Imaginary Life

Institute of Advanced Design Studies to launch in Budapest

We are very excited and proud to announce that The Institute of Advanced Design Studies (IADS), a new educational platform set to launch this October in Budapest, Hungary, co-founded by Karina Vissonova, PhD and Róbert Héjja, PhD.

Some of you may remember the article on Karina we published a while back. Well, she has been busy again! Her partner in this new venture, Róbert Héjja, is a well-known financial investor with a strong interest in green investments.

The Institute’s vision is to create a new wave of multidisciplinary design thinkers who will bring new sets of skills to their respective fields for radically increased sustainability. Ethics is at the heart of the venture; an idea that it is time for design to solve global challenges and that technology should be harnessed for the benefit of humanity and the environment.

The Institute’s manifesto is a summary of their values and learning objectives: Radically Sustainable, Deeply Ethical, Practically Resourceful, Respectfully Challenging and Openly Interconnected.

The highly integrated and interdisciplinary nature of the programmes is designed to complement well-established academic courses. The programmes are modular and combine the latest co-creative tools and processes used at leading organisations and consultancies with the Philosophy of Design and Ethics. As an independent, not-for-profit educational platform, all profits will be redirected to creating new educational and research opportunities and scholarships aligned with their values.

A One-Year Postgraduate Course for a select group of peers
Every year, the Institute will select a complementary group of 25 postgraduate students to work intensively together with some of the world’s leading names in sustainability, design, product and service development and technology. These visiting lecturers replace a traditional faculty, allowing students gain access to an immersive learning experience with experts active in their field. Both the tutors and the students explore subjects in depth, with the shared ambition of shaping more comprehensive solutions that consider the potential impact of design manifestations, whether those outcomes are intentional or not.

Students leave the course armed with the latest knowledge on current developments in design, such as Design Thinking, new approaches such as Circular Economy, and how to organise around the continuous change. At the end of the one year course, the students publish their process and findings and are issued a diploma in Advanced Design Studies for Sustainability acknowledging their attendance and accomplishments.

In parallel to the postgraduate programme, the Institute will host extra-curriculum short courses and lectures in collaboration with the Arts Quarter Budapest. These courses also are open to external students.

art quarter pic

Venue and Collaborative Partner: Art Quarter Budapest
The Institute’s activities will be based at Art Quarter Budapest, an international contemporary art centre dedicated to the development of art and new media. Located in the vibrant city of Budapest, it consists of several buildings with indoor and outdoor exhibition space, workshop studios, residencies and common rooms.
The Institute began its collaboration with Art Quarter Budapest in 2018 with a common goal of advancing knowledge in the fields of Art and Design. Our extra-curriculum workshops and short interdisciplinary courses are run in collaboration with Art Quarter.

Launching during Design Week Budapest 2018
The two founders, Karina and Róbert will present their vision at a launch party and 3-day seminar and workshop during Design Week Budapest this October. Between the 10th and 12th October, there will be a series of seminars and workshop activities on biomimicry, where artists, designers and participants from other backgrounds such as ecology, technology, or engineering will work with each other to generate ideas applicable in arts and design inspired by nature.

Bookmark to follow!

Inspiration: Satish Kumar.

Satish Kumar for Sustainable Soil, Soul and Society.

Satish Kumar walked from India to the UK 50 years ago in protest at nuclear weapons.
He is editor of the merged Resurgence and Ecologist magazine – the current issue, on the economy of nature, raises questions on why and how to create an economy that is self-renewing, self-managing and self-sustaining. Well worth a read. He talked to the Guardian about how he I walked 8000 miles for peace, from New Delhi, to Moscow, Paris, London and finally Washington DC, delivering packets of peace tea to political leaders.


radioshenyen: another girl

feb 2011 Birmingham, UK

“There is a fine line between what we like and what affects us. There is a fine line between what we can manipulate and what is close to us. There is a fine line between using technique and making music. We must be open to the spaces (silence) in order to fill them just right. We must see the spaces, inhabit them, live them. Then the next note, the next move, becomes apparent because it is needed. Until it is apparent, nothing should be played. Until it is known, nothing should be anticipated. Until the whole appears, the parts should not be criticised. Until — ”
— (source unknown) (IL: Keith Jarrett, we think)

“Another picture was of two girls with their arms around each other’s shoulders, their heads tilted to the left, gazing at the camera with similar expressions and an incredible assurance, as if they had just set foot on this planet or their suitcases were already packed to leave.”
 Roberto Bolano, ‘2666’

In Colombo a man lies sprawled out along a bus shelter bench, holding his head. beneath a poster of a smiling vibrant female boxer.

A girl steps onto the bus wearing a t-shirt that says ‘another girl’.

A shop selling bird cages and weighing scales, examples of both hanging in the window, each of them empty in their own way.

An 87 year old blind woman becomes president of Egypt. The ghost of a 9 year old girl wanders the Midosuji line singing her grandmother’s favourite enka song.

A traffic accident victim lies dead in the middle of the road covered by a plastic sheet with only his feet sticking out, next to his smashed motorbike which has only one wheel. In the twenty minutes it takes for the police to arrive and sort out the traffic jam that my bus is caught in I watch people get out of cars and off the bus to go forward to have a look. I cannot understand anything they are saying but I know its a death scene. As the bus finally drives past the body the image of the victim lying there with just his feet sticking out of the sheet strikes me very strongly and I start saying vajrasattva mantras for him.

The bus driver is driving like a maniac but I dont mind, wrapped as i am in a cocoon of silence and faith, inside the formlessness of my life’s direction. The bus radio is playing Indian pop, the kind where the male singer sounds like he’s singing in front of a mirror and is profoundly moved by the beauty he’s seeing there, and the female singer sounds like an angel who made it to heaven on the strength of her housework. And then Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ mixed to a techno beat starts and suddenly I realise there’s no such thing as a ‘buddhist country’, there are only buddhist moments: buddhist bus journeys, buddhist convenience store car parks, buddhist playlists.

Outside departure gate 7 an airport worker walks past pushing a cart stacked with a pyramid of different coloured plastic bins. As she passes beneath a structure hanging from the ceiling – a crown of little golden lights – her gaze meets mine and we smile. And I say to myself: all tools, all technologies, are essentially extensions of the body: pencils, shopping bags, aeroplanes, tantric sadhanas. I make no distinctions.

Secrets, when combined with love and selflessness, are the greenhouse of language.

On the plane during take-off, listening to favourite songs, I can still see vividly the image of the road accident victim, and the songs become prayers that the dead man’s universe reappears as a white limousine with 17,000 wheels to make up for the one he lost yesterday, a century ago, just now.

Until next time


Breathing earth

Breathing earth is a website that shows a visual real-time simulation of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, birth rates, and death rates of every country in the world.

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Solar roads

Most roads just sit there, made of petroleum-based asphalt and giving nothing back. The US Department of Transportation granted Idaho-based Solar Roadways $100,000 to develop a prototype of its Solar Road Panel, a section of roadway made of glass and solar cells. The panels are meant to replace typical pavement on roads and parking lots. In addition to generating 7.6 kilowatt hours per day for each 12’ by 12’ panel, the cells can also be illuminated with embedded LEDs for lane markings and warning signals. Each panel costs almost $7,000, but a one-mile section of a four-lane highway could power up to 500 homes. See

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Architecture for a sustainable future

John Thackara, who is director of Doors of Perception, gave a very interesting talk at the Lift 09 Conference, about the role of design in finding solutions to the ecological crisis. After inviting us to avoid terms such as “future” or “sustainable” as they maintain a certain distance to the problem we face, he shows a rich set of projects he participated in.

Liftfrance09: John Thackara from Lift Conference on Vimeo.

Patagonia’s “Get out of jail free” card

Patagonia’s Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card
You’ve probably already heard some of the great green gossip about Patagonia: that their fleece is made from recycled soda bottles rather than crude oil, that the company has given more than $20 million dollars to grassroots environmental groups, or that they converted their entire sportswear line to organically grown cotton.

But the real shocker in Patagonia’s long list of above and beyond eco-accomplishments is its policy of offering free environmental activism training to all employees, and its promise to post bail for any program graduates whose peaceful protest ends in arrest.

Patagonia first implemented the policy in the mid ’90s when three of their employees were arrested while attempting to save Northern Californian redwoods from logging. The company now offers all interested staff a civil disobedience training program taught by Ruckus Society, a nonprofit dedicated to providing environmental, human rights and social justice organizers with the tools, training and support to achieve their goals. Ruckus schools Patagonia employees in tactics for keeping the peace in the face of conflict, and offers a clear perspective on both the risks and rewards of activism. “It helps them make choices that are in alignment with what they want to participate in and what they believe,” said Lu Setnicka, Patagonia’s Director of Training and Employee Development, a recent Ruckus graduate herself.

While no jailbirds have been freed as of late, Patagonia employees completed a Ruckus training seminar a few months ago in Ventura. The company audaciously affirms: “It may sound as if we are training and subsidizing a bunch of tree huggers, hellraisers and brassbound ecologists. We are.”
—Jolia Sidona Einstein at Wholelifetimes

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań opened this morning. The Conference is a milestone on the road to success for the processes which were launched under the Bali Road Map.The meeting comes midway between COP 13 in Bali, which saw the launch of negotiations on strengthened international action on climate change, and COP 15 Copenhagen, at which the negotiations are set to conclude.
For the duration of the conference, all official meetings and press conferences will be available live and on demand, with English or floor audio streams. On-demand files will be available shortly after the close of each meeting.
A selection of side-events will be available on demand in floor languages.
View Live webcast


The colour of money is not green

Global natural resources crisis is worse than the financial crunch: If we are to consume resources at the rate of America, we need three planets. Humans using 30% more resources than sustainable, reports the Guardian today.

The world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch” far worse than the current financial crisis because humans are over-using the natural resources of the planet, the international study warns today.

The Living Planet report calculates that humans are using 30% more resources than the Earth can replenish each year, which is leading to deforestation, degraded soils, polluted air and water, and dramatic declines in numbers of fish and other species. As a result, we are running up an ecological debt of $4tr (£2.5tr) to $4.5tr every year – double the estimated losses made by the world’s financial institutions as a result of the credit crisis – say the report’s authors, led by the conservation group WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund.

The figure is based on a UN report which calculated the economic value of services provided by ecosystems destroyed annually, such as diminished rainfall for crops or reduced flood protection.

The problem is also getting worse as populations and consumption keep growing faster than technology finds new ways of expanding what can be produced from the natural world. This had led the report to predict that by 2030, if nothing changes, mankind would need two planets to sustain its lifestyle. “The recent downturn in the global economy is a stark reminder of the consequences of living beyond our means,” says James Leape, WWF International’s director general. “But the possibility of financial recession pales in comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch.”