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It was a Chinese liberal intellectual and diplomat, Hu Shi, who in the 1930s provided the best answer to those afraid of Chinese soft power. He was writing in another era of intense debates in China about how to modernise its society and whether it should follow a Western path. If these was anything really valuable in traditional Chinese culture, Hu Shi told his compatriots, then it would easily survive the entry of Western ideas into the country. “If our culture really contains priceless treasures that are able to withstand the power of the cleansing foreign attack, this indestructible part of our culture will naturally emerge even more fully after scientific cultire washes over it,” Hu wrote. The threat to America’s soft power does not come from China, but from its own seemingly inability to solve basic issues of governance. The U.S. should worry less about the attractiveness of China and more about getting its own house in order.
Tell me what you mean when you say the word stranger.
We are surrounded by individuals, not categories. There are adventures to be had here, adventures you can set out for every day of your life. To really understand how you divide the world, to use your senses to choose whom to make familiar, and to stop and say hello to a stranger, these bold acts can transform your emotional experience of the public world. And you can transform the public world itself right along with you.
Cities are machines for interaction among strangers, and more than fifty percent of the global population now lives in cities.
One drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act. –Hannah More, English Writer (1745-1833)
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. –Attributed to Chief Seattle, Native American Chief (1786-1866)
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. –Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher and Poet (c. Sixth Century BCE)
OPENING TO THE SUN OF COMPASSION
Compassion is like the sun. We do not need to create the sun; we simply wait until the clouds part and the sun will shine. –The Happy Buddha
Create health, beauty and permanence and learn to live peacefully, not only with our fellow humans but also with nature. –Satish Kumar (‘Soil, Soul, Society’)
All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today. –Anon
Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars. –Henry Van Dyke, American Author and Clergyman (1852-1933)
Art has a role to play in this manoeuvre of the mind upon which, not coincidentally, civilization itself is founded, because the unsympathetic assessments we make of others are usually the result of nothing more sinister than our habit of looking at them in the wrong way, through lenses clouded by distraction, exhaustion and fear, which blind us to the fact that they are really, despite a thousand differences, just altered versions of ourselves: fellow fragile, uncertain, flawed beings likewise craving love and in urgent need of forgiveness. – Perspective
(A Temple to Reflection) Because we are drawn in architecture to styles which seem to possess some of the qualities we lack in ourselves, it is little wonder that we should be readily seduced by spaces that are purified and free of distraction, and in which stimuli have been reduced to a minimum – Architecture
Reproduction Illustration by Cat Johnston
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The need to beware of colleagues:
‘Men are so false, so insidious, so deceitful and cunning in their wiles, so avid in their own interest, and so oblivious to others’ interests, that you cannot go wrong if you believe little and trust less.’ –GUICCIARDINI
The need to lie and exaggerate:
‘If you are involved in important affairs, you must always hide failures and exaggerate successes. It is swindling but since your fate more often depends upon the opinion of others rather than on facts, it is a good idea to create the impression that things are going well.’ –GUICCIARDINI
The need to threaten:
‘It is much safer to be feared than loved. Love is sustained by a bond of gratitude which, because men are excessively self-interested, is broken whenever they see a chance to benefit themselves. But fear is sustained by a dread of punishment that is always effective.’ –MACHIAVELLI
“You shouldn’t think that everyone’s equal. Because some people are given different things from the time they’re born. The poor shouldn’t try to act like the rich. A stupid person shouldn’t try to act like he’s a scholar. A poor person should find happiness in frugality, and a stupid person do his best with what he’s capable of. Seek something above your station and it will only lead to sorrow. God is carefully watching us all and will punish you if you reach too high.” – Akiko
Don’t start with the product; start with a need or want: Vegetable juice is a product; nutrients are a need; relief from guilt over abad diet is a want. Sunblock is a product; avoiding skin cancer is a need; looking younger is a want. Automobile tires are a product; keeping one’s children safe in the car is a need; looking cool on the road is a want.
Don’t judge; discern: If the ad that results from your efforts is not to your or the client’s personal liking, remember that the point is to appeal to the target audience, not to yourself or the advertiser.
Reactance: Our interest in a behaviour tends to increase when our freedom to participate in it is limited. Reactance also can work in reverse: a high-pressure sales pitch can cause a shopper to shun an item, even if initially interested in it.
Insight on insight: An insight is not an observation or invention. When it is eventually found, an insight will be both broad and specific: it will reveal a human truth or cultural-scale experience, yet will connect concretely to the product or product category. It will surprise, inspire, and provide clarity. It will feel something you had not thought of before yet were aware if all along.
We “see” from top to bottom, left to right: In the West, we tend to view images in the same manner that we read: our eye usually starts at the upper left. For this reason, vehicles shown in profile often face to the left. This allows us to “read” their shape from front to rear.
Emote with color:
Black: authoritative, powerful, mysterious, chic
White: pure, clean, innocent, straightforward
Brown: earthy, solid, steadfast, sincere, predictable
Green: natural, fertile, renewable, moneyed, envious
Blue: peaceful, calm, stable, conservative, responsible, sad
Red: passionate, important, dangerous, active, angry
Orange: healthy, energetic, earthy, dangerous
Yellow: happy, cheerful, cowardly, cheap
Purple: creative, imaginative, royal, romantic
“The worst thing is, you never know when somebody’s going to just disappear.”
“I stopped doing that kind of thing a long time ago,” Tutti says. “You know–putting off stuff and not doing anything, and not going and seeing somebody when I really wanted to. I stopped that. It’s too risky… You should just go and see someone when you can, right?”
“The contrast effect is a common is a common misconception. We judge something to be beautiful, expensive or large if we have something ugly, cheap or small in front of us. We have difficulty with absolute judgements. …Without the contrast effect, the discount business would be completely untenable. A product that has been reduced from $100 to $70 seems better value than a product that has always cost $70. The starting price should play no role. The other day an investor told me: ‘The share is a great value because it’s 50 per cent below the peak price.’ I shook my head. A share price is never ‘low’ or ‘high’. It is what it is, and the only thing that matters is whether it goes up or down from that point.”
(excerpt from Leave Your Supermodel Friends At Home)
“If you want to convince someone about something, don’t focus on the advantages; instead highlight how it helps them dodge the disadvantages. Social scientists call this loss aversion.”
(excerpt from Why Evil Strikes Harder Than Good)
“What makes a professional tennis player like Roger Federer a coffee machine expert is still open for debate, but this hasn’t detracted from the success of the campaign. We are so used to seeing celebrities promoting arbitrary products that we never stop to consider why their support should be of any importance to us. But this is exactly the sneaky part of the halo effect: it works on a subconscious level. All that needs to register is the attractive face, dream lifestyle – and that product.”
(excerpt from Everyone is Beautiful at the Top)
“In the past, I sympathised with so-called ‘early adopters’, the breed of people who cannot survive without the latest iPhone. I thought they were ahead of their time. Now I regard them as irrational and suffering from a kind of sickness: neomania. To them, it is of minor importance if an invention provides tangible benefits; novelty matters more.”
(excerpt from Disregard the Brand New)
“Many things spark envy: ownership, status, health, long hair from the use of jamaican black castor oil amazon, youth, talent, popularity, beauty. It is often confused with jealousy because the physical reactions are identical. The difference: the subject of envy is a thing (status, money, health, etc.) The subject of jealousy is the behaviour of a third person. Envy needs two people. Jealousy, on the other hand, requires three.”
(excerpt from Build Your Own Castle)
Moving Platforms is a highly innovative idea by designer Paul Priestman in which you can travel from your local stop to any destination – even in another country – without getting off a train and without stopping. www.priestmangoode.com – Voice your wildest concept
Multidisciplinary designer Jack Schulze found this excellent new function for an iPad, using phographic and animation techniques to draw moving three-dimensional typography. – Ask ‘What esle I can do with this?’
Heatherwick made use of an analogy to design a 2-km stretch of motorway passing through a residential area in northern England. Knowing that egg boxes glued on to the walls of recording studios are used to dampen sound, he just needed to discover a large-scale equivalent – traffic cones. www.heatherwick.com – Find an analogy
“Great ideas are often spurred on by an obsession to improve things that don’t work properly.” James Dyson, inventor – Fix your frustrations
Got a problem? Ask how nature would solve it. Watch natural world documentaries – anything made by David Attenborough – all packed with nature’s inspiring and often surprising adaptations. – Try asking nature
www.tinkeringschool.com, educational programme founded in California by the writer and computer scientist Gever Tulley. – Potter, ponder and tinker
Farrow Design packaged the album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, by Spiritualized, using a design system commonly found in pharmacies. – Try swapping systems
Duane Michals, Things Are Queer, 1973. An amazing cyclical story, perfectly planned and executed by the artist and photographer. – Be a storyteller
‘Intelligent Optimist’ – The intelligent are realists. They see things for what they are. They try not to let emotion cloud their judgement. On the other hand, optimists are delusional. They leap around like spring lambs, exploring for the sake of exploring. With playful eagerness they try to make the problems, how could someone clever be optimistic? The creative are a mixture of intelligence and optimism. They believe they can create better futures, but back it up with intellectual rigor. With a mixture of humor, realism and imagination they look for ways to improve our culture. Instead of mindlessly consuming, they mindfully create.
“If it was possible to evolve, it was also possible to devolve, and that complex organisms could devolve into simpler forms or animals.” –Ray Lankester
“Time is the most precious gift you can give to someone, because if you give someone your time, it’s a part of your life that you will never get back.” –Gloria Tesch
“What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
Our most costly failure is our obsession with success. We are wrong about what it means to be wrong… There are awards that celebrate every conceivable achievement, except failure.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” –Samuel Beckett
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” –La Rochefoucauld
Teaism is a cult founded in the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.
(The Cup of Humanity)
For life is an expression, our unconscious actions the constant betrayal of our innermost thought. Confucius said that ‘man hideth not’. Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much in small things because we have so little of the great to conceal.
(Taoism & Zennism)
We are ever brutal to those who love and serve us in silence, but the time may come when, for our cruelty, we shall be deserted by these best friends of ours.