Summary of In the Bubble

Designing In A Complex World

MIT Press, more...

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In the Bubble book summary
How good design can change the world for the better.


8 Overall

6 Applicability

7 Innovation

9 Style


John Thackara calls himself a “symposiarch,” someone who puts together groups of creative people, assigns them a lofty theme and then observes the colloquy. This book is a little like a classical Greek symposium. It’s a loosely structured conversation with many voices, a freestyle rush into 10 clusters of ideas on how designers – architects, industrial designers, artists, engineers, urban planners and others – should be thinking about today’s big design issues, including sustainability, needless complexity, and the frenetic pace of the social and business worlds. Does Thackara have answers? Not really. His flamboyantly expressed suggestions would probably collapse if examined carefully. But, surprisingly, the book is no weaker for that. It is not a design manual or manifesto. Rather, getAbstract finds that it’s a work designed to get you to free-associate and open your mind to new possibilities. If your creativity is cooling, this book may do what Kafka suggested all literary creations should do: break up the frozen sea inside you.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why people are the most important element in every design;
  • What major design issues face designers and society today; and
  • How to address those issues.


To Design Is Human
“Everyone designs,” wrote polymath Herb Simon, “who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations, into preferred ones.” Rather than being confined to an elite few, the tendency to design is in every human being. People are born makers, after all. But...
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About the Author

John Thackara is the director of a design futures network based in Amsterdam and Bangalore.

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