Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.

– Brené Brown


Featured artist: The Noc Design

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 179!

View/share online

For the last fortnight, I kept The War Diary of Yevgenia Belorusets open as a tab in my browser, refreshing the site at least once a day. Belorusets is a Ukrainian artist, photographer and writer using her blog to chronicle a dramatically changing Kyiv.

Through her short daily entries, she paints an intimate, at times hopeful, often upsetting but always human picture of what it’s like living with the ever-present anticipation of violence and destruction.

“When I left my apartment today, I saw an empty street. No cars, no pedestrians. At such moments, Kyiv seems like a city that has yet to be inhabited – a city without a present, with only a past and a future. …

“Time goes on – one day after another, the sequence is assured, after brightness comes the night. At the same time, almost everything that happens is contrary to the state of living – I don’t want to say, ‘contrary to normality’. I search for a more appropriate word, but cannot find it. The word should describe a total destruction, but at the same time keep open the possibility that much can still be saved.”

She describes a reality that feels distant and dystopian and yet at times relatable: simple observations hint at a familiar everyday life that is mere days in the past but now a world away.

“Since yesterday, here, in the centre of Kyiv, you can tell a story about the war on every street corner. Almost every intersection is guarded day and night by armed members of the Territorial Defence. There are more groups of saboteurs in the city, more violence. I look with relief into the eyes of the men and women of the defence. In one of the faces yesterday, I recognised with amazement a barista who was popular in our neighbourhood because he painted particularly beautiful swans on the milk foam of the coffees. …

“I receive a utility bill for my Kyiv apartment. It is accompanied by a Telegram message that sounds like an apology: ‘We are writing to you with a request. If your financial means allow under the circumstances, please pay the utilities. Many Kyiv utility workers joined the Ukrainian army and are now fighting for our freedom. However, it is still important to pay the bills.’”

In our excessively mediated world we’re constantly being desensitised to the casualties of conflicts and disasters. As this war goes on, eventually the headlines will shrink and the public’s attention will wane.

I hope Belorusets’ daily writing will continue. I hope she can keep documenting the lived experience of this war and, by doing so, remind us of the preciousness and precariousness of the lives we all live. Most of all, I hope she will be okay. – Kai

(Yevgenia Belorusets’ diary is syndicated in German, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, French and Greek.)


Become a Friend of DD →

With a modest yearly contribution you’re not only helping keep Dense Discovery going, you also receive special discounts and get access to the DD Index, a searchable catalogue of past issues.


Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of design, technology, sustainability and culture, read by over 37,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


The Business of Hip-HopSPONSOR


Trapital →

Stay ahead of trends that start in hip-hop

Trapital’s free weekly memo covers the business of hip-hop, the biggest cultural force in society. Follow Trapital founder Dan Runcie as he explores sensations like Kanye’s Stem player and Rihanna’s Fenty empire. You’ll enjoy it if you already love hip-hop, but you’ll get even more out of it if you don’t.


Apps & Sites

Supernotes →

Note-taking meets task management

Supernotes is a note-taking service built around cards. Not unlike Notion, but with stronger categorisation and collaboration features, Supernotes comes with web, desktop and mobile apps to give you easy access to your notes. Friends of DD enjoy an extra 20 cards on the free account. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

Morgen →

Calendar powertool

Morgen is a cross-platform calendar app with loads of powerful features to help you manage several calendars. I like the idea behind ‘Quick Peek’ (quickly open minimised versions of the app through a shortcut) and the built-in scheduling assistant.

Class Central →

Free online courses

Class Central is a search engine and review site for over 50,000 free online courses known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on almost every imaginable subject.

Cognitive Bias Codex →

A visual model of human bias

Wikipedia still surprises after so many years: this is Wikipedia’s list of 188 cognitive biases, grouped into categories, rendered as a radial dendrogram and linked to their corresponding Wikipedia articles.


Worthy Five: Emily Ladau


Five recommendations by disability rights activist and author Emily Ladau

A concept worth understanding:

The curb cut effect: Not everyone can step up a curb from street to sidewalk, but ‘curb cuts’ are usable by everyone. By creating more curb cuts (both literally and figuratively), we can make the world more accessible.

A question worth asking:

‘Is the table accessible?’ We often ask ‘Who is at the table?’ or ‘Who is missing from the table?’ when it comes to conversations about power. But the first question we should be asking is whether everyone can actually get to the table.

A book worth reading:

Skin, Tooth, and Bone: The Basis of Movement is Our People is an in-depth primer on the disability justice movement. It’s vital reading for understanding that disability doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It shows how and why we ought to centre the leadership of multi-marginalised disabled people.

An Instagram account worth following:

Arc4G is a disabled digital artist whose work is absolutely mesmerising.

A piece of advice worth passing on:

You don’t owe anyone your story. I’m a passionate believer in the power of storytelling to create connections and understanding, but I’ve also learned that it’s okay to keep parts of my life for myself and not make them available for public consumption.


Books & Accessories


The Sunny Nihilist →

The pleasure of pointlessness

Is it just a coincidence that everyone is looking for ‘purpose’ in their work/life at a time when the weight of everything feels unbearably heavy? In The Sunny Nihilist, Syfret presents “the optimism in Nihilism, encouraging us to dismantle our self-care and self-centered way of living and accept a life more or less ordinary. Syfret re-examines the meaning of worth, value, time, happiness, success, and connection, and guides us towards the alternative path of pointless pleasure.”


The New Traditional →

Rediscovering old crafts and practices

A coffee table book that explores our renewed appreciation for old crafts and forgotten identities. The New Traditional looks to the craftsmanship, lifestyle, and unique experiences of the people keeping these practices alive. From blacksmithing, weaving, sake making, tending sheep, or simply having a sauna, the book tells the stories of those devoting their energy, skills, and creativity to such activities.”


Overheard on Twitter

When my son was born, I created an email address for him. Every achievement and photo taken is sent to that email. When he is old enough, he will get the password and will have all those memories. Sharing this idea for those who may like it to do as well.



Food for Thought

How vulnerable is the world? →


A dark but fascinating and timely read about humanity’s chances of developing a new technology with the potential to erase our species and the question of how far we would be willing to go to stop that from happening. At the core of this essay is the following theory: “One way of looking at human creativity is as a process of pulling balls out of a giant urn. The balls represent ideas, discoveries and inventions. Over the course of history, we have extracted many balls. Most have been beneficial to humanity. The rest have been various shades of grey: a mix of good and bad, whose net effect is difficult to estimate. What we haven’t pulled out yet is a black ball: a technology that invariably destroys the civilisation that invents it.”

The moral calculations of a billionaire →


This is a short profile of 78-year-old US American billionaire Leon Cooperman who spends his days watching his wealth increase while writing cheques to charities. It paints a more humane, maybe even relatable picture of a person in the uppermost layer of capitalism, while also highlighting the absurdity and pointlessness of such unfathomable wealth. “12 more hours anchored to the chair in his office, monitoring the market and calling in to his trading desk again and again as the sun reflected off the swimming pool outside his window. The market fell. The market rose. He bought $3 million in distressed bonds. He gave another $5 million away to charity. He was $18 million up for the day. He was $6 million down. He was beating the market again by mid-morning, losing at lunch, winning an hour later, and then losing again. ‘Does it make any sense?’ he asked himself, watching the numbers change on his screen. ‘To sit inside all day in front of a machine, making money I don’t need so I can give it to someone I don’t know?’”

The High Cost of Ikea Furniture →


This piece’s powerful lede got my attention: “Since 2007, Romania has lost between half and two-thirds of its virgin forest. The environmentalists and activists trying to protect it keep getting killed.” It’s a short interview with reporter Alexander Sammon who followed an activist into the Romanian forests to see the extent of the illegal logging industry and how it relates to Ikea. “Ultimately Ikea is an extractive industry like ExxonMobil or any of these other companies that are engaged in extractive activities. It’s a wood company at the end of the day, and how they get that wood and how they get it cheaply is, I think, an important part of the story. There are estimates that say that Ikea consumes 1 percent of wood globally, which makes it the most outstanding wood consumer on the planet as a company. That’s the game that they’re involved in. There’s a lot of branding and a lot of corporate messaging and strategy that goes to make it seem like it’s actually about design or something else. But that’s ultimately what it is.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

This new timber bridge in Gulou, China is both a stunning beauty and an architectural/engineering marvel.

❏ ❏

Photographer Nikita Teryoshin captures the absurdly macabre business of war expos in his series Nothing Personal. “Almost everyday on the news we are watching pictures of war and destruction and the expenditure on armaments is setting new records year after year. Well, let‘s take a look at the other side of the subject – behind the curtains of global defence business. Nothing Personal shows the back office of war, which is the complete opposite of a battlefield: A oversized playground for adults with vine, fingerfood and shiny weapons.”

❏ ❏

David Bird is an ex-Lego designer who traded in plastic bricks for acorns and sticks to make cute little creatures that interact with wildlife. Prints are available in his shop.

❏ ❏

Gradient is intended as a transitional typeface, connecting the constructed features in sans-serif styles with playful handwriting – available in eight styles with five stylistic sets.


Did You Know?

The original naming of the syphilis disease involved blaming neighbouring countries.

From the very beginning, syphilis has been a stigmatised, disgraceful disease; each country whose population was affected by the infection blamed the neighbouring (and sometimes enemy) countries for the outbreak. So, the inhabitants of today’s Italy, Germany and United Kingdom named syphilis ‘the French disease’, the French named it ‘the Neapolitan disease’, the Russians assigned the name of ‘Polish disease’, the Polish called it ‘the German disease’, The Danish, the Portuguese and the inhabitants of Northern Africa named it ‘the Spanish/Castilian disease’ and the Turks coined the term ‘Christian disease’. Moreover, in Northern India, the Muslims blamed the Hindu for the outbreak of the affliction. However, the Hindu blamed the Muslims and in the end everyone blamed the Europeans. (Source)



Curiosity Archives is a newsletter about design for change-makers and curious minds, connecting fields like art, architecture, biology and technology.

Worried about your original IP being stolen when pitching to third-parties? PitchMark it! A PitchMark is a time- and date-stamped digital token that signifies proof of creation.

Lucid designs and builds beautiful, functional, highly-optimized online stores for purpose-driven brands on Shopify Plus.

Sense-Making for Product People. Field is creating a new culture of product development readers of Horst Rittel, Christoph Alexander and Otl Aicher will love.

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by our 37,000 subscribers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


Reply or tweet at DD with your favourite GIF and it might get featured here in a future issue.