Organic and bio-based solar cells to the rescue.

Promises about harnessing the energy from the sun can be traced back over the last 150 years—all the way back to 1839 to be precise. And in 1884, American inventor Charles Fritts installed the first solar panels on a rooftop in New York City.

Image © A brief history of solar panels, Smithsonian magazine, 2019

Today, Australia leads the world on solar per capita but… the problem of solar panel disposal “will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment”.

Silicon-based solar panels produce a “huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle.” (Forbes, 2018).


  1. Tokyo 37.39 million residents
  2. Delhi 30.29 million residents
  3. Shanghai 27.05 million residents
  4. São Paulo 22.04 million residents
  5. Ciudad de México (Mexico City) 21.78 million residents
  6. Dhaka 21 million residents
  7. Al-Qahirah (Cairo) 20.9 million residents
  8. Beijing 20.46 million residents
  9. Mumbai (Bombay) 20.41 million residents
  10. Kinki M.M.A. (Osaka) 19.16 million residents

“The megacity is a reality, and it looks a lot like the cold, bleak vision of science-fiction films. Gigacities, are soon to be”, says Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl in The Human Scale (2012).

Concept image for the smart-city proposal of Neom, Saudi Arabia—a portmanteau of the Greek word for ‘new’ and the Arabic word for ‘future’ (Gulf Insider, 2019).

The year is 2020 and there are now 34 megacities in the world—metropoleis of…


It’s nearly 2020, and we must admit that our collective reality looks nothing like what it used to back in 2010.

Siri and Alexa. 4K screen resolution. IBM’s Watson. Boston Dynamics’ Atlas. Tesla’s Cybertruck. 4D printing. 5G technology. Same-sex marriage. The #metoo movement. Greta Thunberg. Jacinda Ardern. CRISPR/Cas9. The Higgs boson. The high probability of life on Mars… The 1%. The 0.01%. The refugee crisis. The climate crisis. The biodiversity crisis. Populist politics and their consequences. Minorities, People of Colour and First Nations’ rights still being blatantly violated throughout the world.

All of these are markers of the 2010s but…


Service Design—the design of services—is a funny beast. Deeply rooted in the 60s’ democratic and inclusive Scandinavian cooperative design movement, its name actually comes from the corporate sector where it was first described using a particle physics analogy.

“(Service Design) suggests that behavioural hypothesis, which rearranges or alters any element, by design or accident, will change the overall entity, just like changing bonds or atoms in a molecule creates a new substance.” (G. Lynn Shostack, 1982).

What Service Design is or isn’t is not the purpose of this article. To each designer, their practice, and the work usually speaks for…


*October 2020 update: thanks for the thousands of reads! This article is a cathartic critique of the tool-kit approach to designing from my days in industry. For those of you coming here to read about decentering the human from the design process and advocacy for futures in which both people and nature thrive, I wrote about these topics in Speculations on the future of Design and Speculative BioCities.

Pentagram partner and award-winning designer Natasha Jen created quite a stir when she confidently announced to the world in June 2017 that ‘Design Thinking was Bullshit’.

Remember. Just a couple of years…


Grit Magazine Issue 01 | The Adaptive Issue ft. Lucy McRae

A finalist entry of the inaugural 2018 NGV Victorian Design Challenge.

“In 2016 the Victorian Government announced a major new initiative to support, celebrate and enable Victoria’s design sector. Curated and presented by the NGV in collaboration with Creative Victoria, the Victorian Design Program is a year-long roster of design and architecture focused events and activities culminating in Melbourne Design Week each March.

In 2017 the NGV introduced a new strand to the program — The Victorian Design Challenge — which invites Victorian designers to form multi-disciplinary teams with professionals from other sectors to apply design in targeting a real-world problem. For the inaugural Challenge, the NGV partnered with VicHealth and asked designers to respond to the Challenge question:

How might we increase the resilience of today’s young people?

Too much screen time?

Mental health issues in youth traditionally stem from an underlying sense of detachment and from an overwhelming feeling that they do not belong. However, despite the fact that the youth of today enjoy a far less violent environment and communities are swiftly re-defining their core values to embrace a more inclusive and tolerant culture, the rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2010.

On average, 2,000 young people commit suicide every year in Australia.

Additionally, the 2015 VicHealth Community survey of young Victorians’ resilience and mental wellbeing reports that, in Victoria alone:

  • 25% of young people have, or…


From the value of design to design-led value creation

In 2013 the US-based Design Management Institute started to track the value of publicly held companies that met specific design management criteria and proved that, over the span of ten years, design-led companies maintain significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P Index by a remarkable 200+ percent each year.

More recently, global venture capital firm NEA partnered with design leaders from IDEO, Invision and the likes to measure the impact of design across 400+ companies from around the globe and at all stages of growth.

Ollie Cotsaftis

Bio-Urban Heterotopias ♻️🌇

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store