By Cyndi Dawes.
Unless you are a landscape gardener, an excavator or a child who loves collecting and throwing rocks and stones, it’s unlikely that you consider stone as an element much in your daily life or work. As designers and problem solvers, they don’t feature prominently in our work.
Yet, stone is what sustains life on this planet. Tyson Yunkaporta in his book, Sandtalk, quotes Max, a young Tasmanian Aboriginal boy:
“Stone teaches us that we should be strong. No matter what tries to crack us or wear us down, keeping an unbreakable core through your culture and your beliefs. The majority of the earth is rock, and while water and plants makes up the surface, the body of the earth, the part that keeps it all together, is rock. You can have life and creation but it will all crumble without a solid base, same with society, companies, relationships, identities, knowledge almost anything both tangible and intangible.”
What is the ‘stone’ in our lives; when seeking to solve a problem or design something new with others, what is that solid base without which nothing else can thrive? Looking for the strong foundation in our work might unearth shared values, mindsets, connections, infrastructure or something else. Our recent changes as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic in which we have lost access to lots of the things we thought we needed to do our work, has helped us at Huddle learn that our stone is not all those things. Instead it’s our self maintaining culture which we build through our own deep allegiance to it and one another which in turn creates a great sense of adaptability. This sits at our deep centre and is what allows our work and us to flourish.
Stones also exist across deep time. Think of all the stored energy and knowledge of a stone. What has it seen, what does it know? If we apply this thinking to our work as designers and ask ourselves, “Why is the stone here and what deep knowledge over time does it have that we can learn from?”. Sometimes in our quest to learn new things and be innovative we can overlook that which has stood the test of time.
Stones, like humans and systems are not immutable. Over time they can crack and erode; tiny constant pressures, rains and winds can transform stone. In our work, can we search for the low and constant external force that could erode our deep centre? Is it erosion or is it transformation? Can we design in recognition of that?
Paying attention to what lies at the deep core of our selves and the work we do might take time, but it ensures we understand the strong foundations that enable us and our work to thrive.