Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Ecofeminism

For the thousands of years’ humans and nature have existed very close to each other, developing a very special relationship where humans understood the intertwined connections of the ecosystems and all living things. As nature was an essential for the survival, Indigenous people learn to take as much as give back, nature was being protected. It was not about the gain and well being of an individual, but the well being of the whole.

In the philosophy of Indigenous people all individuals are part of the kinship based community, community which is part of the nature. They manage resources responsibly, share equally and believe in “enoughness”, creating an a balanced, harmonized and sustainable system.

This Indigenous Knowledge is rooted in a profound belief in a power of a place and the knowledge that has been gathered in this place throughout hundreds of years by the ancestors, their traditions and their observations of an ongoing changes.The Indigenous societies have been sustainably taking care of the environment for thousands of years, but so much of it has been destroyed in just around 200 years of time, leaving nature in imbalance. The place they are living in is a core of attitudes and beliefs of Indigenous people, therefore it was possible for them to construct this sustainable way of living.

“The concept of sustainability has always been central to Indigenous culture; North Americans Believe that you consider the impacts of your actions on the next seven generations. In Australia there is a world view amongst many Indigenous people that you don’t inherit the land, you hold it in trust for the future generations.”- Larissa Behrendt

These ideas should be promoted in the modern societies. An artist and author Rick Hill believes that “this indigenous knowledge that we’ve learnt from countless experiences will help us help the earth.”

Ecofeminism is a movement proposes that the cause for an ecological destruction is Capitalist Patriarchy structure of the society, where women are oppressed and withheld from the resources while men are in power to control and use them. A hierarchical structure exists in this system where some living things are valued more than others, according to which humans are more important than nature, animals and plants are less worthy. In this system males are valued over females.

Using gender as a vantage point, Ecofeminism looks at an area where environmental exploitation and gender oppression issues both overlap.

Being a big part of an Ecofeminist movement, Vandana Shiva explains the idea of a “mother earth” in modern society has become an idea of a superstition, “a few hundred years ago an assumption was made that nature is dead”.

Vandana believes that women as a gender are being considered as non-important. Ecofeminism ties these two issues together into a cause of an ecological destruction.

Ecofeminism proposes that nature is linguistically feminine. It can be explored in terms like “mother nature”, “virgin timber”, “fertile soil” etc, however its’ main point is that both genders should live in harmony not dominating each other and not dominating over nature.

There is also so much to learn from the Indigenous Knowledge Systems that could be applied in contemporary practices, moving toward more sustainable practices, leading back to harmony between humans and nature.


Triple Bottom Line and Corporate Social Responsibility

In 1990’s author John Elkington introduced 21st Century business world with a new term Triple Bottom Line, which is a system which would broaden a concept of company’s success by going beyond measuring it by its economic growth only, adding social and environmental aspects to it (profit, people and planet). Successful and sustainable business would have to consider people at any point affected and in participation, making sure local communities are engaged and fair wages are paid for the workers, if the business impacts positively on the local economy and the environment, how well are the local legislation’s complied etc.

However, it has become necessary to question companies and hold them responsible for any unsustainable or unethical actions. CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility demands for business to go beyond the requirements, as legislation often too poor, for an example minimum wage in many places is far from the living wage. Since many companies have been investigated and different misconducts were brought to light to public, it is now in any company’s interest to justify themselves and prove their care for the environment and people.

Many businesses are now trying to portray themselves as ethical with the help of various campaigns with the help of adverts shown on social media, television and anywhere online. It is questionable if corporations are truly being responsible or if their effort go only as far as it is enough to show public a piece of them “making a difference”.

For an example, the guilty for being caught unethical fashion giant H&M created their Conscious Campaign to a World Recycle Week with an aim to collect 1000 tonnes of clothes to recycle while giving away vouchers promoting consumerism. It is debatable if this made big enough environmental difference, as according to Lucy Siegle it would take H&M 12 years to recycle such an amount of donations, an amount of clothing that brand produces in 2 days.

Often ideas and issues brands claim to tackle are way too grand, however very impressive.

Conco Coffee launched an amazing campaign of combating the gang issue in San Pedro Sula, Republic of Honduras in Central America one of the most homicidal and dangerous city in the world. “Coffee vs Gangs” gave a hope for a different 20 young people at risk of falling to gangs, by providing a 1 year long course of growing coffee while living on a remote farm. An amazing and dangerous attempt for a company to change lives with a collaboration with artists to create short real life story films to be shown in public. Again, does company truly cares about tackling the gang issue in San Pedro Sula or is it all just big enough to show to public and appear like making a difference?

There are many examples of companies trying to appear better by collaborating with celebrities, creating films, adverts, campaigns and promising changes. Can any corporations be believed to have a real interest in being ethical? Should businesses inform consumers not only of their attempts in CSR but also of their misdeeds?

Film Review: Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky

Many directors could only dream of making a film that explores the complexities of faith, desire and self-discovery. Tarkovsky has paralleled the perspectives of three individuals, each in the pursuit of a deeper meaning. Using a juxtaposition of nature and wasteland, he creates visual narratives through camera angles and changes in aesthetics that are perfectly syncopated with the story to form the emotional backbone of his heavily metaphorical tale.

Cordoned off with barbwire by a military state that fears its power, The Zone is the destination of Writer and Professor, both of whom are guided into the dangerous no-man’s land by Stalker, whom has intimate knowledge of the place. The aggressive, self-loathing Writer has embarked on this journey in search of “inspiration”, the Professor is determined to make a “discovery”, and the Stalker, a man who finds escape from personal unhappiness, his duty out of a belief that it brings “hope” to his lost, wretched people. Aside from book-ending with a heartbreaking insight to a struggled romance, specifically the masterful climactic monologue from Stalker’s wife, the film concentrates on this trio as it makes its way through The Zone, a lush, green landscape, littered with the burned out husks of automobiles, military tanks, and askew telephone poles no longer in use.

Here Tarkovsky keeps thematic integrity, barely bothering to affect any semblance of a “futuristic” ambiance, giving a gallery of masterful close-ups, no two alike and all stunning in their formal composition and expressiveness, from lightly sepia tones to dark hazy shadows.  He brings light to open-ended philosophical, psychological, and existential ruminations about the nature of art and the essence of the human soul.

Stalker proceeds as an episodic series of starts and stops, obeying the mystical aura of a constantly changing and evolving higher power, its protagonists’ forward momentum through The Zone periodically halted by contentious arguments in which initial assumptions about each character are challenged: the Writer’s quest for inspiration is muddled by moments of nihilistic despair, the Professor’s desire for knowledge is upended by the revelation about his true motives for venturing to The Room, and the Stalker’s conviction that his job is a righteous one—and that others derive anything worthwhile from his expeditions—is somewhat contradicted by his own fearful refusal to enter The Room.

Throughout poetic moments, the film questions human idealistic perceptions of beauty and how we are all just tangled knot of memories, fears, fantasies, nightmares, paradoxical impulses, and a yearning for something that’s simultaneously beyond our reach and yet intrinsic to every one of us. In the end, everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in their existence- the capacity to love.

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. -Andy Warhol

One has to follow some certain steps and guidelines to succeed in business, however it is not always straightforward. It is much about guessing and listening to your gut. One has to think and do extraordinary things to stand out, to grow and win hearts of consumers who nowadays are offered so many choices. To stand out one must apply some truly extraordinary skills and somewhat “crazy” ideas that might be powerful enough to get the business engine running. And therefore it is a must to think outside the box, applying creative thinking to make such art as turning business into money.

Thinking itself is a creative process, especially thinking about problem-solving  and generating new ideas.

An inventor of the lateral thinking term, Edward de Bono suggests that business is  very interested in thinking, more than any other sector of society. “People do not spend enough time deliberately on creative thinking, possibilities and opportunities. ” Instead of  searching for an answer to a problem in existing knowledge, such as information analysis, logic, problem-solving, people involved in business should be resolving it by thinking and creating their own, original, “outside-of-the-box” ways.

According to Bono, as many should agree, “creativity is not just a magic gift”.

To be good in business one has to adapt and apply the skills of creativity, adapt to changes that come with every new project, new client, new technological advancement, new location, new anything. Standard, well known and tested approaches will never work every time. Especially when it comes to people. And business is very much about the people, who earn and spend money, they communicate, observe and make business challenging by just having a choice and being able to choose. Therefore it is crucial to keep developing an “outside of the box” thinking, generating new approaches and strategies.

Great ideas need to be challenged, as solving a problem is not the whole process of solving it, but just a part. This is when creativity comes in.

“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It is a process; it’s not random. Part of what I get people to think about is, we all occasionally have a good idea, but if you’re running a business or a school or university, you don’t want to have the occasional good idea, you want to have them all the time, routinely, and have a system and way of doing it.”

Edward de Bono on creative thinking in business. (2016). Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2016]., (2011). “Being Good In Business is the Most Fascinating Kind of Art” -Andy Warhol. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2016]. 

Fast Company, (2011). Ken Robinson On The Principles Of Creative Leadership. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Feb. 2016]. 

Hands, D. (2009). Vision and values in design management. Lausanne: AVA Academia.

Design Management is a leadership role, one that requires explaining, inspiring, persuading and demonstrating how design can positively contribute to an organisation in many different ways. – Kathryn Best

Design management is a relatively new discipline, but the importance of is now becoming more and more recognised across different business sectors around the globe.

Design managers are there to manage all the processes in relation to design, minding time-frames, values, standards, costs and team-work. They are improving design effectiveness. Simply put, Design Management is a business side of design and design champions are key drivers of change within the organisation.

Design Management is not just managing design processes of different products but also managing ideas. Managing practical  and theoretical issues. It is being responsible for creative and business processes, driving innovation and visions of companies as a their core.

Design managers drive solutions across economic, social, cultural and environmental factors.

Design leadership gives a firm identity and voice of design at senior management or boardroom level, enabling the organisation to plan and drive future growth with design as combustion engine of innovation and inspiration.” It acts like a “corporate glue”.

Design manager oversees the whole process and therefore has to have an in-depth knowledge about all the stages of design processes- starting from a brief, ending with the packaging and transporting the finished product in order to be able to explain it to the team and client.

“Design management is a discipline in continual motion, changing, responding and adapting to the ever-increasing dynamics of social and business transformation. It’s value as a force for change and thinking is growing in prominence, reaching far beyond of realm of industry and commerce, forging a strong presence within public sector institutions and not-for-profit organisations.”

Design Managers might be employed across various roles, such as- art director, design researcher, design strategist, brand manager, creative director, design director etc

For an Experience Design Consultant at IBM, who has studied Design Management Masters in Barcelona, Jan Dimitri “Design Management is better to be called design thinking.” It is incredibly collaborative process where you are going deeper in understanding users needs. Design Management, as a discipline, integrates innovation processes, multidisciplinary decision-making, a human centred mindset and business strategies, to create effective products and services.

Design management is about creative thinking and design thinking. It is understanding the whole process and applying it by creating a solution. It is problem-solving and innovation, pushing the boundaries of the fields. It is being able to navigate the unknown, adapt to environment, relate to audiences and develop relevant solutions.

As design or creative thinking cannot always be straightforward and could be easy for the  “think master” to understand, however this could be not as easy for other parties which might not be as involved in the whole design process.

As good friend of mine, an architecture student in Leeds University once quoted “You have to understand all your concepts so well, that you would be able to explain it to your grandmother.”

Adair, J. (2009). Effective leadership. London: Pan.

Best, K. (2006). Design management. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia., (2016). What is Design Management? – Design Management Institute. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2016].

Entrevista Jan Dimitri | Master Design Management | IED Barcelona. (2016). [image] Available at: [Accessed 12 Feb. 2016].

Hands, D. (2009). Vision and values in design management. Lausanne: AVA Academia.

Good Design.



In the world where there are so many man-made things design is unavoidable. Everywhere you go, everything you see, design is all around and it touches so many things in our lives.

But what makes it good? How can we objectively distinguish good design from bad, and can we at all?

Does design has to be purposeful to be good or can good design be useless too?

Is good design something that happens by an accident? You know, when there is something happening at the right place and time, as some might think, destiny?

Who decides if design is good? Is it professionals who have the right background and knowledge to assess design or is it people, users, who decide by whatever works or does not work for them? Some might agree that it cannot be that straightforward with design. And definition of good design depends of individual definition of “good”.

Some guidelines are offered for evaluation of design from various authors.

For example, here are 10 Principles of Good Design by Dieter Rams:

Design is:

  1. Innovative
  2. Useful
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understandable
  5. Is unobtrusive
  6. Honest
  7. Long- lasting
  8. Thorough down to the last detail
  9. Environmentally friendly
  10. As little design as possible.

In his book (pictured above) Terry Marks suggests that good design needs to tell a story. He also introduces to some common characteristics of good design, such as: concept, content, craft, surprise, suspense, and communicative efficacy.

Could good design be determined to be good by its value? What is the value of design? Is it it’s usefulness, aesthetics or perhaps, price?

Are there any examples of obviously bad design or such design that all could agree is good?

0417a_2For some such environmentally unfriendly, unhealthy lifestyle preaching and consumerist driven piece as McDonald’s fries holder is clearly an example of a bad design.
Or is it? For some this bright, innovative object might be a piece of a good design for such people as McDonald’s brand fans or little kids who would not necessarily understand  or pay attention at the “flaws” of such object, but would appreciate letter “M” skateboarding on this vibrant red plastic object.

My personal hierarchy of good design principles would partly agree with Mark’s. Good design must tell a story and connect with me. It should also be aesthetically pleasing, environmentally friendly, ideally vegan and made out of wood. However, as someone who comes from an art background aesthetics might be more important to me than to other more “rational” people who might put “function” as a first on their list of characteristics of good design.

I believe there can be something like “academically” good design and “personally” good design. Whichever is more right would always be a subject for an argument.