Designing Transitions: Socio-Material Move-Making—Cameron Tonkinwise (Medea Talks #25)

CAMERON TONKINWISE is the Director of Design Studies at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. On November 26, he will talk about how designers must understand their role as enablers of systems-changes.

When: Wed, Nov 26 at 13-15
Where: Medea studio, Östra Varvsg. 11, Malmö (map)
Whom: Everyone, but please sign up!

Designing Transitions: Socio-Material Move-Making
Designers have tended to respond to situations with new ‘things’. Whilst there is a recognition that these designs are not the perfect solution, there must be a sense of them being completed, at least for now. The situations our societies are increasingly in demand that instead designers understand their role as enablers of systems-changes.

Cameron Tonkinwise in workshop. Credit Flickr user Lindebornt CC:BY-ND.
Cameron Tonkinwise in workshop. Credit Flickr user Lindebornt CC:BY-ND.

This involves a different attitude toward designs, and so a different process of designing, one that is – as Allan Chochinov describes it – ‘in the consequences business.’ Transition Designs are evaluated on their capacity to shift the conditions of a system so that they can afford new possibilities. These more strategic forms of designing however are no less material. They trade on the fact that what has been missing from social change and systems thinking to date is a practical understanding of the agency of material things.

About Cameron Tonkinwise
Cameron Tonkinwise is the Director of Design Studies at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He also directs the School of Design’s Doctoral research program. Cameron has extensive experience with practice-based design research, having supervised and examined reflective practice and artifact-based research projects and written about the epistemologies particular to this kind of work.

Cameron has a background in philosophy and continues to research what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies, and sociologies of technology. His primary area of research is sustainable design. In particular, he focuses on the design of systems that lower societal materials intensity, primarily by decoupling use and ownership – in other words, systems of shared use. Cameron has published a range of articles on the role of design, and in particular, service design, in the promotion of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption.

Book release: Making Futures
This Medea Talk is held in conjunction with the release of the book Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy, edited and co-authored by researchers associated with Medea and the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University.