Season 2 – Episode 01

Can We Design for Wonder
at the Clap of a Hand?

Artwork by Ionut Caras

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It doesn’t take long for our feet to wear a rut born of habit in our daily, default path. But if we’re fortunate, during any given day, something surprising startles our heart long enough to arrest the bustle and disrupt our rut. – Jeffrey

Do we have to wait for that something surprising to happen spontaneously? Or can we build the experience of awe into our daily lives?

Can we design for wonder in our work culture and for our customers, in our creative flow and for our families?

Jeffrey’s working premise for Season 2:

Wonder is not an accident. Wonder is designable.
Designing for wonder is not only possible. It is also necessary in our world of deteriorating trust.

In this Prologue episode, Jeffrey walks us through the possible dawn of awe when our ancestors developed the “irresistible urge to gaze” and defines wonder as the emotional experience of surprise that dissolves our biases. He establishes the season’s enemy – Snidely Cynicism – and its potential heroes, the Wonder-Trackers.

This season’s Wonder-Trackers include top researchers in design thinking and time-tracking, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and a video game innovator designing for stillness and contemplation; the curator of Mass MOCA Museum determined to “explode every day” and a world-renowned installation artist whose work comes out of bathroom plumbing and winds its way through neighborhoods; an expert in agile thinking for start-ups and a philosopher of the idle life; and more.

Jeffrey also previews the themes of this season by way of two stories, one of a company designing for wonder NOW via Instagram hashtags and another of the philosopher René Descartes discovering wonder THEN, in black-plague-infested 17th-century Denmark through the laughter of his daughter.

Listen in for insight around the role of wonder in facilitating radically new solutions and join the growing alliance of Wonder Trackers who choose wonder over cynicism.

You can participate in an upcoming episode by telling us how you are a Wonder Designer. See the special section below, and call in with your message.

Key Takeaways

[0:04] The definition of wonder

  • Irresistible urge to gaze, even praise (dawn of awe)
  • Emotional experience of surprise that dissolves biases
  • Central to human spirit and evolution of species

[4:05] Jeffrey’s working premise for Season 2

  • Wonder not accidental
  • Design for wonder possible, necessary
  • Create culture of wonder together

[5:37] The significance of choosing wonder over cynicism

  • Rut born of ‘daily default’ breeds cynicism
  • Startle heart long enough to disrupt status quo

[8:58] What to expect this season on Tracking Wonder

  • Top creatives, research in design experience + time shaping
  • Original people who seek insight from diverse sources

[11:44] The story of NOW

  • Negative Instagram hashtags (i.e.: #sick, #mondayblues)
  • Suja Juice shipped 6K bottles to change quality of days

[12:56] The story of THEN

  • Descartes planning trip to France in 1640
  • Daughter developed scarlet fever and died
  • Shifted focus of work to questions about being human
  • Concluded that wonder precedes all other passions

[18:06] James Baldwin’s insight on wonder

  • Fierce hope for human race despite prejudice faced
  • Prove by example that ‘life is love and wonder’
  • Nation that penalizes citizens who wonder is doomed

Caras Ionut

Caras Ionut was born in Romania in the late 70s and is currently devoted to photography. Ionut loves the things that happen around so he always has a camera to capture moments, and then turn them into dreams and positive images of what he wants. We leave you to judge for yourself and be surprised with this wonderful work.

Are you a Wonder Designer?

We’re inviting you to share with our community of listeners how you are a wonder designer this season.

​​​​​​​It’s easy and takes just 3 minutes of your time:

In 15-30 seconds or less, state your name, where you live, and your url if you wish, and state in 1-3 sentences one way you are a Wonder Designer.
Make it personal and personable. Not a pitch. Not a teaching.

For example, “Hi, Jeffrey and Tracking Wonder. My name is Abigail Madley. I live in Towanka, Washington, and you can find me online at One way I am a wonder designer is by shaping educational experiences for elders that bring them more joy and happiness in assisted living.”
“I am a wonder designer because everyday I am fostering more connection with strangers in the city where I live.”
“I am a wonder designer because I am encouraging more open listening at the startup where I work.”
“One way I am a wonder designer these days is by having my three children sing for their breakfast. It makes a hectic morning pretty funny.”​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Listen back to your submission, and when you are happy with it, click send!

​​​​​​​Your response could end up on the Tracking Wonder Podcast this season.

Sign up to receive updates on Season #2, when new episodes are released, and special guests.


Each week brings you in-depth conversations with leaders, stories from change-makers, and provocative ideas from artists and scientists – all designed to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.