It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.

– Benjamin Franklin


Featured artist: Alexandra Dzhiganskaya

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 195!

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I don’t own a lot of things and I’m conscious of accumulating more, and yet with every move comes the realisation that stuff has a way of multiplying.

And it’s ‘only’ been four years since my last move. My mum has lived in the same place for over forty years! Can you imagine the stuff that’s uncontrollably proliferating in her basement and attic?

Ugh, why is moving so utterly disruptive? It really only takes a few van loads – maybe a day or two of actually moving atoms from A to B – but in my head (and therefore in this newsletter) it has taken up a disproportionate amount of space for weeks, if not months.

I look forward to moving on from the move and getting back to proper thinking/writing work, and I’m sure you do, too. – Kai


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The Prepared →

An excellent, free newsletter on the built environment

Join 14,000 designers, engineers, and operators and subscribe to The Prepared – a free weekly email dose of logistical factoids and obscure manufacturing videos. Every Monday, our diverse staff of editors take you down industrial rabbit holes and explain how they affect your everyday life.


Apps & Sites

Felt →

Custom map maker

With Felt you can create highly customised maps. Use a marker, highlighter and notes to treat a map like a pad of paper. Smart, map-aware tools make drawing along roads and boundaries easy. You can also add photos, links and videos.

Not Too Late →

Against climate despair

This is a lovely one-pager (+ FAQ) to send to people feeling climate despair. It’s a simple reminder that no matter how bad things will get, it’s never too late to become more educated and engaged in the issue. 2C of warming is bad, but 2.01C of warming is worse.

Battery Widget →

Monitor battery levels

With this little macOS and iOS app, you can monitor the current battery status of all your Apple devices (and that of your friends or family if you/they so desire).

What Should I Read Next? →

Book recommendations

I love the fact that the internet constantly churns out more ways for finding new books to read. “Enter a book you like and the site will analyse our huge database of real readers’ favorite books to provide book recommendations and suggestions for what to read next.”


Worthy Five: Amreeta Duttchoudhury


Five recommendations by rocket structural engineer and lover of rom coms Amreeta Duttchoudhury

An activity worth doing:

I recently tried Aerial Yoga for the first time and it shifted my perspective on trust and my body. Yoga, at large, is about listening to your body and this experience forced me to listen a little closer when gravity wasn’t necessarily assisting me.

A podcast worth listening to:

Partners by Hrishikesh Hirway is a podcast about the ‘meet cute’ between collaborators. It’s a wholesome show that highlights all the complexities of relationships with the people we work with and reminds me that, fundamentally, creators and their creation are not so different.

A recipe worth trying:

Asha Gomez’s Kerala Fried Chicken brings together the nuance in American Southern and Southern Indian cooking in a way that honours flavours and textures of both cooking communities.

A question worth asking:

I recently found myself asking: ‘Is that your gut talking or your mind?’ I value my intuition quite a bit and under the lens of trying to listen better, this question helps me figure out when past experiences are hindering me from taking risks that I may be very well equipped to handle.

A concept worth understanding:

Everyone needs a coach for aspects in life we care to grow in. Atul Gawande summarised it beautifully in his 2011 The New Yorker piece Personal Best. Ever since reading this op-ed, I’ve been seeking teachers and coaches for all my curiosities.


Books & Accessories


Essential Labor →

Mothering as social change

When I first saw this title, I thought of Jenny Odell’s book How To Do Nothing in which she highlights how care and maintenance are under-appreciated, but ever so essential for our society. And sure enough, Jenny and this book’s author, Angela Garbes, have been in conversation.) “In Essential Labor, Garbes explores assumptions about care, work, and deservedness, offering a deeply personal and rigorously reported look at what mothering is, and can be. A first-generation Filipina American, Garbes shares the perspective of her family’s complicated relationship to care work, placing mothering in a global context – the invisible economic engine that has been historically demanded of women of colour.”


The Art of Repair →

Mindful mending

Molly Martin wrote a lovingly illustrated book about how mending broken things can be an antidote to our increasingly disposable lifestyle. The book “explores the humble origins of repair and how the act of mending a cherished item carefully by hand offers not just a practical solution but nourishment for the soul. Using her own beautiful illustrations, she guides us through the basics of the craft – from piecing and patching to the ancient Japanese art of Sashiko.”


Overheard on Twitter

I don’t wish to sound apocalyptic about this, but one has the sense that at present our society is simultaneously characterized by wildly disproportionate accountability for trivial transgressions and zero accountability for profound institutional failure.



Food for Thought

Silicon Valley’s Horrible Bosses →


Charlie Warzel with a fantastic opinion piece about an executive management style that relies on constant news-making, social media fandom and culture warring. “When you cut through the bravado and ego, and the tweets and blog posts, very little remains. The Musk School of Management doesn’t just model bad leadership; it props up leaders who cling to past successes and who substitute vision with bluster. It is the hallmark of an ideas man who is, in the end, out of good ideas.”

Twilight of the NIMBY →


This story highlights the complicated relationship between NIMBYs, developers and city officials. On the one hand, NIMBYs are often active participants in local placemaking, helping to create a sense of community. On the other hand, they’re also a main reason for why progress in local politics is so frustratingly slow and why housing affordability keeps getting worse. “How does a place that prides itself on progressive politics have so many policies that exacerbate inequality? How do homeowners whose window signs say they welcome every oppressed group rationalize a housing system that has caused their own children to flee?” (Possible soft paywall)

People hate the idea of car-free cities – until they live in one →


There is a growing movement of urbanists, city planners and local residents pushing for a rethink of car-dependent urban planning. As usual, European cities are leading the way in the Western world, showing that – unsurprisingly – early resistance to anti-car policies is strong and sometimes vicious, yet the long-term changes are profoundly positive. “Traffic-reduction programmes also have impacts beyond reducing air pollution and carbon emissions. In cities like Oslo and Helsinki, thanks to car-reduction policies, entire years have passed without a single road traffic death. It’s even been suggested that needing less parking could free up space to help ease the chronic housing shortage felt in so many cities.” (Possible soft paywall)


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

Nomadic architecture studio l’atelier delivers some lovely European apartment design, using a simple material palette to achieve an uncluttered, modern look.

❏ ❏

I’ve long been a fan of Ryan’s work over at Pavlov Visuals. I was lucky to work with him for a print in an early Offscreen issue. He’s recently added some really lovely new prints to his shop. Friends of DD enjoy a 15% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

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Things I Have Drawn exists in a distinct aesthetic category I would describe as ‘creepy cute’. “Things I Have Drawn imagines a world in which the things kids draw are real. What started as a silly little project between dad, Tom, and his 6-year-old son, Dom, soon had Dom’s younger brother, Al, joining in the fun, and more recently has turned into something much much bigger, with parents sending their kid's drawings in from all over the world.”

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The beautiful Roman Grotesque aims to merge two quite different type design categories. “The Roman Grotesque is a relationship between two forms: organic and geometric, a connection in which opposites reveal themselves to each other.”


Notable Numbers


A new global study on digital news shows that Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%), while news trust in the USA has fallen by a further three percentage points to just 26% and remains the lowest in that survey.


A Bloomberg analysis shows that as electric vehicle uptake continues to grow, they are already displacing 1.5 million barrels of oil demand per day. Most of this is from electric two- and three-wheelers (bicycles!) in Asia, but rising passenger EV sales will push this to 2.5 million barrels per day by 2025.


A new study on carbon emissions related to international food transport shows that high-income countries – which constitute just 12.5% of the world’s population – generate 46% of food miles emissions. In contrast, low-income countries with about half the global population cause only 20% of emissions.



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