The Spirit of Design

Research that expands understandings of sustainability to include notions of personal meaning that encompass spirituality and substantive values

This research combines the development of theory and argument with practice-based creative design research within a process comprising theoretical advancement, reflection and propositional design.


Selected publications and presentations in this area include:

Walker, S., The Spirit of Design: Objects, Environment and Meaning, Earthscan, London, 2011.

Richards, B., Walker, S., Blair, L. Cyber-Sustainability: leaving a lasting legacy of human wellbeing, Alt-HCI Conference, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, July 4-8 2011

Walker, S., The Spirit of Design: Objects,  Environment and Meaning, Keynote Address, Responsible Design Conference, Design Turkey 2010, Istanbul, December 8th 2010.

Walker, S., Wordless Questions: environment, meaning and propositional objects, Keynote Address, Annual International Workshop on Design and Semantics of Form and Movement, DeSFORM2010, Lucerne School of Art and Design, Lucerne, Switzerland, November 3-5, 2010.

Walker, S., Meaning in the Mundane: aesthetics, technology and spiritual values, Cumulus 2010 Conference, Tonji University, Shanghai, China, September 6-10 2010. 

Walker, S., ‘Touchstones: conceptual products for sustainable futures’, Keynote Address, European Futurists Conference, Lucerne, Switzerland, October 15th-16th 2009. This conference is aimed at professionals and corporate leaders from a wide range of industries. Video and slides available on website:


Design PhD Studies in this area: Prof. Walker is one of several faculty members involved in the Design PhD conference - an annual event offered in conjunction with Northumbria University. He is particularly interested in hearing from potential Design PhD candidates with interests that would fall within the broad themes of design for sustainability and/or design and human meaning (values, spirituality etc.), or who have interests in practice-based design research.

Project Team

WalkerWalker Stuart Walker Design for Sustainability ; Design, Values & Spirituality


Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice


FROM THE BACK COVER: Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice (London: Earthscan/Taylor and Francis) offers a compelling and innovative, design-centred approach that explores both the meaning and practice of sustainable design.   The book introduces vital concepts to students...More information

Design and Meaning

Articleby Stuart Walker
Design and Meaning

This research adds "Personal Meaning", understood as a combination of spirituality and substantive values (personal ethics), to our notions of sustainability. It expands conventional triple bottom line definitions of sustainability to include this fourth element (i.e. a Quadruple Bottom Line). Personal, Social and Practical Meanings are brought to the fore, while economic issues are demoted to a secondary order of priority, thereby acknowledging...Read full article

The Spirit of Design: objects, environment and meaning

The Spirit of Design: objects, environment and meaning

FROM THE BACK COVER: Imaginative design will be a crucial factor in enacting sustainability in people’s daily lives. Yet current design practice is trapped in consumerist cycles of innovation and production, making it difficult to imagine how we might develop a more meaningful and sustainable...More information