#7 Design for life: innovation & imagination

Your pathway might focus on imagining, inventing, designing, promoting and investing in sustainable products and services, mainstreaming a more regenerative economy.

urban farming pavilion
The Growroom by SPACE10, an urban farming pavilion that looks into how cities can feed themselves through food-producing architecture

Some parts of the Cultural sector have contributed to harmful, extractive economic growth, whether in active ways such as designing fast fashion, or encouraging flight-based tourism, or more passive ways such as failing to criticise the status quo or to offer alternatives to it. Now there are many opportunities for cultural practitioners and organisations to steer a shift from harmful growth to healing abundance.

Digital tools and data

  • Could you explore the potential of digital technology for new ecologically beneficial forms of culture?
  • Smart tech can provide better data feedback about ecological footprints, community needs and ecosystem changes, and can involve communities as citizen scientists.
  • What if an artwork could capture data that increases the generation of energy, nutritious food or biodiversity, which in turn provides value for a local community?
  • Could you promote a ‘knowledge commons’ by opening up access to expertise, data and ideas so that local people can collaborate to solve problems and carry out regenerative projects?

Reframing audiences

  • Can you reframe audiences so that instead of seeing them as audiences or consumers, you see them as inhabitants of bioregions who need you to enhance the health of their environment. What are you offering that is relevant to their needs? For example, can you design digital services or workspaces for green entrepreneurs and activists?
  • Can you work with young people to be eco-innovators? Can you create experiences where it’s acceptable to be ‘positively deviant’, to dream and build resilient careers and movements?

Building networks and capacity

  • Can you map all of the local practitioners of eco and social innovation such as microsolidarity, rewilding, circular forms of production, and urban food growing? What can you offer them and what you gain in return?
  • What are the most beneficial ways you can generate revenue and sponsorship? Could your shop or cafe be a model for the Circular Economy, for example using your waste products to generate new products? Can you use any outdoor space to grow plants that can generate things such as packaging, food, cleaning products or wellbeing items?

Inspiration and Resources

The Eden Project

The Eden Project is generating geothermal energy to sell to local businesses. This builds on more than two decades of creating employment and produce that is educational and ecologically beneficial for Cornwall and other places they partner with.


Eco-museums can be found all over the world. They are community-led museums that aim to sustain and promote particular landscapes and the heritage associated with them, and they sustain themselves by selling crafts, workshops, tours and other things that benefit the place they care about.

Fab City

Fab City aims to build a more sustainable and inhabitable new world – collectively – through opening public digital fabrication makerspaces in the hearts of cities, towns and villages. The idea is to be able to provide citizens with all the resources they need without compromising the planet’s ecosystems.


For 30 years, Bioneers has acted as a fertile hub of game-changing social and scientific innovators with breakthrough solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.

Centre for Alternative Technology

Offering practical solutions and hands-on learning to help create a zero carbon world.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Promoting and nurturing the Circular Economy.

Design for Planet

An initiative of the Design Council, including an annual festival.

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Pathways to action

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