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The Spirit of Design


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Sambo's Stones: Sustainability and Meaningful Objects 3. Following Will'o The Wisps and Chasing Ghosts: Re-Directing Design Through Practice-Based Research 4. After Taste: the Power and Prejudice of Product Appearance 5. Extant Objects: Seeing Through Design 6. Sermons in Stones: Argument and Artefact for Sustainability 7. Gentle Arrangements: Objects of Disciplined Empathy 8. The Chimera Reified: Design, Meaning and the Post-Consumerism Object 9. The Spirit of Design: Notes from the Shakuhachi Flute 10. Wrapped Attention: Designing Products for Evolving Permanence and Enduring Meaning 11. Temporal Objects: Design, Change and Sustainability 12. Meaning in the Mundane: Aesthetics, Technology and Spiritual Values 13. Wordless Questions: the Physical, the Virtual and the Meaningful 14. Epilogue

About the Author

Professor Stuart Walker is Head of Design and Co-Director of the Imagination Lancaster creative research lab at Lancaster University, UK and Visiting Professor of Sustainable Design at Kingston University, UK. Formerly, he was Associate Dean at the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Canada where he retains his affiliation. His research papers have been published and presented internationally and his conceptual designs have been exhibited at the Design Museum, London, across Canada and in Italy. He also serves on the editorial boards of several international journals. His book, Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice is also published by Earthscan.


These days design is a glamorous covering draped over machines whose final purpose is the satisfaction of desire. Stuart Walker is reopening the issue of design with provocative experiments and thoughtful reminders of what design should be--the moral excellence of the material culture. Albert Borgmann Regents Professor of Philosophy, University of Montana, author of Real American Ethics (2006) Stuart Walker has provided a valuable reflection on the nature of design in our time, as we seek to move beyond the consumption model that has driven design thinking for decades. I am glad to recommend it as an important addition to the growing literature on sustainability and the moral responsibility of design. Richard Buchanan Professor of Design, Management, & Information Systems, Co-Editor, Design Issues Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, USA In the age of networks and sustainability, material products will still have to be designed, produced and used. But they will have also to be deeply re-thought. The same is true for product design: for its practice but also, and most of all, for its cultural meaning. aStuart Walker's The Spirit of design. Objects, Environment and Meaningaindicates a challenging way of dealing with these topics. A very original one. Ezio Manzini Professor of Design, Politecnico di Milano The Spirit of Design is a series of narrative compositions challenging the practical, ethical and spiritual functionalism of our contemporary design and material cultures. aJust like the example of the Japanese shakuhachi flute invoked in the text, this book is immediately accessible but will deeply reward anyone who invests time. Alastair Fuad-Luke Professor of Practice, School of Art and Design, Aalto University, Finland, author of Design Activism (2009)

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