice and because we have less money to spend. How can we design a new way to live where consumption is not the overall symbol for happiness and success?


Consumption will probably always be the preferred route to happiness and harmony. But there are so many different types of consumption and several varieties are overlooked or rendered less prestigious.  Consuming nature! Consuming scenery! Consuming slowness! If we slightly change the meaning of consumption to mean objects and services we really appropriate or where we feel true ownership, the situation alters: we do not consume too much, we buy, use and throw away too much.  And in doing this, we are constantly on the outlook for better products, or products which do not exist.

Media could well help in conveying the message: “apart from the necessary consumables, do not buy what you do not want to own!”


How can design push integration?

Design is a great tool to create better life for the many. It is hence also a political tool. Looking at the EU community – how can design best be used as a tool for creating integration among present and coming countries in the EU countries?.


Younger people are the prime ‘tool’ for continuous and better integration within the EU. This makes students an important group for our efforts: we must inspire them to work in a way which also complies with students in other countries. As teachers we have a better overview and can help them widen their scope and regard design solutions as something that more often than not matters beyond their own immediate context. This way, inspired development is transferred within the EU community, not by chance but by intent.

Again, as teachers we have the advantage of facing people, the students, who want to be instructed and do ask for help to focus their interest. There is for example too little R&D and too much consultancy, perhaps because we assume that this is what students want to do and consequently refrain from promoting also the value of depth.


Can we afford luxury?

It is often heard that people generally need some kind of luxury or at least to get a feeling of luxury to be happy. Is it therefore fair to design for luxury or at least for bling-bling?


Luxuries have to a large extend become synonymous with luxury brands. This is not the case! Luxury is basically about quality: a well crafted wooden object is luxury whilst a Ferrari is not: it is opulence.  And quality is important for our state of mind even if it of course is a relative notion and has to be one: otherwise people who cannot afford luxury should be deprived of happiness! What is luxury for you means something else to me and that is how it ought to be.


Design against more?

It is very ‘in vogue’ these days to speak against consumerism. However the current crisis shows what happens when we start to consume less. So, if Design for Life is a lot about designing against more, where will we end up? Can we afford to use less design? How can we stop our over-consumption without going into a new recession?


More is not merely about more products; it is also about added value, for better and for worse. Marketing add value to many products which grossly exceeds its worth and creates too much immediate and emotional response: ‘must have’. This incentive becomes so strong that we prioritise desires before needs. This would mean that it is not about consuming less but differently. As desire creates an urge to buy, companies develop objects of desire. Desires fade away fairly quickly and many of these objects are then wasted, as is the money, which means that consumption might halt, at least momentarily.

To design against more is to think differently or at least to think before developing: create momentum. The latter also involves thinking locally (what can my immediate surrounding provide me with) before going globally.


How to collaborate instead of just giving aid?

The future of design lies in it’s ability to make a positive contribution to the transformation of economies in the developing world. How can we make this happen?


The obvious alternative or pre-phase to giving aid and start to collaborate is Knowledge Transfer. This is a two-way process: not only does a receiving country need an input but so does the specialists: a transfer is most effective when it takes into account conditions at both ends.

Collaboration would be the next step and when knowledge transfer has taken place, it has a chance to be more smooth and hence ensure a more positive and fruitful outcome.


Cool and responsible at the same time?

Steve Jobs recently described Apple not as a computer company but as a company that delivers cool stuff.

Is it possible to combine cool with meaningful and responsible? Or is it already merged?


What is cool? If Steve Job means that it is enough to deliver cool stuff, his evident role as an important influencer is posing a threat. If he means that very good and important products also can be cool, it is a different story. The risk is that Apple’s younger target group gets it all wrong and start to merely look instead of posing questions.

Theoretically, it is a good thing to combine cool with responsibility as language must change if the design discourse is to move on. The companies who have already proven their excellence are best suited to introduce change.


How transform a commodity to an experience?

This is a  question about a priority. What will be more important in the future: to possess or to be? We ask: Do we need to have, to produce and to buy so many material goods?

What about a future, creative, no-material proposals?

Can we create time, design our life? What kind of tools do we need?


At the end of the day and if for instance a fire breaks out, it is well known that we all try to save the same things: objects which are proof of our being. We go for photos, nostalgic artefacts, tokens and other items which are symbols of the life we live/have lived. Most other items are more or less replaceable. This behaviour is historic, present-day and therefore probably also futuristic. In this respect humans do not seem to change. Even if the examples given above represent material objects they also act as stimuli: they remind us and evoke images of much more than they actually represent in their material form. The border line between the material and immaterial is thus fluid. Humans will always partly show who they are through their possessions. If we raise the value of a single product for example by creating a narrative, emphasising its symbolic value or aiming at meta-products (a material product whose value is reinforced by its immaterial qualities), we might redirect focus from materialism to experiences and make fewer products represent more.


How many great examples can you find?

Please list as many great examples of Designs for Life that you can think of. Express them in a way that would make them easy to understand for everyone.


Here is a list of some designs for life. We suggest those designs which

  • are true problem solvers,
  • are flexible – already redesigned or with this potential,
  • transmit meaning by vision and presence,
  • are interactive: accordance between the object and its function,
  • raise lasting emotion: affection,
  • suites many passages in life,
  • leave little footprint,
  • help us save resources,
  • (feel free to continue the list)
  • add ….
  • add ….

Kristina Börjesson was rotating moderator in all BoostChat groups and wrote the conclusions.

BoostShow running until November 14

October 19, 2009

The BoostShow (formerly known as exhibition) will this year concentrate on Design for life.

How can we make design economically, ecologically and socially justifi- able? And even more important, how can we make lives better for the many? There is a need for a new holistic viewpoint. We all have a joint responsibility to make a difference. As private individuals, companies and organizations as well as cities, regions and countries.

The BoostShow is this year, as earlier years, based on our tool and check list The Sustainable Wheel. Through “best practice” examples you will be able to experience how different designers, companies, cities and regions are adapting to the challenges of creating better lives for the many. You will find examples from Electrolux, Audi, Skanska, E.On, Thule, Iittala, City of Malmö, Region Skåne, Malmö Art Museum and many more.

In another part of the BoostShow you will find good examples of Design for life related products from companies like Helly Hansen, Peepoople, The Stockholm City Mission, life Straw, Mater, Wästberg, Marimekko, Brio, Street Swag, David Design, Zero, Hay, Hans Grohe, Kvadrat and designers like Claesson Koivisto Rune, Monica Förster, Andrea Ruggiero, Ilse Crawford, Arik levy, Apocalypse and Filipe Balestra.

We will also present a selection of our inhouse produced filmed interviews with acknowledge personalities like Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Ross lovegrove, Patricia Urquiola, Konstantin Grcic, Richard Hutten, Katrin Olina, James Irvine, Jennifer leonard, Tom Dixon, Ineke Hans, Michael Young, Alfredo Häberli, Inga Sempe, Ilka Suppanen and many more.

Printed on large banners you will be able to read the one hundred question formulations written by our Boosters as a challenge to Design for life. You will also find the question formulations printed here and there in this magazine.

The DesignBoost 2009 BoostShow will take place from October 16 to November 14.

The address is Beijerskajen 8 in Malmö (in former K3 school, for a few month renamed to “the Sustainable center”).

Opening hours: Thursday–Friday 11am–6pm Saturday–Sunday 12am–4pm. Free entrance.