Creative Design City Nagoya 2009

From Now On:Envisioning Nagoya’s Future on the Large Scale and the Small
International Design Forum
Keynote Address
“Towards a Synergy-of-Synergies”

Professor of Design, Goldsmiths, University of London

One explanation for the current ecological crisis is that an abundance of cheap energy encouraged us to reduce diversity in our lives. For example, instead of delivering wellbeing at the social and environmental level, the Fordist factory system delivered a narrow mode of ‘efficiency’ at arbitrary points in the transactional cycle. We are now accustomed to live in cities that were designed for high-speed mobility, rather than for effectiveness at all levels. This means that we see no need for local diversities. Our lives continue to spread across a larger and larger radius, even though the era of cheap energy is almost over. A better way to design cities will be to cultivate synergies on as many levels as possible. Synergy is grossly underestimated because, unlike any other ‘sustainability’ approach, it delivers more benefits than are intrinsic to the resources that created the synergies. This approach is more complex than any existing approach and, therefore, requires a new methodology of practice. We have evolved over 90 tools that are intended to cultivate synergies. We call this ‘metadesign’. Where design is a predictive method for managing desires and intentions, metadesign is a more adaptive co-design process that ‘seeds’ possibilities as a way to create, and to manage, opportunities. Ultimately, finding synergies is an entrepreneurial process. However, it cannot work unless there is diversity. We therefore need a diversity-of-diversities that can lead to an ultimate ‘synergy-of-synergies’. This would permeate all boundaries that unify, and transcend, the familiar levels of reality - economic, ecological, cultural, linguistic and technological, etc..