Regenerative Culture and Design – Tools and Ideas for Futurists and Designers

In the last few months – I found numerous mentions of an emerging framework called “regenerative design.” It has been around for a while but seems to be gaining traction of late. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to spend time doing a futures presentation with some designers recently (thank you friends at Nike!!), and it has motivated me to pull together more of what I’d been running across here on the blog.

Definitions vary but among my favorites all coalesce around the idea that (honoring Indigenous perspectives) it is humanly possible to design, function and succeed in ways that support life in regenerative ways that renew a balance and future life for all creatures and living systems on the earth. What an important futures principle!

The key to this particular line of the thought (and the ways that it grows from but goes in a slightly different direction) is the DESIGN part. How do we engage designers, makers and innovators to use new ways of thinking to create a better world and future? Can and should designers be activists? (Guess what they are!) And what might this look like? (It looks like this, and this, and this, and this!) Much has been written about what we need to stop doing to rebuild the world…this information guides thinking towards what we might START doing.

Imagine a future where consumption was regenerative and sustainable, and where justice was the communication and social driver. The idea is that designers possess a skill set and vision that can help get us there faster if they embrace new ways of thinking about design goals and principles. These ideas comprise that set of regenerative design frameworks.

In the words of writer Daniel Christian Wahl Regenerative practice is about unleashing the potential of people in place by listening deeply into the story the land and its people want to tell. It is about finding ways to manifest the unique bio-cultural essence of each locality in ways that meet human needs while enriching and healing the wider biological community we are embedded in” (2019).

As a futures conceptual framework/touchpoint, this is a useful part of our toolkit. We need new ways of imagining how to create the future in ways that can bridge our “production” society to one that is about sustainability and survival (and maybe even some joy!!).

Here’s a list of links to explore further.

A glossary of regenerative culture (2019)

What is regenerative culture (2019)

Models for collaborative regeneration, transformation and co-creation (2019)

The Biomimicry Institute

Cindy Gilbert’s University of Minnesota Course in Biomimicry as Sustainable Design

Design justice principles

Earth-centered design principles (2019)

Can regenerative economics and mainstream business mix? (2019)

Ecological design, complexity and system health (2019)

Regenerative leadership (2019)

Podcast with Daniel Christian Wohl on designing with regenerative principles (2019)

The unacceptable collateral damage of overconsumption (2018)

Sustainability is not enough, we need regenerative cultures (2018)

Creating a regenerative future (2018)

Review of the book “Designing Regenerative Futures” (2018)

17 organizations promoting regenerative agriculture (2018)

Daniel Christian Wahl – What is regenerative design? (2017)

Five Indigenous farming practices enhancing food security (2017)

Does nature hold the answers to sustainability? Biomimcry as ecological innovation (2016)

Proceedings and links from global conference at Notre Dame called “Sustainable wisdom: Integrating Indigenous know how for global flourishing.” (2016)

Learning from nature and designing as nature: Regenerative cultures create conditions conducive to life (2016)

Regenerative design and a science of qualities (2016)

Biological approaches to design: Biotechnology, biomimicry and biophillic design (2014)


As long as grass grows: The Indigenous fight for environmental justice from colonization to Standing Rock

Designing regenerative cultures

Regenerative design and development

Indigenous sustainable wisdom: First-nation know how for global flourishing

Designing for hope

Biomimicry in architecture

Biomimcry resource handbook: A seed bank of best practices


5 Design approaches to start a new creative project (2019)

Seeds of bioregional regeneration (2019)

Regenerative design confronts higher education with hard questions (2019)

The unified theory of human centered design (2019)

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