Where The Light Gets In

October 2023

Where The Light Gets In is a Regenerative Design Field Kit, a tool designed to expand your perspective as you observe the world around you, reflect on the present, and contemplate potential futures.  They are now available to buy at artefactshop.com.

This page details out a little of where the field kit has come from, who was involved, and some ways to use it.

As a living page, it will be updated regularly as we discover more about who finds it useful and where.

What’s inside?

The Viewer

Firstly, there’s a lasercut fluorescent acrylic glass viewer, made from a 100% recycled and recyclable variant called Green Cast.

The viewer is an obliquiscope. It draws your focus to different layers of an object or situation, to see the world in new ways by asking WHAT IS THIS?

The first version of the viewer came from an experiment on the IED Innovation & Future Thing summer course I was running in. Natalie Kane came in to give the students a talk which included a section on Reading An Object, part of her work at the V&A.

Reading An Object, Natalie Kane, 2017

Later in the course, I wanted to show the students what a laser cutter could do, and how you could use it. So I took some of Natalie’s questions, and quickly made a little portable viewer to etch them onto.

The first viewer, under the Office Of Object Identification (OOOi) banner

The viewer has been an integral part of the course ever since, and I’ve made a variety of different versions for different things, including a Futures Field Kit version for UNDP.

However, I always wanted to find the right form to turn it into something to make available through artefactshop.com, and with Where The Light Gets In I found the perfect partner project for it.

Forty Questions For Our Future

In spring 2023, I started working on a project around Regenerative Triangulation, as the difference between sustainability and regenerative activities seemed to important to think about given the context. Soon I found myself in a loose collective with Lizzie Shupak, Dr Rob Phillips and Andy Thornton, discussing various aspects of the territory, and I shared with them an early idea for a collection of cards, which between us was sharpened into a well balanced, provocative set of questions.

The question cards have been generated by taking the four roles from the Design Council’s Systemic Design Framework, and pairing them with the capabilities from The RSA’s 10Cs framework.

The four roles and ten capabilities of course give you direct questions you could ask of yourself, others, a team or indeed society more broadly. They are meant to be questions which, depending on the context, can be hard to answer. That’s the point. The challenges we face today are not insignificant. These questions, taken in combination, give us much to think about, but also a great deal for the collective imagination to tackle.

How to use the field kit

There’s a simple three-step way to use the cards which is included in the box:

  • Peer through the viewer at an object or scene
  • Apply the questions to examine the present
  • Use the question cards to imagine possible futures

The main challenge to hold in mind, which you’ll find on the reverse of each question, is how do you design the healthiest environment, with the greatest economy, for all in society.

Beyond this, there are some more emerging ideas I’ll continue to capture here.

The first of these is to create a progressive quartet of questions to hold around a challenge.

Choose the most appropriate question from each of the four suits for the issue you’re looking at, and see how they come together to shine new light on the problem.

October 2023 – RCA Design Futures

On 11th October, we gave the class of the new Design Futures course at the RCA a field kit each in preparation for a further two days worth of work in November. An initial introduction to the viewer asked them to examine things just in the classroom itself, and start asking the questions on the viewer of those things, capturing these on blank Artefact Cards.

Then they had to assemble a progressive quartet of questions around each cluster, finding the perfect set of questions that would help them consider the future of these things thoroughly. This was a set-up exercise to get them using the viewer in the world, and beginning to find a project to explore for themselves.