The Product of Design

Notes and references from The Product of Design, UX London 2024.

First up, the slides. I’ll replace this with the actual talk film once that’s been put together.

But have a scroll through at your leisure until then:


Now, links and rabbit holes…

Feel free to connect on LinkedIn, sign up to the newsletter, follow on Instagram. Hello, it’s nice to meet you.

The two physical tools I showed, The Obliquiscope and the Regenerative Design Field Kit are available now at artefactshop.com, alongside various other resources.

There were a whole series of rabbit holes in the talk too, and so this is the place to pursue those. I’ve tried to keep them in order, as per the slides.

Firstly, Metadesign for Murph was the original talk at dConstruct 2015 – watch that here:


Just for fun, a random music link. “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” is of course from Macbeth, but I’ve most recently been made aware of its potency in a single by Yard Act. Voiced by the actor David Thewlis, nonetheless.


The Design in 2040 project by Lucy Kimbell came along just at the right time – we were invited to see three studios created by teams of brilliant young designers working with scenarios created by Lucy from her ongoing research. Get in touch with Lucy if you’d be interested in knowing more, or can offer placements to the young designers who did a bang-up job of bringing the scenarios to life.

Design in 2040 – Credits
Project lead/scenarios Lucy Kimbell
Creative producer Liam Green
Studio designers
Sense Make: Derk Ringers and Isseya Thierry
AvantGreen: Ellen Cahill and Daniel Ivan Jimenez Prieto
National Design Service, Southwark Studio: Liz Ebengo and Bhairavi Yogasivam
Film Adam Razvi
Audio Anna Z Papadimitriou
Graphic identity Amandine Forest-Aguié
Produced by the Policy Futures Studio, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London


The futures model on Slide 22 is another of the Smithery tools called Assemblage Space. There’s a background blog post about it here, or I’ve talked about it here at a conference called Stories4Policy:


Thanks to Matilda Agace of the Design Council and Josefina Mas of IIPP for the ongoing share of ideas around the work of the Green Skills transition required by design. I have a longer version of this presentation which would include much more of what we discussed, but in the interests of time I’ve concentrated on a key angle. Read the Green Skills Gap Report here.


For the original presentation, I used the Metadesigners.org resource, and talked with some key folks in the community. There is a more recent publication, Metadesigning: Designing in the Anthropocene which I’ve not read yet, but it is on my list to do so soon.


Information is light, not liquid came out of a lockdown research project, and there’s a longer blog post about it here.


Zenko Mapping is a super-useful tool in many regards. The simplest explanation for it is here.


Dan Hill’s mapping of Strategic Design is really useful, I think, and he talks about it here in this introduction to Strategic Design – I saw him recently and it’s been updated again, so keep an eye out for future versions.


Bruno Latour’s A Cautious Prometheus? has been recommended to me again lately by Andy Thornton and Dave Gray, and I cannot recommend it enough to you to read in 2024 as you define your design practice for the next decade.


My post on Rewilding a New Build Garden is here, though of course it needn’t just be new build gardens you think about when examining your surroundings and working at a systemic level.


And finally, The Steps Collective is committed to exploring regenerative practice in various experiments this year, and we’d love you to join us. Sign up here if you are interested.


In conversations afterwards at the conference, I had some great expansions on different points with people, about other things which didn’t make it into the half hour talk.

One of these things I promised I’d put up here – The Community Power Compass, based off The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber & David Wengrow, but centred on bringing together the power dynamics of building communities. The introduction is here, followed by a how to use it post, and a work-in-progress update on a canvas version.