Buckminster Fuller was a self-educated American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.
During his lifetime, Fuller passionately argued for the redesign and reinvention of society based around natural laws and the interconnectedness of all life.
He was one of the most prolific inventors of the 20th century and many of his inventions are technological and architectural solutions that can help solve climate change and transform our unsustainable energy system that underpins the global political, social and economic system.
He believed that what the world needed was a creative revolution driven by design and invention rather than a protestor-driven counter culture driven by a counter-productive mentality of resentment, entitlement and ideological thinking.
After dropping out of school, Fuller struggled for many years with his mental health and ended up in dire poverty at age 32 where he reached a breaking point and reinvented himself through self-education.
His motto became to ”experiment to find what a single individual could contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”
1. The Greatest Mind of the 20th Century?
Buckminster Fuller was certainly one of the most prolific inventors and great minds of the 20th century.
His holistic worldview and systems thinking has had a significant impact on architecture, sustainability, design and technology industries.
Incredibly, many of his best ideas and inventions are yet to be applied at scale simply because they challenge the status quo in so many disruptive ways.
2. Buckminster Fuller: Everything I Know
You watch the full interviews series on the YouTube playlist here.
Buckminster Fuller Quotes:
Here are some of my favorite Buckminster Fuller quotes:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
“When working on a problem, I never think about beauty; I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know that it is wrong.”
“Everything you’ve learned in school as ‘obvious’ becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.”
“Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.”
“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
“The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it’s a different kind of life.”
“I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuity. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.”
“When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I’ve been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That’s a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we’re in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.”
“It is essential that anyone reading this book know at the outset that the author is apolitical. I was convinced in 1927 that humanity’s most fundamental survival problems could never be solved by politics.”
“Only the free-wheeling artist-explorer, non-academic, scientist-philosopher, mechanic, economist-poet who has never waited for patron-starting and accrediting of his co-ordinate capabilities holds the prime initiative today.”