Design and Spirituality

Design and Spirituality : A Philosophy of Material Cultures book cover

Design and Spirituality examines the philosophical context of our current situation and its implications for design. It explores how modernity and our constricted notions of progress have contributed to today’s crisis of values, and argues for a re-establishment and re-affirmation of self-transcending priorities, together with an ethos of moderation and sufficiency.

A wide range of topics are covered, including material culture and spiritual teachings; sustainability and the spiritual perspective; traditional and indigenous knowledge; technology and spirituality; notions of meaningful design; and how particular material things can have deeper, symbolic significance. There are also reflections on areas such as the language of design; busyness and its relationship to wisdom; design and social disparity; and traditional sacred practices. While not avoiding issues that are controversial, and sometimes hard-hitting, Design and Spirituality gets to the heart of the key issues affecting us today and presents them in a highly readable and accessible format.

The author is a leading thinker in the field and he presents his arguments in a manner that invites the reader to reflect and think about where we are going, why we are going there and what really matters.

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. The Nature of Design
  3. Material Things and Spiritual Teachings
  4. Sustainability and Secular Liberalism
  5. Busyness and Wisdom
  6. Heartless
  7. When the Devil Drives
  8. Nipping the Bloom
  9. The Serpentine Walk
  10. Language Speaks
  11. A Complacency of Strangers
  12. Insecticides and Suicides
  13. Transcending Technology
  14. Jericho Road
  15. Design and Spirituality
  16. Lucratively Loveless
  17. Unity, Love and Design
  18. Shallowness and Depth
  19. An Impression of Intentionality
  20. Failings
  21. The Inner Flame
  22. Religion and Atheism
  23. Techno-spirituality
  24. A Higher Purpose
  25. Material Things and Spiritual Goods
  26. Meaningful Design
  27. The Deeper Significance of Things
  28. At the Valley
  29. Traditional Knowledge
  30. The Dobby Stone
  31. Natural Magic
  32. Ex Voto
  33. The Well of Fajã dos Padres
  34. Sacred Smoke
  35. Under the Volcano
  36. An Expression of the Sacred
  37. The Mexelhote and the Molinillo
  38. An Object of my Affection
  39. Memento Mori
  40. Bread of Life
  41. The Conference of the Blind
  42. Something and Nothing
  43. The Faraway Bird
  44. Aesthetic Roots
  45. Wabi Sabi
  46. A Beachfront View
  47. Local
  48. Provenance, Presence and Posterity
  49. Tradition
  50. Nootka Sound
  51. Along the Highway
  52. Clear cut
  53. A Northern Town
  54. Vanity Fair
  55. What is Truth?
  56. The Spiritual Sensibility
  57. A Suitable Metaphor
  58. Higher Goods
  59. Making Special
  60. Truth, Goodness and Beauty
  61. Creating from the Heart
  62. Sine Fide
  63. The Third Exit
  64. Restart or Reform

From my colleague and friend, Stuart Walker, an amazing topic very needed these times.