Creative Sustainability by Design

Seed Life

Awareness for creative sustainability.

Sunset in Bali

Lake Manasarovar, Tibet: A sacred pilgrimage, summer abode for birds and symbology for purity of mind. Unfortunately tourists and pilgrims continue to tarnish its shores with litter and the lake is contaminated with waste water due to poor sanitation.

(Photograph by Delphine Saira Gomez © 2013)

April 2014

DISCOURSE & REFLECTION by Delphine Saira Gomez

Working title: Creative Sustainability by Design

Research question: Can design effect change to create sustainability?

Reflection: Design in context to sustainability is especially relevant in our world today.

Challenge: Provide a cohesive method/tool to facilitate in the individuals creative process for sustainability.


What is real sustainability?

In my opinion real sustainability is as much about human development as it is about positive environmental impacts; the spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of humanity as it is about flourishing systems both human and natural. We are fortunate to have a seamless thread of information providing us with practical solutions and policies in place to guide our actions. However for any real change to happen we must first experience a deep connection with our environment which involves a process of self-discovery. Spiritual ecology has certainly 'hit the nail on its head’ by distinguishing and defining real sustainability as ‘deep ecology’ from ‘surface ecology’ and a deeper dimension called ‘eco-spirituality’. Taking a holistic view, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee PhD, Sufi teacher and author states, “by reconnecting deeply with our souls, we begin to understand the importance of the right values and economic models which sustain and preserve our environment.”  Environmentalist, Satish Kumar states that, 

“The contemporary environmental movement, in the main, follows the path of empirical science, rational thinking, data collection and external action. This is good as far as it goes but it doesn’t go far enough. We need to include care of the soul as a part of care of the planet.”

However practitioners who are fully aware that creative industries need to spur creative sustainability are curious as to, “what a creative toolbox for social good would look like” says Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability at Seymourpowell.

Scholars and creative practitioners have addressed these important questions of enhancing capabilities and individual participation. For example within sustainable studies such as field research in ‘Water resource development in Ethiopia: issues of sustainability and participation’, and ‘Human Development Theory’ by Amartya Sen economist Nobel Laureate, have explored the role of individuals cultural beliefs in shaping social welfare. Philosophical studies such as ‘Ecological Thinking’ by author Peter Marshall and ‘Objective Ethics’ by Ayn Rand, perceive that a cultural mind-shift of the individual is necessary to determine a code of moral ethics to preserve life. Sustainability in design studies such as ‘A Subversive Strategy’ by John R Ehrenfeld and Ezio Manzini on the ‘Economics of Design’, share similar views that the world’s crisis reflects a deeper imbalance which exists in the human psyche. Therefore design works better as a ‘tool’ to unleash potential and enhance inherent capabilities of people to solve problems.

Within the practice, creatives such as David Butler and Nathan Devine have explored the role of design to inspire and challenge individuals to create sustainability. David Butler talks about the shift from thinking about the ‘World of Design’ to ‘Design of the world’ and why the need for design has never been greater. Butler makes a valid point in saying that people need to become designers as every industry today is looking for innovation. It is about understanding the context, design purpose and focus on creating value. Nathan Devine has designed practical outcomes such as ‘’ centred on inspiring people to create sustainably. Unilevers have gone as far as to show us how by designing a simple model of effective behaviour change called ‘The 5 levers for Change’. Drawing inspiration from traditional cultures may help us move forward on this issue. For example, Indigenous knowledge based on concepts such as ‘Molong’ gives the Penan community a sense of caring and stewardship over their forest resources. These cultural communities have developed a system of agriculture, health care, traditional medicine, healing and education aligned with sustainability. A common factor in all of these cases is that appropriate design motivates effective strategies, policies, facilitates a creative process and solves communication problems by giving meaning, form and function to value-driven concepts and visions for the end-user or purpose.


This paper which takes on a socio-environmental tone seeks to help us reconsider visions, solutions and outcomes for our changing world through 'socially engaging design'(59).

The history of sustainable design reveals a close connection between changing concerns about the environment and its associated problems and the way in which real sustainability is defined and promoted. Mounting concern over environmental and development issues since the 1960’s has not only meant greater support for an educational approach, research and ‘eco-innovation’, but also addresses redefining the role of design and educating for ‘creative’ sustainability(50). Despite excellent research, which synthesise concepts in a cultural context and literature on environmental education for design none of these studies provide a cohesive model to facilitate in the individuals creative process for sustainability. Essentially, ‘Sustainability by Design’ needs further definition and a method of translating goals into guiding principles for development. In my view the closest design achieved a pathway to wholeness and sustainability was the use of ancient symbols such as mandalas used in ‘Art therapy’ and ‘Walking the labyrinth’ as a spiritual experience. This study will fill the gap in literature and practice, by examining the relevance of an ancient cultural symbol as contemporary design mediation in a cultural context. This work, relevant but not exclusive to creative practitioners seeks to be an inspiration and comprehensive study which contributes to a new philosophy of sustainability in design as well as, bridge an understanding between wholeness as a creative process of humanity and creating sustainability for a flourishing world.


Research reveals both positive and negative impacts of design for sustainability. Clearly in certain cases design tools or methods were used to facilitate the creative process but what determines the success or failure of these projects? As designers how can we make lives better? What can we offer to help people collaborate and connect better? How can design enhance capabilities and foster public support for causes and positive action? We do know however that ‘design thinking’ is important for sustainability, which involves a multidisciplinary learning and working platform to understand and communicate the intangible ideas we need to express. As a result various methods will be analysed and discussed in terms of how principles facilitate and are applicable in a prototype for social innovation and creative sustainability. The underlying theme which links each of these examples may be described allegorically as the ‘Tao of Shibumi’, design as path to a place or ideal state of being. Simply put, creative sustainability by design. The examples highlighted are:

1. The Tao of Shibumi- Design as a path to a place(11. 2011p2-3) (56)

2. Integral Theory and Integral Sustainable Design

3. The Creative Sustainability Program; ‘Redefinition of Sustainability’

4. The Frogs Toolkit

5. Proposed Method

1. The Tao of Shibumi: Design as a path to a place

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name.”

Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu, 4th Century BC.

Zen principles based on a philosophical and religious tradition of China called Taoism are closely related to this project to promote a holistic approach for creativity in context to sustainability. Taoism was created by Lao Tzu around 4th century BC in China and written in the Tao Te Ching. Its origins are traced to prehistoric folk religions in China and School of Naturalists such as Yin and Yang philosophy of opposing natural forces in unity and the five elements (water, fire, wood, metal and earth) to explain the universe in terms of basic forces in nature(5.1992p11). Another important text in Taoism is called the 'Zungzhi' created by Zungzhi who writes the seven chapters reflecting the ‘inner chapters’ of individuals(4.2001p4). The work uses anecdotes, parables and dialogues to express an important theme, which is, aligning oneself to the laws of the natural world and the ‘way’ of the elements. Difficult to pinpoint the exact meaning of Tao but in essence it reflects living in the spirit of Tao(52):

• In harmony and balance with nature.

• Immanent in individuals.

• As human beings are microcosms of the universe deeper understanding of the universe can be achieved by understanding oneself.

• Applied in practice: a ‘spiritual journey’, exercises to align oneself spiritually with cosmic forces, such as alchemy, breath meditation and Tai Chi martial arts which embody Taoist principles.

Reflection: A distinction between principles implemented in the Fritz model and Zen principles for Japanese aesthetics(51) for example is that Taoist principles promote qualities. We may refer for example to religious icons such as a Buddha statue, which communicates in form, a manifestation or embodiment of enlightened qualities. Creativity may be described as manifesting in terms of qualities such as compassion, simplicity, and naturalness. Manifesting these qualities within ourselves first will naturally reflect in everything else that we do.

Author Matthew E. May suggests a way towards ‘shibumi’; a journey towards wholeness or an ideal state of being by examining our lives conscientiously through events, lessons learnt from these experiences and the necessary steps to move forward proactively. Practitioners have attempted to apply some of these ancient principles to contemporary design practices(60) . However the missing link appears to be a visible expression or tool, which assists transformation.

The Yin and Yang symbol, which embodies Taoist principles, becomes a ‘communication portal.’ Research reveals tenets appropriate for this study.

Fig 1. Tao symbol for universal principles.

2. The Creative Sustainability Program to redefine sustainability, Aalto University (24)

This program was chosen with a clear focus on the theme ‘redefinition of sustainability’ and a systematic way for creative teamwork which follows a series of practical steps to assimilate knowledge, critical thinking, understanding and possible outcomes for design and other media. The Creative Teamwork program produced a new set of principles called the Four New Pillars which basically sets the stage for further sustainable development in areas of Mindset (‘Integral thinking’), Interconnections in Action (cultural context), You (human development) and Human Sustainability (social innovation). The educational program introduces a skills learning process, circular in progression rather than linear which may be described as ‘Thinking side-wise’ necessary for creative sustainability. An interesting point to note, emphasis was placed on qualities such as empathy and patience and key ideas of inter-connectedness and collaboration promoted through visual concepts such as the SUN (Sustainable United Nations) and ‘Turn On the Light' (Local Inclusive Governance Happy Teams). We can identify that a shared language is beginning to shape and define the essential principles for creative sustainability. The ability to express and clearly define abstract ideas and concepts for sustainability as well as for open dialogue and discursive reflection was an important aspect of this exercise.

Sunset in Bali

Fig 2. A Learning Skills Process,

3. Integral Sustainable Design: Transformative Perspectives(1. 2011)

The ‘All Quadrants’ model that essentially consists of four primary dimensions of Experience, Behaviours, Meaning and Systems combines diverse facets of human knowledge categorised as objective, subjective, individual and collective ways of knowing. The quadrants of diverse perspectives are meant to exist symbiotically, as ‘four simultaneous perspectives on any event’. De Kay elaborates an integral approach to design consisting of four primary dimensions:

1. Systems perspective– patterns of form that order ecological and social relationships.

2. Behaviours perspectives– individual parts or members with their performance, activities and functions.

3. Experiences perspectives– systemic members (human and non-human) with various forms of perception, sentience and awareness.

4. Cultures Perspectives– shared meaning and understanding at various levels of complexity arising from individual members interacting with each other.

De Kay compares this with a similar but expanded multi-perspective view of Sean Eborn Hargens Integral Ecology (1. 2011p17):

1. Experiences– Self and consciousness

2. Behaviour– Science, Mechanics and performance

3. Cultures– Meaning, worldviews, symbolism

4. Systems– Social, natural ecologies and context

Referring to the Integral Wilber model De Kay differentiates ‘High performance' design falling under the upper right quadrant from ‘Green ecological' approaches collapsing to the lower right quadrant. What design currently lacks is the interior aspects stating that human development in terms of stages follows a process of evolution and growth. For example divided into quadrants:

1. Interior behaviours section ‘bodily structure expands from gross to subtle to causal.

2. In the systems quadrant, social; systems expand from simple groups to complex systems to global systems.

3. (Interior) In the cultures quadrant collective values develop from egocentric to ethnocentric to world centric.

4. Experience; the individuals sense of self unfolds from body to mind to spirit.

He explains that when these three states are combined and integrated ‘on the four quadrants’ balance and wholeness is achieved. A higher consciousness of self if exhibited widely or collectively reveals an identifiable pattern where individuals begin to regulate themselves into villages, communities and societies which are ecological in nature.

Reflection: Research led me to discover Integral Theory in sustainable design that may provide an answer as a visible expression for transformation, manifestation of values and described as what integrates the 'beautiful in art, the good in ethics, the truth in science' (44) and one might add, the clarity in expression. Although Wilber’s work has been critised and undermined as limited, he is credited with ‘popularising’ integral thinking. This study defines a process where Mark De Kay attempts to help designers first understand the main theories which underlie sustainable design and apply them to practice. He incorporates an ‘all quadrant’ approach to design claiming that “a more comprehensive map of design emerges built on a web of connections of diverse perspectives and factors.”  Described as ‘Meta-theory’ in practice, integral design that is collaborative, discursive and inclusive proposes better understanding of the world, which essentially leads to better ways of living. We become better designers with empathy; when we create in context to the larger whole of the environment, people and culture. As De Kay states,

“When we are able to see and consciously distinguish different ways of seeing the world, it allows us to actively seek to understand and inquire other perspectives and truths in your design practice.”

A simple diagram was created to illustrate the Four Quadrants of Sustainability in design:

Sunset in Bali

Fig 3. Integral Sustainable Design Model.

4. The Collective Action Toolkit by Frog Design (38)

Committed to universal design thinking, the toolkit provides a method for collaboration and positive social impact which, exposes three main challenges in a colour coded order to solve problems, build new skills and gain knowledge. The Collective action toolkit uncovers vital elements of a creative process to identify and achieve goals. The process revolves around an action map and six key activities which are, Clarify your goal, Build your group, Seek new understanding, Imagine more ideas, Make something real and Plan for action. The toolkit which was developed from a research project called the ‘Girl Effect’ to help empower girls find solutions to their own local community problems in Africa is now adapted widely and internationally as a result of Frog’s commitment to social innovation and goal to make design thinking universal.

Sunset in Bali

Fig 4. A Collective Action Toolkit (Above), Readaptation of Von Oech’s 7 Step Creative Process Fritz Model (Below)


A pattern is identified between the ‘Four  Pillars’ and ‘All Quadrants’ models where sustainable design thinking involves an integration and symbiosis of four basic dimensions. Both frameworks based on similar principles or factors are meant to facilitate a creative process for human development and integral networking.

A comparative study between 'The Action Toolkit' and 'Von Oech’s 7 Step Process' reveals some similarities for example the first step is to determine goals or a clear vision to move forward productively. Although Van Oech’s creative process may be targeted for individual development whereas Frog’s toolkit is geared towards an integrative network it is important to note that these two developments go hand in hand for how can we possibly connect and care for others if we are incapable of caring for ourselves first in the context of spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Another important distinction is how Van Oech has created a balance between activity and relaxation, patterning the natural ‘ebb and flow’ of life. A period of ‘incubation’ is necessary to gain insight, clarity and creative direction.

The Proposed Method

The scope of the work expands to illustrate a method for design thinking and what can be done to facilitate the creative process. The proposed method is explored and examined in terms of how a Labyrinth Seed model may integrate essential principles and become a relevant tool for positive social impact and creative sustainability.

Sunset in Bali
Sunset in Bali

Fig 5. Nasca, South Lima: Nasca lines were created by a pre-Incan Nasca civilization that flourished in the area from ca.1-750 A.D. These enormous animal motifs and geometric patterns were discovered in 1926. Archaeologists believe both the construction and maintenance of the lines were communal activities—"like building a cathedral".

Fig 6. Source:National Geographic website, Nasca lines: An animation which illustrates how the ancients constructed geoglyphes.

Labyrinth-mandalas described as teaching centeredness, microcosms of the universe and a metaphor for  life’s journey towards ultimate wholeness are ancient patterns found all over the world and still used today(11). Traditionally, in Tibet a mandala for ‘house’ or ‘place’ represents a Buddha’s divine space of residence, in India a Labyrinth signifies a symbolic pathway from death to life also used as a sort of game and recreational activity, which reflected a mystical experience to achieving enlightenment. In Peru the ‘Nasca lines’ consist of pathways with an entry and exit point suggesting that these enormous geoglyphs were used for ceremonial and communal purposes. Peruvian archaeologist, Johny Isla has experienced the labyrinth and goes so far to state that one has to 'feel' the lines by walking them to truly understand what they mean. Stephen Hall, writer for National Geographic likens the experience as a 'prayer walk' which 'provided a kinetic, ritualistic reminder to the Nasca people that their fate was tied to their environment—its natural beauty, its ephemeral abundance, and its life-threatening austerity.' (49). In today’s world, Labyrinths are still used as a form of moving meditation described as centering and relaxing. Case studies reveal positive effects, responses and support for greater use of the labyrinth by which individuals make a symbolic journey of awakening to reality and a method to uncover a deeper pattern underlying the divine system of life; a learning and creative process described as a pivotal turning point, a revelation, insightful, liberating, empowering!' Reports reveal a growing number of labyrinths used as a source for relaxation, spiritual experience, introspection and emotional healing(7. 2006p228). Applied in other areas such as in industry, the labyrinth has been used as a business and enterprise strategy for a skills learning process.

Direct experience of a labyrinth has helped determine this form as ‘energising’. Based on a concentric and spiral pattern the inward journey was one of uncertainty, anxiety and enclosure. The greater and positive impact was the journey out with a sense of liberation and expanding space. I felt a lightness of being and joy. Walking the labyrinth is a recreational experience; focused on the activity of ‘walking’, of being fully in the present I gradually gained a sense of control and calm. The activity leaves you centred, relaxed and therefore more open to intuitive insights. According to research(57) the labyrinth seven circuits of the classical Cretan Labyrinth pathway are also associated with the seven primary chakras of the body which are spiralling vortexes of energy that make up the energy field of our bodies. Yoga works with the chakra system, as do various complimentary healing modalities. Described as an ‘archetype of the mind’ the labyrinth imprints a ‘royal groove’, a ceremonial pathway designed according to principles such as 'Harmonic Proportion'(55) and 'Alternance of Energy' (naturally replenished). For instance, the clockwise (sun wise) and counter-clockwise (moon wise) spins of the meanders map out a balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain; walking the labyrinth creates synergy between physical energy and consciousness. Interestingly, the sequence of the labyrinth path is also reinterpreted into music. 

The Labyrinth Seed model may be seen as:

• A universal symbol designed as a reflective and practical method.

• A vision for creative sustainability

• Promotes whole-thinking approach for learning, creativity and growth

• A multi-purpose creative tool

• Highlighted ‘artistically’ in an interactive visual display

• An integrative systems-model which facilitates a creative process

• Integrates four main systems within one overall system

• Incorporates key principles of Zen philosophy, Integral theory and sustainable design, The Four Pillars' learning skills and integral toolkit.

• The visual concept, ‘Mapping the Labyrinth’ re-interpretes the classical seed pattern in a contemporary way

• Develops into a visual guide which highlights key principles for creative sustainability through a step by step procedure and encourages active participation in a series of questions and answers.

How can we learn from this study?

• Discovering how integral theories are cleverly woven into a design thinking process we may incorporate similar strategies or expand a creative process of our own.

• Develop a shared vocabulary/ language for intellectual discourse and reflection

• Draw inspiration and adapt from open and creative sources of integral thinking and tools.

• A particularly interesting aspect of the research demonstrated how complex issues and ideas were articulated clearly, effectively analysed in terms of key activities for a learning and skills development process and applied to practice.

• Critical analysis of various elements will determine ‘workability’, how key principles are applicable and potential deduction of the Labyrinth seed model as an integral tool through feedback or case studies.

Categorised as follows:

1. Why a cultural symbol?

2. Defined elements through examples

3. Incorporation of key principles

4. Conceptual Design

5. Implementation and feedback

6. Reflection and insight

7. Definition, development, improvement:

    Activity 1: Outlines a creative process

    Activity 2: What works and what does not

    Activity 3: Design and Development

    Activity 4: Mapping the Labyrinth

How is this project beneficial for the audience or different from or stand out from other projects?

The aim of the subject is focused on the outcome of inspiring individuals to create sustainability for a flourishing world. I am highlighting a method, which may help people achieve this. The subject is promoted in website to draw awareness to the cultural context of design and engage with the audience. Labyrinths are described as a tool for walking meditation, which balances the left and right side of the brain and induces a centred and calm state of being. Research led me to discover, understand and incorporate various elements in philosophy, theory, skills development, and tools appropriate for this study. The work analyses a process to illustrate how a manifesto is transformed into a visual model and applied to practice. As case studies  reveal the positive impacts of the labyrinth I sought to implement a strategy for a wider audience or application. The illustration was further developed to form a basic Labyrinth Seed Model incorporating core principles. Will this model develop skills necessary for creative sustainability? How will it facilitate a creative process for sustainable design? Using contemporary methods and technology, I explored the patterns in a design process for sustainability.

• (Please refer to Case Studies section: Case Study 1)

1. Why a cultural symbol?

Sunset in Bali

According to history, visual language began with symbols (represents thought), pictographs (represents image) and ideograms (represents concept). Symbols convey, create and effect meaning. Anthropologist, Victor Turner believed that ‘ritualistic symbolism’ for example helped to connect the individual with ‘ethereal ideas or a transcendental experience through a tangible ritual process.’ One might propose that design strives for a completeness beyond the physical expression itself. Symbols in gesture signify a code of conduct from a simple handshake recognised as a polite greeting or agreement and alternatively ‘bowing’ as the custom in Japan and Korea. We can identify the power of a symbol, which evokes an emotional or psychological response such as the peace symbol by Gerald Holtom. Integrating a symbol into a cultural system has the power to transform vision into reality.

2. Content: Define elements

2014 © Created by Delphine Saira Gomez

Various methods and integral principles needed to be assessed and appropriately adapted to create a framework for this model. It was a question of taking an ‘eclectic’ approach by selecting only what was suitable or the best qualities of each element based on both direct experience as well as tacit knowledge. A subject as complex as Tao philosophy involved analysis and reflection of key principles. Specifically applied to design these principles may help us identify a deeper pattern to life and inspire the ‘art of living’ in wholeness and balance.

3. Key principles integrated

2014 © Created by Delphine Saira Gomez

Recognising and adapting key principles for integral thinking sets the foundation. Here, I have attempted to merge principles from both the ‘The Four Pillars’ creative program and ‘The Four Quadrants’ Integral theory.

4. Join the dots and make the connection:


2014 © Created by Delphine Saira Gomez

A basic design reveals a simple method to create a labyrinth. The concept adapts the Cretan model, first documented on a clay tablet from Pylos, Greece (circa 1200 BCE) and also found on Cretan Coins of 400 to 500 BCE, these labyrinths are easily constructed using a seed pattern. Making a connection is at the heart of the message for sustainability. Infusing intangible values with meaning, creativity and a cultural context manifests in the Labyrinth Seed Model. The seed concept signifies setting the foundation, taking root, nourishment and growth for a sustainable future.

I experimented with some activities and applied them to practice through questions such as ‘How do I design sustainably?’ and ‘What kind of impact do I want to create?’. The toolkit provided clear and easy steps to follow and managed to guide me through a thinking process from a micro to macro perspective. Although the tool promotes group effort the method works just as well for the individual. The first four steps incorporate some of the activities from The Frog Action Toolkit to clarify and define goals through a step and step procedure. For example the first activity is to determine the most important problem to solve, role-playing which may help us to understand more deeply problems from various perspectives and come to agreement on goals to achieve.

5. Implementation and feedback

2014 © Created by Delphine Saira Gomez

The practical phase is a gradual process of transforming thinking into creative action. Direct and active participation includes activities such as fieldwork (interviews, case studies and questionnaires), networking and collaboration to actualise a vision. The creative process is as much about incubation as it is about action, a ‘step back’ period to relax, digest, be intuitive and open to alternative ideas. As I learnt to approach the project as recreational and in the spirit of a labyrinth experience, the work began to unfold fairly naturally in a spiraling ‘action loop’ – sometimes feeling very much at a loss going round in circles but in actual fact progressing towards a definite point with an openness in discussions, exchange of ideas and suggestions. Important to note that a willingness to be open is the driving force for a subject matter as multifaceted as sustainability.

6. Reflection and insight

2014 © Created by Delphine Saira Gomez

The proposed method defines eight different components for sustainable design and adopts an implementation model, which integrates principles for individual, collective, cultural and contextual development. The design and development process is a continuous cycle of planning, design, development and assessment for effective instruction. This means that we need to slow down and think deeply to create sustainably, a somewhat tedious but necessary process. I think that once we have carefully defined real sustainability, integrated the necessary components of a shared vocabulary, integral tools and a culture of ‘Zen’, for greater artistic and spiritual harmony, the transformative process of thinking to doing is achieved more effectively.

I created a procedure by reinterpreting a process in meditation and adapting part of the Fritz model. The principles are described according to an 8 step creative process:

Sunset in Bali

7. Definition and development

The Labyrinth Seed Model which integrates key elements may be analysed according to Merrill’s principle for an effective learning process divided into four key activities:

Activity 1 (A1): Outlines a creative process– activation of prior experience

Activity 2 (A2): What works and what does not– demonstration of skills

Activity 3 (A3): Design and Development– application of skills

Activity 4 (A4): Mapping the Labyrinth– integration of these skills into real world activities

A1. Mindfulness (First loop)

Before we start the journey of the skills learning labyrinth we need to first determine where we are, where we want to go and the means to achieve our goals.

A1. Exploration (Second loop)

Explore and examine diverse factors in a cultural context in terms of integrating a philosophy, theories, skills and tools for positive action.

A2. Delight (Third loop)

As we gain knowledge and understanding, drawing closer towards the centre, this circuit explores our direct involvement. Despite increasing experience however, we may still be uncertain of our path. As mentioned previously, being open to suggestions and new ideas may help us stay or lead us on the right track.

A2. Insight (Centre)

Finding our centre is essentially about discovering what we care most about; an integration of heart, mind and energy extending in everything we do. The process is as much about introspection as it is about gaining knowledge; learning to deeply connect and care for personal and shared values.

A3. Take-in (Fifth loop)

At this stage a new focus comes into play, feeling deeply engaged for action. We become a little more in tune with the way our mind works by identifying patterns as well as trusting our intuitive hunches.

A3. Action (Sixth loop)

Through greater awareness, new found confidence and our deep connection with others will help us collaborate and gain mutual support for shared initiatives and goals.

A4. Thoughtfulness (Seventh loop)

The process may feel more like a meandering hills cape, a recurring pattern of confusion rather than a circuitous loop challenging us to greater competence. This requires that we ‘step back’ to reflect and meditate on our journey so far. Being able to see the ‘Big Picture’ will help us gain perspective and how best to proceed.

A4. Empathy (Eighth loop)

Realising that our life’s journey is about making the best of each moment one step at a time may also help us to understand we are all travelling at our own pace evolving gradually in stages. At a critical point however we can facilitate or speed up a process of learning through open source platforms and tools, which spur human development for creative sustainability.


‘Good’ design is needed more than ever to avoid haphazard planning and the right tools to implement sustainable initiatives. Based on research and direct  personal experience it might be suggested that design enhances individual capabilities and effects positive change for creative sustainability through the use of a cohesive tool. Although the work has yet to be fully evaluated for feedback and effective results one might add that adaptation and integration of integral models facilitates a creative process for individual transformation.



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Available at:

42. Indigenous Knowledge for sustainability  Available at: mods/theme_c/mod11.html [Assessed: November 2013]

43. Integrative EcoSocial Design Available at: [Assessed: November 2013]

44. Interview between Ken Wilber and Mark DeKay, The Principles of Iintegral Sustainable Design. Available at:

45. Labyrinth & Mazes  Available at: [Assessed: October 2013]

46. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee  Available at: [Assessed: November 2013]

47. Luminous symbols for healing, Judith Cornell  Available at: [Assessed: October 2013]

48. Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: Triangulation in Action by Todd d Jick 

Available at:

Socially innovating cultures htm?articleid=1852510&show=html

49. National Geographic, 'Nasca Lines: Spirits in the Sand' by Stephen Hall  Available at

50. Pro-Quest, Knight, Alison (2009) Hidden Histories: the Story of Sustainable Design

Available at  [Assessed: December-April 2014]

51. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 'Japanese Aesthetics'  Available at:

52.  Available at:

53. The Guardian, Environmentalist Satish Kumar answers Guardian readers’ questions – video  Available at: [Assessed: November 2013]

54. The Guardian, ‘The seven myths of sustainability’ by Kenneth Amaeshi. Available at: [Assessed: November 2013]

55. Universal Learnado: Gods most perfect creation  Available at:

56. ZenTalks, Fayetteville Zen Center (2010) 'Zen reflections: Shibui, Shibumi, and Wabi-Sabi'

Available at:

57. Crystalinks: Labyrinths  Available at:

58. New York Times (1998) 'Reviving Labyrinths, Paths to Inner Peace  Available at:

59. Mutual Art, 'Art for Change'  Available at:

60. Fast Company Co Design, '7 Design Principles, Inspired By Zen Wisdom'  Available at:

Copyright © Delphine Saira Gomez.