Design and Spirituality examines the philosophical context of our current situation and its implications for design. It explores how modernity and our constricted notions of progress have contributed to today’s crisis of values, and argues for a re-establishment and re-affirmation of self-transcending priorities, together with an ethos of moderation and sufficiency.
A wide range of topics are covered, including material culture and spiritual teachings; sustainability and the spiritual perspective; traditional and indigenous knowledge; technology and spirituality; notions of meaningful design; and how particular material things can have deeper, symbolic significance. There are also reflections on areas such as the language of design; busyness and its relationship to wisdom; design and social disparity; and traditional sacred practices. While not avoiding issues that are controversial, and sometimes hard-hitting, Design and Spirituality gets to the heart of the key issues affecting us today and presents them in a highly readable and accessible format.
The author is a leading thinker in the field and he presents his arguments in a manner that invites the reader to reflect and think about where we are going, why we are going there and what really matters.
Table of Contents
- The Nature of Design
- Material Things and Spiritual Teachings
- Sustainability and Secular Liberalism
- Busyness and Wisdom
- When the Devil Drives
- Nipping the Bloom
- The Serpentine Walk
- Language Speaks
- A Complacency of Strangers
- Insecticides and Suicides
- Transcending Technology
- Jericho Road
- Design and Spirituality
- Lucratively Loveless
- Unity, Love and Design
- Shallowness and Depth
- An Impression of Intentionality
- The Inner Flame
- Religion and Atheism
- A Higher Purpose
- Material Things and Spiritual Goods
- Meaningful Design
- The Deeper Significance of Things
- At the Valley
- Traditional Knowledge
- The Dobby Stone
- Natural Magic
- Ex Voto
- The Well of Fajã dos Padres
- Sacred Smoke
- Under the Volcano
- An Expression of the Sacred
- The Mexelhote and the Molinillo
- An Object of my Affection
- Memento Mori
- Bread of Life
- The Conference of the Blind
- Something and Nothing
- The Faraway Bird
- Aesthetic Roots
- Wabi Sabi
- A Beachfront View
- Provenance, Presence and Posterity
- Nootka Sound
- Along the Highway
- Clear cut
- A Northern Town
- Vanity Fair
- What is Truth?
- The Spiritual Sensibility
- A Suitable Metaphor
- Higher Goods
- Making Special
- Truth, Goodness and Beauty
- Creating from the Heart
- Sine Fide
- The Third Exit
- Restart or Reform?
Stuart Walker is Chair of Design for Sustainability at Lancaster University where he co-founded the ImaginationLancaster Design Research Lab. He is also Visiting Professor of Sustainable Design at Kingston University and Emeritus Professor at the University of Calgary. His research focuses on environmental, social and spiritual aspects of sustainability; it has been supported by the SSHRC in Canada and the AHRC and the Arts Council in the UK. His experimental designs have been exhibited in Canada, Australia, Italy and the UK. His books include Sustainable by Design; Design Roots (lead ed.); Design for Life; and Design Realities.
"If the path to spiritual integrity lies through the way we use material things, every aspect of our relation to what is around us is significant. The challenge for us as human beings is to work out how we live humanly, taking our part in a larger and more mysterious set of processes – not trying to stand above or outside the world that makes us real. In a mixture of reflection, recollection and poetry, Stuart Walker anchors us in that ‘real world’ – so different from what we often mean by the phrase – and reintroduces us to our physical and spiritual selves."
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, author of ‘The Way of St Benedict’
"Stuart Walker takes us on a captivating journey through places and times where he addresses what might be at the very core of the next revolution: spirituality and imagination. Design and Spirituality is highly refreshing, thought provoking and a most needed game-changer in the field of sustainable design. As a designer and researcher, I was thrilled by the challenging and inspiring form of the manuscript that demonstrates how design ways can also extend to academic writing.
While recognizing and celebrating diversified worldviews, Walker shares with us a unique and profound reflection on the place objects occupy, and could occupy, in our lives. This book addresses critical aspects of dominant material cultures and the associated devastating production-consumption systems. It offers rare insights for designers by exploring alternative approaches to the world of objects, including ones that can lead to human fulfillment.
I haven’t read anything like this in the field. It is about time that design - and other disciplines that share in its early history of the industrial revolution - delve into the important body of knowledge that age-old spiritual and wisdom traditions have to offer.
Design and Spirituality is a wonderful and timely read, yet a work that will undoubtedly become timeless."
Anne Marchand, Associate Vice-Rector, Research, Discovery, Creation & Innovation, Université de Montréal
"In these short essays, Stuart Walker stimulates us to think more deeply about both design and the daily objects we take for granted. He argues that these are not just technical issues. They need to be considered in relation to wider questions about the kind of society we want to live in, the values we want to live by and in the end what we think and feel about the mystery of human existence."
Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, author of ‘Art and the Beauty of God’
"This book is timely and important. Many professions are making a turn to spirituality to engage questions of sustainability, ethics, authenticity and integrity in their practice. This book addresses such questions with depth and creative insight for those working in architecture and design."
Bernadette Flanagan, Chair, Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE), Ireland
"This book is a wonderful example of how creativity and imagination that emerge from the academic study of design show the way to spirituality and to values of meaning and purpose, reconciling these two paths of knowledge."
Rossano Zas Friz De Col, SJ, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome
"Design and Spirituality explores the realm of meaning and symbolism, bringing back a transcendental dimension of humanity that has been eroded from our professional environments in the modern Western world. Through the lens of spirituality, Walker challenges us to look beyond the surface of our material existence to access the infinite layers of beauty and wisdom available to all who dare to seek. Walker shows that, despite cultural and philosophical differences, we all share universal truths. Design and Spirituality opens a new era and vision for design well suited to the new societies we envision, calling us to transcend our creative concern – from commodity to communion, from despair to hope, from fate to destiny."
Laura Santamaria, Director, Design and Culture, Loughborough University London
"We should renew our material culture to be more ecological and human-centered. By bringing spirituality into the discourse, Stuart Walker’s book is an excellent contribution to the accomplishment of this urgent task."
Laszlo Zsolnai, President, European Spirituality in Economics & Society Institute (SPES), Leuven, Belgium