NewslettersMarch 20th, 2019

PG #29: Breaking cycles, creating cycles

Reuben Stanton
Reuben Stanton, Managing Director

As we transition into Autumn here in Melbourne, I’ve been thinking about transitions, cycles and loops.

When we hear about design as ‘disruptive’, we often imagine something that intervenes to break some vicious cycle and set us on a new path. Just looking out the window of the Paper Giant office I can see: cycles of homelessness and poverty, cycles of psychological pressure and stress, business cycles that emphasise profit and growth over sustainability, and (based on the lack of colour in the leaves outside our window) an out-of-control carbon cycle spinning us off into literal oblivion. These are just some of the cycles that need breaking.

But perhaps this language of a ‘new path’ is the wrong one? I’m interested rather in thinking about ‘new cycles’. When we disrupt – when we move from ‘business as usual’ to a ‘new paradigm’ – we are in fact choosing a new business as usual, which will have its own self-reinforcing cycles and loops, whether we plan for them or not.

What are the new cycles that we will create through our design interventions, what can we be more deliberate about? Regenerative agriculture provides one example that the design world could learn from.

I would like us to ask: how can the work we do as designers be not disruptive, but regenerative – for our systems, our communities, for ourselves? We are making changes to the world, and we have a responsibility to be stewards of our future.

Illustration by Wendy Fox. a large tree stump. the line around the tree is a long piece of string being directed by two people

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