GO INTO REPAIR MODE

We’ve spent centuries thinking about our planet – and each other – from an extractive, ‘dig and gig’ standpoint. It’s a mindset that sees our natural world and its inhabitants as “resources to use up and then discard”– and it has left us with a legacy of devastating climate crisis and rampant social inequality.

Building a better future is about more than just blue sky thinking: it calls for an entire paradigm shift. For the status quo to change, we need a collective turn towards what writer and activist Naomi Klein has described as a ‘care and repair’ ethos. We must urgently move into a society-wide repair mode, argues Klein, in order to mitigate the damage: It is our collective duty ”to repair our relationship with the earth and with one another.”

This responsibility is not just the reserve of politicians and activists. Klein points to the pivotal role that artists played in the remaking of society in the New Deal era. Through both realist and utopian art, the writers, photographers, and painters of the time helped to render a new vision of the world: one rooted in a deep sense of connection to our planet, and to all of those with whom we share it.

Smiley has always been a beacon for defiant optimism.

At this crucial moment in history, we are inspiring people to imagine, reflect, and manifest better futures.

In collaboration with author Phoebe Lovatt and a diverse array of visual artists we are sharing visions, thoughts, and philosophies on the future in an effort to inspire people with more positivity, creativity, and brighter, big-picture ideas.

Welcome to the #SmileyFutureProject.

Words by Phoebe Lovatt
Artwork by @SelfCareVisuals

SPACE IS THE PLACE

“The impossible attracts me,” said the legendary musician Sun-Ra, “because everything possible has been done and the world didn’t change.” A father of Afrofuturist thought, Sun-Ra used his music, poetry, and philosophical musings to articulate a vision of another way of life…on a different kind of planet. Life on Earth as we know it had become untenable, Ra felt, and so he recorded more than two hundred albums of experimental jazz – sometimes known as ‘space music’ – to provide a soundtrack for extra-terrestrial transcendence.

Sun-Ra passed away in 1993, but his visions are more vital than ever. As we navigate a planet that is still ruled by the oppressive power structures he spent his life reimagining, Ra’s intellectual and creative legacy provides both solace and inspiration. Fusing Ancient Egyptology with futuristic insights, Sun-Ra created an aesthetic and an ideology that continues to influence people the world over. Through his sublime musical explorations, Sun-Ra (and his Arkestra) offered a portal by which to escape our earthly confines, and enter an entirely new universe of sound.

Smiley has always been a beacon for defiant optimism.

At this crucial moment in history, we are inspiring people to imagine, reflect, and manifest better futures.

In collaboration with author Phoebe Lovatt and a diverse array of visual artists we are sharing visions, thoughts, and philosophies on the future in an effort to inspire people with more positivity, creativity, and brighter, big-picture ideas.

Welcome to the #SmileyFutureProject.

Words by Phoebe Lovatt
Artwork by Wekaforé Jibril

Further Listening/Viewing:
Space is The Place (1974) – Film and accompanying soundtrack.

ALL SYSTEMS CHANGE

New problems cannot be solved with old ideas. The challenges of our time are intricate and interwoven, and they demand solutions that recognise this reality. As the visionary architect Buckmister Fuller once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Enter Systems Thinking: a model for contemporary problem-solving. It’s a mindset that moves away from the linear approach that has dominated for many decades, and shifts towards a circular way of seeing our changing world. Systems Thinking emphasises synthesis over analysis; relationships over isolation; interconnectedness over disconnection.

By looking at the world with a systems-based mindset, we are able to identify blind spots and address problems as they emerge (rather than attempting to deal with the symptoms). By doing this, we can begin to make the changes that will lead to the far-reaching change our society requires. As another great visionary thinker, Angela Davis, once said: “Radical simply means grasping things at the root.”

Smiley has always been a beacon for defiant optimism.

At this crucial moment in history, we are inspiring people to imagine, reflect, and manifest better futures.

In collaboration with author Phoebe Lovatt and a diverse array of visual artists we are sharing visions, thoughts, and philosophies on the future in an effort to inspire people with more positivity, creativity, and brighter, big-picture ideas.

Welcome to the #SmileyFutureProject.

Words by Phoebe Lovatt
Artwork by the Smiley Design Team

TAKE YOUR PLEASURE SERIOUSLY

TAKE YOUR PLEASURE SERIOUSLY

The designers Charles and Ray Eames were almost as famous for their personal maxims as they were for their iconic chairs: Learn by Doing. Design is for living. Innovate as a last resort. And – perhaps most importantly of all – Take your pleasure seriously. In the Eames’ eyes, taking your pleasure seriously was less about lazing around on a sunlounger (although life should always include some of that) and more about making room to pursue your true interests and passions with focused dedication. The husband-and-wife design duo were extremely discerning about the projects they accepted, and remained committed to bringing a sense of exploratory playfulness to everything they did.

As we emerge into our new world, we should all spend some time thinking about the space we make for pleasure on a day-to-day basis. How much of our time is taken up by things we do out of a sense of obligation, even when neither the process nor the results make us feel particularly great? What would your work (and life) look like if you adopted a ‘pleasure-first’ philosophy? In a world that equates self-denial with self-mastery, reorienting our lives around the things that bring us joy feels like a radical act.

Smiley has always been a beacon for defiant optimism.

At this crucial moment in history, we are inspiring people to imagine, reflect, and manifest better futures.

In collaboration with author Phoebe Lovatt and a diverse array of visual artists we are sharing visions, thoughts, and philosophies on the future in an effort to inspire people with more positivity, creativity, and brighter, big-picture ideas.

Welcome to the #SmileyFutureProject.

Words by Phoebe Lovatt
Artwork by Wekaforé Jibril