Designing around Dark Matter

Without addressing dark matter, and without attempting to reshape it, we are simply producing interventions or installations or popups that attempt to skirt around the system. This is a valid tactic, but not much of a strategy. A strategy would focus on delivering the intervention whilst also enabling the positive energy it creates to be easily drawn into the system, to shape it over time. (This is often why there’s such a gulf—of time, or in realisation—between student projects or the output of research labs and those same ideas or technologies hitting the street. It’s not the idea or the technology that matters, but how you combine that with its dark matter.)

This is a balancing act, as too much time spent immersed in dark matter can lead to nothing being produced, and change is best enabled through prototyping, through making, through demonstrating—through, yes, working with matter. Traditional consultancy tends to only deal with ‘dark matter’ exclusively, rather then synthetically produce an alternative or tangible iteration, and so its effects are hugely limited as a result. So it’s the balance of matter and dark matter that, well, matters.

Sketchbook: Dark Matter & Essay: Dark Matter & Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary by Dan Hill.