Are we living in a social economy, or a precarious one?

Here’s an article co-written for The Globe and Mail via Are we living in a social economy, or a precarious one? – The Globe and Mail. This piece is part of a Globe and Mail/OCAD University summer series highlighting design thinking, issues and innovation.

Nordic countries’ balance of market and state a form of humane capitalism?

A special report from the Economist this week, titled, “Northern Lights,” examines the “quiet revolution” taking place in Nordic nations that has allowed for increased financial sustainability while encouraging innovation, creativity, and high levels of social mobility.

“The Nordic countries are reinventing their model of capitalism, says Adrian Wooldridge”

With Sweden’s public spending dropping by 18% and its debt reduced by 33% since 1993, Denmark’s policy allowing” parents to send children to private schools at public expense,” and Finland’s trend of engaging innovation and entrepreneurship by tapping into its venture capitalists and angel investors, there are some who are concerned that the Nordic countries have swung too far in the fiscally conservative direction. While others feel the move from the far left is the reason this area of the world is thriving.

Are Nordic counties finding a new balanced “Middle Way” between capitalism and socialism? Can this serve as an example of a more humane form of capitalism that the rest of the world can learn from and follow?

Read the full article.

Connecting local designers and manufacturers one beautiful product at a time

Toronto-based lighting designer and Design Common colleague Katharine Tessier’s new project, Manufacturers and Designers Connect (M+Dc), launches its first round of designs representing collaborations between local designers and manufacturers during Toronto’s Design Offsite Festival. Beyond the beauty of the products themselves and the innovative design process behind them, Kate is offering manufacturers the ability to expand their production lines and maximize the capacity of their equipment and facilities. This, while giving designers access to tools, techniques, and manufacturer insight so often out of reach for small batch production runs. This project is at the bleeding edge of the movement back to more localized production and intentional consumption.

Great work, Kate! Learn more about M+Dc and the process behind these designs at

Read the National Post article about Katharine Tessier and Manufacturers and Designers Connect.

Small acts of design

TrickleUp Design likes to think of design as a tool for creating meaningful change in the world – influencing economies, policies and behaviours. But we also see the value of design to delight and enter into one’s life in small, quiet ways. We like finding examples of these “small acts of design” and sharing them on this blog.

A favourite example is found on a quiet street in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto. The Little Free Library is a bird house-like lending library placed at the edge of its homeowners’ property and is open to any passer-by looking to give or take a book. No cash or library card needed. This simple act is a fantastic example of systems design in action. This open source, barter-based activity falls outside of a large, organized system but creates its own small, self-sustaining ecosystem, offering a useful service and delighting its users.