We have an economy where we steal the future, sell it in the present, and call it GDP.

– Paul Hawken


Featured artist: Julian Frost

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 84!

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A few years ago, I bought a Philips beard trimmer which has been a joy to use – until the battery started to fail earlier this year. Trying to figure out how to replace it, I fell down a research rabbit hole, spending hours on YouTube and in bottomless iFixit forum threads. I borrowed special tools and even had a friend with a soldering iron at the ready. But to no avail: this device was intentionally designed to never be opened. (More experienced DIY fixers may be more successful, or at least more comfortable with breaking non-essential parts in order to get inside.)

“At Philips, we fully embrace sustainability, because of its benefits for society, and because we believe that it is a driver for innovation and economic growth. That’s why sustainable development is an integral part of our company strategy.”

That’s a quote from Frans van Houten, the CEO of Philips. It’s part of their website’s sustainability section where they wrap corporate speak around buzzy words like EcoDesign and Circular Economy. Unsurprisingly, you can find those same words, slightly rearranged, on the website of every electronics manufacturer out there.

Walking down the ‘personal care’ aisle of electronics stores, I can’t help but feel disgusted. Dozens of brands, hundreds of options of toothbrushes and shavers, and every single one of them is designed to be discarded at the end of their battery life. How did we ever accept this as the norm? When did planned obsolescence become an acceptable characteristic of what we continue to call ‘well-designed’ products?

One of the cornerstones of good design is longevity, never obsolescence. It’s time for product designers to reclaim the meaning of ‘design’ from corporate marketing departments. And it’s time for consumers to demand better design. – Kai

Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter read by more than 36,000 subscribers. Support us by (1) Sponsoring an issue, (2) Booking a classified ad, or (3) Sharing this issue with friends.


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Apps & Sites

Rooster →

Browsing stats in every new tab

Browser extension Rooster (Chrome only) keeps you informed about your browsing habits: it automatically tracks how much you are spending time on which website and then shows that data every time you open a new tab. Data is only stored locally.

Permanent →

A permanent digital archive

Your ‘cloud’ storage only really exists as long as you pay your subscription fees and the company who runs it doesn’t disappear. Permanent.org wants to give you an everlasting digital space for important data that you pay for once. How? The model invests your contributions into a non-profit endowment that covers the perpetual cost of storage.

Dunked →

Minimal portfolio site

Dunked is a portfolio builder for visual artists such as designers, photographers, and illustrators. I really like how its light aesthetic footprint puts the artwork front and centre.

Userguiding →

Interactive product tours

Userguiding lets you build interactive product walkthroughs and new feature highlights that help with onboarding new users.


Indie Mag of the Week


The Light Observer →

A biannual magazine that explores light in all its forms – through in-depth articles and interviews, mixing upcoming and well-known artists, photographers, architects, scientists, designers.

– Latest Issue: 1
– Frequency: 2 issues/year
– Formats: print
– Origin: France

Every week, we’re giving away five copies to randomly selected DD readers. Keep an eye on your inbox to find out if you’re among them!




The Emotionally Intelligent Office →

Emotional skills for the workplace

Modern businesses place huge emphasis on technical training. And yet a lot of what determines the success or failure of organisations has nothing to do with the sort of hard skills taught at business school; instead, it comes down to the degree of emotional intelligence circulating in the workplace. This book is an in-depth exploration of what really lies behind our problematic behavioural patterns in the workplace, and a blueprint for the emotional skills we need to overcome them.


Drippy Pots →

Happy, hand-made ceramics

These coffee mugs make me want to eat donuts. Brian Giniewski and a team of a talented makers produce ‘Drippy Pots’ from Philadelphia in the US. Each piece is painstakingly hand-made and requires a full month to create from start to finish. “The Drippy Pots brand is about making special, unique pieces of art that are both happy and accessible.”


Overheard on Twitter

Y’all worried about 5G towers but haven’t eaten a vegetable since 2013.



Food For Thought

The Coronavirus Is Showing Us Which Entrepreneurs Matter →


How often do you think about entrepreneurship when you get your hair cut or get a take-away coffee? “If Casper, WeWork or some celebrity’s makeup company doesn’t survive this crisis, the impact on our lives will be negligible. Elon Musk will be fine. But if we lose our barber, the fruit store on the corner or the plumber who saved us in a flood, we will have lost a piece of ourselves.”

“May We Live Long and Die Out” →


That title got your attention, didn’t it? It certainly got mine. A fascinating read about VHEMT – the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. “Taking care of the humans that are already here is a major part of VHEMT. We can take better care of those who are here by not creating more.” [If paywalled use Incognito Mode]

How Wikipedia’s volunteers became the web’s best weapon against misinformation →


A really enjoyable piece with some interesting insights into how Wikipedia managed to remain a fairly reliable and trustworthy source of information in a sea of troll-powered misinformation. “‘There’s a part of that that is encouraging, that says that a radically open, collaborative worldwide project can build one of the most trusted sites on the internet,’ says Ryan Merkley, the chief of staff at the Wikimedia Foundation. ‘There’s another piece of that that is quite sad, because it’s clear that part of being one of the most trusted sites on the internet is because everything else has collapsed around us.’”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

What you see here is made with only cardboard, glue, and toothpicks – by Greg Olijnyk.

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Digital artist TacoSauceNinja creates vibrant, captivating sceneries of fantasy worlds.

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Soo Zee makes a broth that originated from Sichuan China. This beautiful branding project turned the name (meaning 23) into “a character of many forms that represents the art of mixing 23 herbs and spices to create an authentic beef noodle soup that you won’t forget”.

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Degular is a gorgeous new sans family that comes in seven weights and three optical sizes.



Choosing colours might be the hardest thing in design. Give yourself a break with Color Ninja for Mac.

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The Week in a GIF


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