On the iconic BBC radio show Desert Island Discs guests are asked for one book they would take with them if cast away on an island. And anyone choosing Designing Regenerative Cultures by Daniel Christian Wahl would return home, with it, and them, changed forever.
Because just as Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ continues to deepen peoples understanding of our complex universe, Wahl’s book shows lives can be lived in ways that also create solutions to some of the world’s biggest existential challenges,
And I am delighted the multi-award winning author was able to join me on the Inside Ideas podcast, so we could delve more into a book – so far translated into eight languages, that is defining the field of regenerative design.
“The western mind likes to think in terms of the Kantian dialectic of thesis, antithesis,” Wahl tells me. “Like, to bring in something new, it has to be the opposite of the old. It’s a bit like the paradigm shift and so on. It sets us up tragically when we bring in something new to not learn from the past, and throw the baby out with the bath water.”
In Designing Regenerative Cultures, now a core text in university programmes, Wahl runs a holistic thread through nature and humanity to show where subjects like quantum theory, biomimicry, systems theory and the circular economy are creating experiences of life on this planet that are symbiotic with nature.
“We need to re-envision how we collaborate and how we relate to each other and the natural world,” said Wahl, a trained biologist, with a PhD in Design on Design for Human and Planetary Health.
“Once we understand that life is a planetary process, that we’re not individuals, that there are more non-human cells in us and on us than human cells, that we are literally walking ecosystems, that life and even matter shows up in relationship and through participation of consciousness, it just fundamentally shifts the nature of reality.”
His ideas are hitting home with a growing reGeneration of global citizens – and Wahl, winner of the 2021 RSA Bicentenary Medal for applying design in service to society, is a big reason for the shift to this holistic worldview. Find out why on the podcast.