When the ARCADE Editorial Committee began discussing potential themes for the magazine’s 30th anniversary volume, we settled on the concept of less. Today, at a time when the global economy and climate change have defined a new world, what are the implications for the manner in which architects, designers and artists communicate, practice, educate and live? In the last issue we addressed communication. This quarter we present a handful of ideas about how better to practice—now and always.

The last several years have caused us all to reconsider not only what we do, but how we do it. During this time, I personally witnessed and was affected by the confounding impact of an uncertain present and future caused by the recession; I also observed and experienced singular expressions of humanity and creativity inspired by these same circumstances.

While the economy may be improving, the future of professional environments remains tenuous, and many practitioners remain cautious. We cannot know what the future holds, but one thing we can be certain of is that moving forward we must practice with more efficiency, including consuming and creating less stuff and using and degrading less space. Most importantly, we must not be afraid to take creative risks, as creative fear is as paralyzing as economic fear and very often results in conservative thinking. Clearly, we need innovative ideas now more than ever. We need to embrace the power of design to create a better world.

In this quarter’s feature are some ideas that exemplify innovative ways of thinking and practicing, including an explication of the immeasurable importance of the design professions; why a sustainable future for our cities must comprise a firm ecological awareness and environmental ethics; the value of investing time and resources to feed creativity; the benefits of a mutually supported business strategy; and jumping fences—reinvent how you do what you do.

And remember what IDEO’s Tim Brown said: “It’s not an either/or, it’s an and. You can be serious and play.” Maintaining a playful sensibility feeds creative solutions, promotes a flexible mind and helps to inspire a sense of optimism.

Let us know what you think.