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up to and including 23 June 2013

Design Column #4 - The Circle Is Round

'Design Column #4 The Circle Is Round' featured four stories that provide a counterweight to the current tendency towards withdrawal and defence. In different ways the projects show that thinking in terms of boundaries and linear developments is by no means always relevant. When doors appear to close, opportunities arise elsewhere. The ‘plastic soup’ in the ocean is not bound by national borders. Newer and bigger is not always better. Growth is cyclical; the circle is round.

‘The World is Deglobalizing at Breakneck Speed’ - so read the title of a long article in the Financieele Dagblad on 4 March this year. Over the last few decades there has been far-reaching globalization in which different economies, politics and culture have become increasingly interwoven at an international level. A widespread consumer culture brought about the scaling-up of our production processes and a worldwide distribution of labour. The international flows of money that accompanied this peaked in 2007.

In the article, the author Marcel de Boer describes the present downward spiral of economic growth. The article was published in response to a report - ‘Financial globalization: Retreat or reset’ - by the leading think tank, the McKinsey Global Institute. This report confirmed that international credit is at an end and that global flows of money have decreased by 60% compared to the peak in 2007. The financial crisis has meant that countries and companies post 2007 are now more often opting to look to themselves. In the first instance governments protect their own interests and become inward-looking, without examining the international impact of their measures.

It is an illusion, however, to think that far-reaching ‘deglobalization’ could happen in the current system. We are all part of the same global system. The McKinsey report advocates reform, ‘resetting’ the present financial model, so that a more sustainable phase of the world economy can begin.

The Idea That Makes the Difference

Every three months the Design Column stages an exhibit focusing on a subject in the news. The column is a place where new ideas are made visible – where the power of the imagination speaks. Designers and artists are by their very nature interested in experimental imagery. With their individualistic eye they often see things just that bit differently and they can set change in motion. The Design Column provides scope for this imagination.