Sakura: What Future to Design?

February 23, 2017

Original music by Susanna Carman


"The Cherry Blossom or, Sakura, is a symbol of continuation of resilient life and the fragile and momentary aspect of natural beauty because Sakura flowers do not stand well against harsh natural elements like rain and wind…"


In an interview with RMIT’s Dr. Marius Foley, Transition Designer, Cameron Tonkinwise (Carnegie Mellon University), speaks about the role of visioning in modern design practice:


Design used to be about large scale visioning for the future. Contemporary design seems to lack compelling evidence of that vision. Many designers would agree that a transition toward more sustainable futures is necessary, however, what does this look like? What is a desirable future?


Tonkinwise goes on to say:

Some (design) solutions have short life-spans and are designed to become obsolete as steps toward a longer term vision. Other solutions are designed to change/evolve over long periods of time. Transition Designers look for ‘emergent possibilities’ within complex contexts.


As the Cherry Blossom season is almost upon one of the world’s most beloved visionary cities, how might Tonkinwise's views apply to the design of policy amidst increasingly complex, fragile and uncertain times? More importantly, did America’s philosophical forefathers design a system of constitutional governance that could include, “emergent possibilities within complex contexts?”

And finally, is American constitutional democracy more or less as resilient AND momentary as the Sakura trees in peak bloom lining the path from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial?


Until next time, this is Susanna Carman inviting you to consider more deeply, what is the future you are designing for? For more information about design, business and leadership, contact, or visit




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