Monday, 2 March 2009

A Weapon of Massive Consumption

Offering a really interesting soundtrack to the current state of over-consumption, Lily Allen's latest single "The Fear" is more than just a simple pop song. "And I am a weapon of massive consumption. And it's not my fault, it's how I'm programmed to function."

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Good Consumer

Neil Boorman offers a new perspective on the Consumer.
"Regardless what the government, the Economists and the Brands say - it is our absolute right to save raher than spend money. We funded the boom, we funded the bank bailout, now we're expected to fund the recovery. But we cannot shop our way out of the long term problem: over-consumption to almost all global challenges. As nice as our luxury lifestyles are, we cannot run away from the problem for much longer."

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Get London Reading

Last year, in a bid to encourage Londoners to spend more time reading, London based design agency Kent Lyons produced a great stencil campaign across the UK capital to announce the launch of Get London Reading.

More pictures on Flickr.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

How do you feel today?

Offering a beautifully crafted insight into the current state of human emotions, We Feel Fine, an exploration of human emotion, is a web based project by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar. Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. "Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved."

How do you feel today?

The Global Oneness Project

Through the evolving power of social media and the internet, The Global Oneness Project is an inspiring web-based video initiative exploring how the "notion of oneness" can be lived in our increasingly complex world.

The films and interviews document an array of social initiatives from across the planet - in the fields of sustainability, conflict resolution, spirituality, art, economics, indigenous culture, and social justice. The library of films is available for free from the website or on DVD for educational use.

(Image from: People's Grocery)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


"Emotions can be overwhelming. But not always so." Emotionally}Vague is a research project by Graphic Designer Orlagh O'Brien about the body and emotion asking; how do people feel anger, joy, fear, sadness and love? A really interesting project, with some wonderful visual results.

Monday, 16 February 2009

I shop, therefore I am

Born in 1945, Barbara Kruger is an American conceptual artist/designer. After attending Syracuse University and Parson’s School of Design in New York, Kruger obtained a design job at Condé Nast Publications. Working for Mademoiselle Magazine, she was quickly promoted to head designer and later worked as a graphic designer, art director, and picture editor in the art departments at other publications.

Layering found photographs from existing sources, with pithy and aggressive text Kruger's work involves the viewer in the struggle for power and control that her captions speak of. In a trademark style of black letters against a red background, some of her instantly recognisable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” "Buy me I'll Change Your Life" and “Your body is a battleground." Much of her text questions the viewer about feminism, classicism, consumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, although her black-and-white images are culled from the mainstream magazines that sell the very ideas she is disputing.

Can You Buy Happiness?

If happiness could be bought, it would probably come in the shape of a $60, 000 toilet from the Japan. Or Australian coffee beans, which need to go through the digestive tract of an Asian Palm Civet before hitting your espresso cup, modestly priced at $600 a lb. Or perhaps a tiny bar of soap containing silver nanoparticles for a mere $125.

Journalist and Author Benjamin Wallace shares his experience of the world’s most expensive products. But did they make him happy? Find out in his TED Talk Does happiness have a price tag?",

Edible Estates, by Fritz Haeg

If you are yet to come across visionary designer Fritz Haeg you are in for a treat! Not only does Haeg run his own architecture and design practice, but he is also involved in an array of projects combining building, designing, gardening, exhibiting, dancing, organizing and talking.

We are particularly inspired by Haeg's ecology based art & design projects 'Edible Estates', where he turns the otherwise sterile suburban front lawn into glorious edible gardens, and parking garages into community businesses. You can read more about Haeg and his Edible Estates on his website.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

For the Public, by the Public

In a bid to engage with local community shop owners and allow them to voice their opinions on their environment, 'For the Public by the Public' was a social design project undertaken by UK graphic designer Chris Clarke.

Chris plunged himself into the community heart of Bristol, setting out to uncover a new communication catalyst that would enable a community of local shop owners to voice and share their cultural experiences. After asking them to write down messages about their local area, Chris sourced local sign writers to convert these messages into shop signs. The responses (signs) were then placed on discarded shops, and under the project title “For the Public by the Public”, collated into a book and exhibited at Bristol’s Conway and Young ‘Open’ gallery (a previously discarded shop). “The exhibition gave voice to a collection of memories offered by the community, sharing with the public a history of its otherwise invisible environment.”

Explaining the reasoning for engaging so closely with local voices, Chris notes; “The UK is saturated with regeneration schemes. […] But, so often [they] ignore the strengths and ideas already present in the communities they are actually renovating.”

We are lucky to have Chris on board designing the Affluenza Exhibition print materials. To have a peak at his work, go to

Stone Walls

Beautifully raw, here is a sneak preview of the Affluenza Exhibition building! :)

Unemployment Rises to 1.97m

Earlier this week, on Wednesday 11th February, Psychologist and Affluenza Author Oliver James, appeared on BBC Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman. Alongside fellow guests Tony McNulty, Theresa May MP, Franc Roddam, Tina Owen and Anastasia de Waal, Oliver discusses unemployment, on the day it emerged that figures from October to December rose to 1.97 million.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Have you ever thought of the merits of quitting?

Apparently, “winners do quit all the time, they just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

Gregory Miller, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, has helped write a number of studies on quitting. His studies have found that, in many cases, moving from a difficult goal to another, more attainable one can create a greater sense of well-being, both mentally and physically.

The article is not suggesting well-being at the cost of abandoning our utmost dreams and desires, but rather making sure pursuing those doesn’t leave us frustrated and doesn't take over all other areas of our lives. If that is the case, chances are, we’ve gone for the wrong dream.

Read the full article at the New York Times.

The Virus and Depression

Early in 2008, speaking on Sky Arts' Book Show, Oliver James describes the 'Affluenza' virus, the notions of 'Selfish Capitalism' and 'Short-Termism' and offers his understanding as to how these factors have influenced the rising rates of depression and other mental illnesses.

The Joy of Not Being Sold Anything!

A note from Bansky.


FLOWmarket is a design lab that explores what will be the short commodities of the future. Among the goods on the shelves of FLOWmarket are inner calmness, pauses, stress killers, clean air and choice takers. The goal is a holistic view of growth, embracing economics and technology as well as social and spiritual aspects.

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Happiest Book in the World

In March 2008 Graphic Designer Alex Ostrowski made the decision to "visit happiness", and (much like Oliver James! 5m/15s) embarked upon a pilgrimage to Denmark to find it. On his return he presented his experience in to "The Happiest Book in the World".

"In one way or another we are all looking for happiness. Some people even say that man's sole purpose for existence is to hunt down and capture this intangible and elusive treasure. In 2006 researchers at The University of Leicester concluded that Denmark is the happiest country in the world - this was good enough for me."

On Tuesday 24th March, during The Affluenza Exhibition, Alex will be showing his work, and in conversation with a selection of others, partake in a discussion entitled "Happy Design for the Future".

Friday, 6 February 2009

Barbara Taylor, On Kindness

On Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 1pm, the RSA's Rachel O’Brien will chair "On Kindness", a talk with historian Barbara Taylor.

"The pleasures of kindness have been well known since the dawn of Western thought. Kindness, said Marcus Aurelius, was mankind's 'greatest delight' - and centuries of thinkers and writers have echoed him. But today, kindness seems to have gone out of fashion. In the age of free-market capitalism and the selfish gene, kindness is all too often regarded narcissism or weakness. Have we, as a species, become deeply and fundamentally antagonistic to each other, with motives that are generally self-seeking?"

In her new book, On Kindness (co-authored with psychologist Adam Phillips), historian Barbara Taylor calls for a re-discovery of the pleasures of kindness, and argues that what the Victorians called 'open-heartedness' and the Christians 'caritas' remains essential to our emotional and mental well-being.

For more information and to book a ticket, visit

Friday, 23 January 2009

Bring it on Mr President!

No, not that President. There is absolutely no doubt that Barack Obama is the most popular President on the globe, not to mention the best looking.

This however, is about his European counterpart, European Commission President Juan Barosso and his efforts to boost social innovation - the design and implementation of creative ways of meeting social needs. "The financial and economic crisis makes creativity and innovation in general and social innovation in particular even more important to foster sustainable growth, secure jobs and boost competitiveness”, said President Barroso.

Social innovation covers a wide range of new models, from childcare to web-based social networks, and from the delivery of healthcare at home to new ways of encouraging people to use sustainable means of transport. Would that mean policy makers and creative people working side by side to create a better future? We certainly hope so.

Read the full article.

Good Magazine's Five Anti-Consumption Heroes

The Amish, who travel by horse-drawn buggy, sew their own clothes on foot-powered machines, and cook on wood-fired stoves.

No Impact Man, the 44-year-old writer Colin Beavan, who is attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. Which means no trash, no cars, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV. And no toilets…

The Church of Stop Shopping who march and sing about “stop shopping” till they drop.

The Compact
, a network of over 9,000 people who have accepted the challenge to not buy anything new for one year, except for medicine and knickers.

The Freegans, who are “people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources”. More often than not, that means dumpster diving-salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters.

Read the full article.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Back Away From The Product

We are very aware that although we haven't had any content on this blog so far, we somehow managed to attract three blog followers. That gives us a lot of confidence in two things: one, people are genuinely interested in the Affluenza project, and two, people like to follow. Well, here is someone good for you to follow:

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir believe that Consumerism is overwhelming our lives. They urge us to back away from the product, back away from the shopping trolley. They are on a mission to “put the odd back into God” but also have some tangible objectives:

“The supermodels fly away and we're left with our original sensuality. So we are singing and preaching for local economies and real – not mediated through products – experience. We like independent shops where you know the person behind the counter or at least –you like them enough to share a story.”

The Church of Stop Shopping is project of The Immediate Life, a New York based arts organization using theater, humor, and grassroots organizing to advance individuals and communities towards a more equitable future.

Here’s one of the performances of the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, titled “Back away from the Wallmart”. And a personal favourite: