1st Edition

Design Realities Creativity, Nature and the Human Spirit

By Stuart Walker Copyright 2019
    358 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    358 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Design Realities explores a wide range of topics on creativity, design and spiritual well-being. Using critique, rational inquiry and personal reflection, Stuart Walker looks squarely at our contemporary condition, demonstrates how current assumptions and material expectations are becoming untenable and, most importantly, offers constructive new directions that are feasible, spiritually enriching, and hopeful.

    Comprising short essays, lyrical pieces, photo studies and longer discourses, this book takes us on a highly readable and enjoyable journey through some of the most pressing issues of our time. The innovative, intuitive format makes these topics readily accessible, while providing much food for thought about the changing nature of creativity in today’s world.

    Written by a leading thinker in the field, this highly original book offers readers something to ponder, discuss, contest and build upon.

    Part 1: Reality  1. As it is  2. A Competitive State  3. Share Price  4. Property  5. Branded  6. Inversion  7. Unbranded  8. Reality  9. Prestige  10. Icarus Falls  11. Sellers All  12. Waste  13. Bypassed  14. Fair Game  15. What else is on?  16. My next fear  17. Time closed  18. A Moment in the Life of a Reed  19. Illusions of forever  20. Local?  21. Burying Your Dead in the Sand  22. Air  23. Carbon  24. Becoming Human  25. Internationalization  26. Craft ’n Kitsch  27. Modern and Traditional  28. Design Think  29. Enough  30. Damage  31. Seeing  Part 2: Another Reality  32. How should we live?  33. Moderation  34. Legacy  35. Ashes of Myopia  36. Closest to the Dreaming  37. Fragile  38. Being Alive  39. Nature’s Wisdom  40. Repeated Patterns  41. Profits and People  42. Return to Syros  43. What reward have ye?  44. Atomization  45. Lost  46. Authenticity  47. Change  48. Seriously  49. New  50. The Comb Shop  51. Repair  52. Resurrection  53. Photograph  54. The Human Touch  55. Perspective  56. Art  57. Drive  58. Elevator  59. And more  60. Economy  61. Beyond Protectionism  62. IP  63. Commonality and Originality  64. Secular Society  65. Sacred Time  66. Misreading Religion  67. A Stultifying Dualism  68. Faith  69. Rubens’ Jesus  70. Enculturated Blindness  71. A Christmas Story  72. Mythic Objects  73. Another Reality  Part 3: A Future Reality  74. A Wisdom Economy  75. Fair Share  76. Design Rhapsody  77. Spiritual Renewal  78. Cultural Highs and Lows  79. Improving Things  80. Moving on  81. One Manifestation of Wisdom  82. Why  83. After this?  84. A Creative Life  85. Delicate, Evanescent Things  86. Useless Things  87. Dying to Create  88. Live  89. RAW Design  90. Ruination  91. Rejuvenation  92. Things that Endure  93. The Mark Made  94. Handmade  95. Whittling  96. Foraging  97. Artefacts  98. Life  99. Improvisation  100. Progressive Design Praxis


    Stuart Walker is Professor of Design for Sustainability and a Director of the ImaginationLancaster design research centre at Lancaster University. His research focuses on design for sustainability; product aesthetics and meaning; practice-based design research; and product design that explores and expresses human values and notions of spirituality. He has written and edited numerous books and his propositional and experimental design work has been exhibited across Canada, in Italy and the UK, including an exhibition at the Design Museum, London.

    He is Visiting Professor of Sustainable Design at Kingston University, UK, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada.

    "What this book does best is bringing together for the first time some very useful foundational concepts for creative practice in a society that holds holistic well-being as a priority. In the era of ‘future thinking’, ‘smart cities’ and ‘ecosystem design’, I wonder how many scholars have set out to consider and reflect on the makeup and characteristics of the ‘cultural software’ – the historical, ideological and philosophical assumptions – that drives them. Without a doubt, what Walker has produced here is a non-instrumental comprehensive compendium of reflections, directions and premises to build upon, which is well-suited to that purpose."

    Laura Santamaria (2019): The Design Journal, https://doi.org/10.1080/14606925.2019.1661558  

    "Inspiringly radical but solidly grounded, this turns conventional norms on their head and offers a more meaningful foundation for design."

    Christopher Day MBE, Architect, author of Places of the Soul and The Eco-Home Design Guide

    "A rich compendium of sensitive reflections, poems, memories, critical reviews, and short combative essays, this book revisits the designer’s quest for values in a world overwhelmed by consumerism, greed, speed and seemingly unending environmental stupidity. Garnered from a lifetime of reading, travel, teaching and reflective design praxis, the short pieces in this book traverse a vast but always rewarding terrain. The journey is lively and enjoyable, and is lit up from within by the author’s erudition, sensitivity, deep respect for tradition and skill, and persistent ethical and aesthetic sensibility. I am confident that this book of glittering fragments will have a greater impact on young designers than many more seemingly essential tomes in design theory."

    Robert Crocker, University of South Australia, author of Someone Else’s Problem: Consumerism, Sustainability and Design

    "Design is a discipline that should be looking at the bigger picture. In this book, Stuart Walker has indeed looked at the bigger picture. This is a fascinating autobiography of thought – Walker has reflected on every facet of the world today and suggested alternatives for tomorrow. This is not purely a design thesis but an extremely accessible collection of essays, poems and pictures that engender both contemplation and discourse. Every design student and designer, indeed everyone, should read and discuss."

    Rachel Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Design Policy, Lancaster University

    "Having read Stuart Walker’s Design Realities there were times when having finished one entry I thought I’d read just one more. With words and images Walker takes us on a very personal journey through time and space contextualized with the experience of an integrating thinker who designs as a manifestation of his life. It will resonate with anyone who thinks or designs and has thought about how we got here, what we might do to make ‘here’ better and how we might leave a legacy that is worth leaving."

    JohnPaul Kusz, FIDSA, President JPKusz, Ltd., USA

    "We have all heard the figures about C02 emissions, sea level rise and species loss, but we find it difficult to translate these numbers into actions. Stuart Walker provides us with a way of experiencing the urgency and magnitude of environmental degradation through essays, poetry and design objects. Avoiding a didactic approach, he finds more accessible ways of engaging audiences, and in doing so gets to all the places that data and statistics can’t reach."

    Suzy Jones, Director, RIBA North – National Architecture Centre

    "Design Realities will benefit readers not only in their design practice but also in their thinking. It encourages us all to face up to the reality of the design process and to care much more about nature and people’s true needs."

    Professor Huiqin Zhang, Dean, School of Language and Culture, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology

    "Stuart Walker’s thoughtful and well-argued observations offer a powerful perspective on the state of today’s world – where we’ve come from; where we are; and where we should head to in the future. It is a compelling book shaped by a unique human touch and I, for one, feel changed by reading it."

    Mark Byford, Author and journalist, Former Deputy Director General, BBC

    "In Design Realities, Walker questions, often in a challenging way, deep-rooted notions of our contemporary world. This kaleidoscopic, thought-provoking collection of insights, suggestions and stimulations makes the reader think – and think hard about the realities of what we value and what it all means. It takes you on a journey without defining the destination. So get on board, hold tight and enjoy the ride."

    Professor Martyn Evans, Head of Manchester School of Art Research Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University

    "Design Realities is excellent. It just makes so much sense! How it is, how it could be, and where we need to go, combined with having each written component broken into so many bite-sized chunks, makes it so easy to understand. … It really is a masterpiece."

    Niklavs Rubenis, School of Art & Design, The Australian National University


    Stuart Walker is a leading thinker in the design for sustainability field, and this strikingly original book offers something to ponder, discuss, contest and build upon.

    … with [its] hopeful and positive message the author shows us that we can, indeed, create new realities not only by engaging with the outer world, but more importantly, by being present in the process of renewal that should be constantly taking place deep within ourselves."

    Laura Santamaria, Editor in Chief, Sublime

    "My design philosophy is based on my life philosophy and Design Realities being perfectly aligned with that, is my ‘go to’ place for knowledge and inspiration. It is essentially my mentor".

    Dean Thom, Industrial Design Engineering Student, RCA and Imperial College, London

    Amazon Reviews

    5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a collection of essays!

    9 January 2019

    Format: Paperback

    "Although I am not a design student Stuart Walker's book resonated with me on many different levels, particularly in terms of its emphasis on sustaining, building on and finding new directions for all that is good in our environment, society, culture and design traditions. It marries academic argument with more personal reflections, poetry and photography that lend harmony and accessibility to the whole, and underline the overarching message. I had expected to just dip in and out, but instead found myself fully absorbed from start to finish."

    5.0 out of 5 stars A book of thoughts and inspiration

    14 January 2019

    Format: Paperback

    "I am dipping in and out of this book and finding that each page contains gems (and ideas) which seem to come from Stuart Walker’s heart. It is making me reflect on how I live my life on a daily basis, in a very positive way. It contains stimulating ideas, of topics which I have never even thought of and all in all, I am delighted to have come across it and to be reading it. Thank you Stuart Walker"