The autumn season feels more concrete now with reds and yellow leaf coverage popping out. If I was to summarise this past month for me it would be about change! Two cases of covid in my household threw my writing schedule out of kilter with some red-eye inducing early starts and long hours commuting by car. My daily routines have suffered and it has been really hard to get back into the groove of writing.
It is not lost on me that part of the reason for my move out of London was to design a more sustainable way of living. But I have been feeling like the world’s biggest hypocrite sitting in traffic and filling my car with petrol in the middle of fuel crisis. Daily eighty mile commutes REALLY are energy-sapping. Motion sickness an unwelcomed and persistant ailment I never knew I had.
What has made me open my eyes is just how sticky car dependency is in the UK. I’m 10 minutes walk away from a suburban neighbourhood where front gardens have been paved over to accommodate cars. The cars spill over onto the streets with consideration for pedestrians an afterthought.
I find it maddening and it has made me question just how sustainable suburban/rural life can be compared with city living?
This month has seen me venture back into Central London and back into the office. The overground trains feel luxurious with space and seats available even when jumping on close to the centre. Most commuters are masked up and respectful, with the occasional exception. On my commute, I passed by a rather sorry looking Battersea Power station. It feels like an opportunity has been wasted to turn that huge site into something truly special. Instead, developers have pulled the trick of making the original building, at one point the largest brick building in Europe, feel diminished.
It’s the very British disease that a development HAS to have private development if it to be greenlit. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Sara Cultural Centre in Sweden shows the value in building something that has cultural and civic value, which in turn brings economic value. This is the complete opposite to what Battersea Power Station offers with its private gyms and pools for the few not the many.
This month I’ve been thinking about different types of systems and weaving it into my daily practice as a strategic designer. Earlier this month I received my copy of Flexible Visual Systems by Martin Lorenz. It lays out how to design visual identities BUT it’s about systematically crafting an approach to design. There are some solid commonalities between this book and strategic design.
Craig Mod has crafted a lovely video on his bookmaking journey Kissa by Kissa. Disclaimer I bought the 1st edition last year but to see the attention he’s put in subsequent editions is mind-blowing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4u5_UyQoyw
NYTimes has an interesting take on how the demand for Vinyl has led to its own supply chain issues. It’s crazy how a now much smaller vinyl industry has accidentally created the conditions for people wanting more https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/21/arts/music/vinyl-records-delays.html
COP26 is on the horizon and in the UK there is the very real prospect of energy poverty this coming winter. FutureGov explores how we can transition to a low energy carbon system https://blog.wearefuturegov.com/understanding-the-need-for-low-carbon-energy-systems-in-uk-homes-bd810096db81