David Trubridge Floral lights in Radisson Blu hotel Uppsala, photo Doos Architects.

We all know that nature is good for us and science has recently provided proof. If you can see trees in your daily life you are more likely to be generous and community minded. If all you can see is concrete then you are more concerned with your own status and wealth. Patients recover more rapidly from surgery in hospital rooms with windows overlooking nature. And from the Japanese tradition of shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing, we know that trees also improve our physical well-being. In my public talks I have attributed this to our millions of years of primate development spent…


The sun rises over the Pacific Ocean.

A red sun peeps over the horizon as I grab a hasty breakfast before wheeling my plywood paddle board down to the sea. I am not a natural early riser but it is worth it today as the open Pacific ocean is still and windless. I head out towards the sun, then turn and paddle north about 3kms up the coast in the perfect conditions. I am pushing into a remnant wave and my sharp bow lifts over and dips into the water, a neat ripple arrowing out on each side. …


The new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar

I recently visited the new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar, built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus. It was a moment in which to reflect on the influence of this school and its relevance today.

Timing is everything: in 1919 the Bauhaus was born in Weimar under Walter Gropius, in the aftermath of the devastating madness of World War 1. With all the values of the 19th century washed away in blood, it could have been a new slate wiped clean. But immediately after the war there was an understandable period of nostalgia for stability. Maybe…


I am camped at about 2700 feet amongst dwarf spruce somewhere in the open centre of Alaska. A rain shower passes and the air becomes quite still — a silence that fills space and sucks me into it. I listen to the trees: “You can come if you wish, you can go, it doesn’t matter to us. We will always be here, standing tall and still. You can’t hear our heartbeat, we have no urgency to gulp air. We just stand here today, tomorrow, yesterday, always the same. If you cut us we will be gone, if you disease us…


Coffee story #1
The cafe opens directly onto a narrow street. There is just room for a tiny table and bar stool between the cars and the wall. I sit with an espresso doppio and a brioche and watch, sharing my table with a large full ashtray.

A woman Polizia Locale with a white cap and cute pony tail stands in a junction waving cars past, which they would do anyway.

Two Guardia di Finanza men in grey uniforms, army boots and berets, with guns in holsters, lean on the bonnet of their car talking to a woman. They pour…


Three Otago Landscapes by Colin McCahon

In a beautiful piece for New Zealand Geographic, Kennedy Warne writes about his feeling for the land, how one day he was surprised to find tears welling up in his eyes as he sat by Lake Taupo. He noted how when he first started up the magazine it was as a factual scientific journal. But over the following 30 years things have changed in our attitude to the land. In New Zealand, some of this can be attributed to a growing sensitivity to Māori values, but also to the dawning realisation that the western “transactional” attitude to the land is…


The subject of inspiration fascinates me and I can’t let it go yet . . .

The distracting surface of the sea tells you nothing of its depths.

Inspiration generally means stimulus, that which drives one to create. But that makes me passive, subject to an external force; as if a subatomic particle whooshing through space pinged into my brain and set off a chain reaction. I do not believe in this idea of random particle strike, even if it is only a metaphor. Inspiration is largely internal not external. Yes you have to wait for it, but you have to do this inside your own head.

Then the question becomes, to…


David speaking at Puerto de Ideas in Valparaiso, Chile 2017.

You have been asked to give a presentation, your first time. It can be scary, but also infinitely rewarding. Sadly, too often I see some appalling attempts, so to avoid being one of them I offer here three basic rules:

1. Never read from a script. You might as well just print a hand-out to give to the audience, then sit down while they read it. If you read you are looking down and making no contact with the audience. Also — and this is really important — written language is quite different to spoken language; it is harder to…


Trackless land in the wilderness.

Q: “Where do you get your inspiration from?”

A: “The collective consciousness of subterranean elves”.

This (grammatically dodgy) question is guaranteed to be included in every Question-and-Answer feature put to designers. It has come to irk me and I can’t help giving my flippant answer. I know the query is put with genuine curiosity but the asking betrays a limited understanding of the creative process. It’s the old idea of the artist’s “Muse”, who invariably used to be portrayed as beautiful and female.

This is an attempt, not so much to answer that trivial question, but to explain how I…


I recently spent two days exploring the ancient Khmer temples around Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Angkor Wat itself is the largest and most recent complex in the area, which is strewn with temples from about 1000 years ago. It was the first one I went to and it was not a good experience. The combination of scorching heat and packed crowds had me running, horrified, for shelter. The curse of World Heritage status! But what disturbed me more was the subliminal message this place is imparting to the eager bus loads of mostly Chinese tourists.

I had made the visit…

David Trubridge

David is an international artist/designer/craftsman born in Britain. In the 80s he sailed to New Zealand with his young family on a yacht where they live still.

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