Material Thinking

We’re a lab for analogical thinking, we specialize in place applications. We see the connections, the poetic affiliations that bind places and people together. We understand the work of imagination, how it creates shared senses of belonging and underwrites investment of every kind. We are experts in mobilising metaphors to help communities narrate themselves with fresh hope.

Creative communities are frustrated by centralized planning. They understand local knowledge as complex, forming and situational. They are fed up with being marginalized in the planning process. They are also dispirited by the lack of attention paid to the inter-connectedness of things, reciprocities, cooperativeness – and what comes from these, care.

We emphasise telling. Cultural heritage flows into cultural production when received stories are retold tellingly; and both materialize as patterns, arrangements and friendly places when they are brought into the common place of public planning. Telling: relating. Places that relate, internally and externally, are regions. We think the world is regions all the way down: inter-regional communication is about giving value to travel, about translation, trauma, hope and loss.

The old model of community, closed, ideologically consensual, defined by long residence, has to be abandoned – not to homelessness but to a new understanding of place that is built out of exchange rates, translations, meetings, passages and cycles. The new meeting place fuses physical communication and communications technologies; there is an intensification of sociability, but also responsibility. To be a global citizen is also to be a local knowledge citizen.

We talk about the art of dynamically peopling place. Talking, walking – they are part of the choreography of place-making. But different places draw us in different directions, exercise their own subtle magnetic charge. Good places are composed of promising approaches. They are full of drama.

So we find it natural to work with dancers, animators, film-makers as well as landscape architects, architects and urban planners. In fact, one of our skills is to bring these different specialities together and to envision and deliver new forms of place design.

Founded in 2007, Material Thinking goes on re-inventing itself. We dream with those who employ our services – and we deliver richly endowed and affirming creative designs (public art, storied landscapes, place-based websites, creative briefs) across different media.   We believe that the might have been’s are just the future waiting to happen.