Michiel Schwarz

Futures thinker, cultural consultant and ‘sustainism’ initiator

"Sustainism" ("a new word for a new world" —NRC Handelsblad) has been the central concept behind most of his cultural projects over the last decade. The word was launched in a book he created with Joost Elffers: Sustainism Is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era (New York, DAP/Distributed Art Publishers, New York). http://www.sustainism.com. In visual-graphic form, this manifesto brings together many of the themes and issues central to his work over the last twenty-five years, from technological culture to social design, from the culture of cities to sustainable futures.  

The Sustainism manifesto has been widely cited and was reviewed a.o. in The New York Times. Tim Brown (CEO and chairman of IDEO design consultancy, California, USA) about our sustainist manifesto: "Sustainism will drive the creativity of the 21st century". The word "sustainism" has now been used in more than twenty countries. Michiels's favourite is "sostenismo" in both Italian and Spanish.

Over the last ten years, Sustainism has provided the conceptual frame for Michiel's "research agenda". It has led —among others — to a series of books and publications, including Sustainist Design Guide: How sharing, localism, connectedness and proportionality are creating a new agenda for social design (with Diana Krabbendam; BIS Publishers), Meer Straatwaarden: Erfgoedmaken als engagement (with Riemer Knoop and others, on engagement in urban heritage-making; published by Amsterdam University of the Arts/Reinwardt Academy), A Sustainist Lexicon (Architecture & Natura Publishers) and Future is a verb: From future shock to future-making (commissioned by Waag Futurelab, Amsterdam).

More about his background:
Trained as a sociologist of technology (University of London, PhD) much of Michiel's work has been concerned with how technology shapes culture, and how that affects our future(s). Over the last decades his commisioned research, writing and consultancies typically have focused on the crossovers between different domains: culture, technology, design, social change, urbanism and sustainability. As an advisor, producer and curator, he has initiated (public) projects on cultural change, innovation, design, media & cultural policy, information society, urban placemaking and sustainable futures.

Together with Diana Krabbendam and Jan van Tiel, Michiel is one of the original co-founders of The Beach (2006) the Amsterdam-based social design hub fostering ‘creative innovation’ with and in community.