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Let's design our way out

Cathrine Gunasekara

Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde and his team have done some interesting projects around visualizing urban and environmental challenges so they are easier to grasp.
I just read this interview with him in Designboom and what he’s saying really resonated with me.

So many global challenges we are facing are for me a sign of bad design. We design our world unconsciously — with our CO2 emission and waste — so let us design our way out of it.
— Daan Roosegaarde

Since my stay at the monastery in Thailand practicing mindfulness, I’m now more and more aware of how much we do without really thinking about cause and effect. When we build products, services and cities without thinking about the long-term effect, worst-case it could be harming, but it’s also a lost opportunity to create something that is consciously designed for a positive effect on people and the environment. We can’t let ourselves be passive or paralyzed because the problem seems too big to solve. We have to take control and mindfully design the future we want, one small project at a time.

Why do we accept pollution?
— Daan Roosegaarde

… Which leads me to the next article I wanted to share from my newsfeed.

It’s an NPR article about a Swedish owned design lab in Portland called BillerudKorsnäs who’s focusing on developing alternative packaging materials to plastic. Read the article here.
I love to read about people who actually come up with alternatives!


Cathrine Gunasekara

The most appealing thing about Airbnb to me is the chance to stay in a truly unique home, however I think they’re making it unnecessarily hard to find such a home.

Under “More Filters” there’s an option to filter specifically for many types of unique homes, but for my purpose I wish there was an option to “Select All” or just toggle a preference for “Unique Homes”.


  • Chances are that if I’d be interested in staying in a cave, I’d also be the type of person interested in staying in a treehouse or a castle.

  • If I look for just cave homes, it’s not likely to return any result in most places

  • I have no idea what types of unique homes I can expect to find in a location

  • It’s a pain to check off every single box to set my filter to find something interesting

Airbnb unique homes filter

Other approaches:

  • Set a high level preference in my Settings by selecting a travel persona or areas that are important to me, like Safety, Good Wi-Fi, Near Public Transport, Good for Work, Good for Families etc.

  • Ask me if I want to save it as a preference if I check the same box many searches in a row.

  • Add “For Adventurers” to the Trip Type list.

This way you don’t have to check off a million boxes every time you do a search.

Airbnb trip type.png

A sense of community, even amongst strangers in New York City

Cathrine Gunasekara

A friend of mine shared this article with me:

Every Thursday, Liz Gannon-Graydon is hosting a tea party in Bryant Park with proper china tea cups, table cloth and home baked goods. And anyone are welcome to join!

I haven’t joined her tea party myself, but I think this is such a beautiful initiative. When you walk around in a big city, you’re in close contact with thousands of other people on the street and subway, but there’s no actual connection. I love that she is creating an opportunity to hit the pause button and take a moment to sit down and actually connect with the people around you, hear their stories and enjoy a beautiful moment together. Urban mindfulness in practice.

It doesn’t take a lot to make a positive difference in people’s lives, yet, so few of us even try. So 🙌to her and those who sit down to join her.

That’s your job. You’re here to create beloved community.

BEIJING | June 19-20

Cathrine Gunasekara