John Thackara

John Thackara

A Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Art in London, travels the world in a continuous search for live examples of what a sustainable future can be like. He writes about these stories at his blog,, and in books, and advises cities, companies, and institutions.

For more than thirty years John Thackara has traveled the world in his search of stories about the practical steps taken by communities to realise a sustainable future. Born in the UK, he now lives in south west  France, John studied philosophy, and trained as a journalist, before working for ten years as a book and magazine editor.

He was the first director (1993—1999) of the Netherlands Design Institute in Amsterdam; he was program director of Designs of The Time (Dott07), the social innovation biennial in England; he was commissioner in 2008 of France’s main design biennial, Cité du Design.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art, in London, a Fellow of Musashino Art University in Japan and a member of the UK Parliament’s Standing Commission on Design.

John has also edited the magazine Design for five years, and was later Modern Culture Editor of Harpers & Queen, and design correspondent of The Guardian. He then started a conference and exhibition company, with offices in London and Tokyo, which created and organised events at the Pompidou Centre, Victoria & Albert Museum, Axis Gallery in Tokyo, and other venues.

From 1989-1992 John was Director of Research at the Royal College of Art.  Among John’s 12 books are Design After Modernism: Beyond the Object (1987), and Lost in Space: A Traveller’s tale (1995). His best-selling book In the Bubble: Designing In A Complex World, was published by MIT Press in May 2005 and has since been published in nine other languages. His most recent book How To Thrive In The Next Economy was published in 2015.

In addition to his big-picture keynote talks for cities, companies, and institutions, he also chairs events, and is known for his lively Q+A interviews. He has curated two national biennials and serves on a number of international professional juries.

Fast Company described John Thackara as “a business provocateur….”. For the Wall Street Journal, he “has established a global reputation as a cutting edge design expert”. Wired called him a “a design luminary”. The San Francisco Chronicle described him as a “wired era visionary”. The Economic Times of India noted his “brilliant insights into the internet and sustainability”.


What people say about John Thackara

“Gave our conference the positive energy it needs “

“You provoked us with outside-in, future-related, concepts and opinions”

“You lifted the conference and discussion to a high level”

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