Unbelievably, its summer already. The studio has been a hive of frenzied activity for the last six months, and in this post we wanted to share some of our top highlights of projects and activities.
This year we are working with governments, public sector and not-for-profit organisations where our approach found great traction and value. Currently we are working on three projects with city governments to design plausible protoypes of future visions, create meaningful models for citizen participation and making policies more legible. We partnered with Laboratorio para la Ciudad at the Mayor’s Office Mexico City, John Lynch and Gyorgyi Galik from Future Cities Catapult UK and Dan Lockton and Laura Ferrarello Royal College of Art London to research and propose methods, hacks and experiments that can make policies more legible for citizens. The team’s work has been published in the book: The Pursuit of Legible Policy: Encouraging Agency and Participation in the Complex Systems including our essay ‘Shifting the Balance‘ where we propose five design strategies for enabling systemic change in governance processes.
A quick note about couple of other ongoing projects in this space: In collaboration with Strange Telemetry, we are working with Policy Lab and Department of Transport on a project investigating the future of rail in the UK. And we are also involved in a programme of research and activity around ‘participatory smart cities‘ where we are working for the City of Eindhoven and the New Institute to develop urban cartography projects with primary school children amongst others.
Recently we were being interviewed by South Korea’s national television KBS about what sort of “technological innovations” we were working on. Jon Ardern said something that has stuck with me – “We are not innovating technology, but rather focusing on innovating the understanding of technology.”A lot of our consulting work this year has involved working with clients to design tools (physical and conceptual) that help them explore questions in a way that will bring a new understanding of an emerging technology and its wider implication on their own business, but also socially and politically. One key highlight was the project Mūtō Labs where we created a new kind of asset management platform to raise provocations about roboadvisory, big data, and blockchains. Through a series of interactive demos, dashboards and client testimonies we reimagined the changing notion of “value” in our society, and showed how future assets might be created and traded.
Our research work this year is focussing on how we can design responses to mitigate the shock of climate change. Its an urgent issue, one in which we are deeply invested. Jon Ardern is leading the work and we will share more on that front soon. For now, here’s a glimpse of the studio, which is literally buzzing with crickets and locusts, as we start building small scale prototypes alongside numerous interviews and desk research.
Some other highlights include the opportunity to show our work with BuggyAir, in Science Museum’s new show “Beyond the Lab“. Jon Flint gave a great talk around BuggyAir and our learnings at the MCE Conference in Warsaw earlier this year. The Drone Aviary project continues to travel, after being shown at the Artefact Exhibition at STUK, Digital Archives, Kunstverein Hannover, Madrid Biennale from Foundation ONCE and will continue to travel, alongwith Uninvited Guests, to Vitra Design Museum and MAK Vienna, and then to the US, for the next five years. The film ‘Drone Aviary’ has been acquired on a non-exclusive basis by ZKM Karlsruhe. Our essay on the project titled Owning the Sky: An invisible architecture of civilian drones was published in the excellent ARPA Journal’s issue ‘Instruments of Service’ which we highly recommend. Recent press features include this Evening Standard piece, an interview in the book ‘LEAP Dialogues‘, talks include a presentation at the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam, a talk at the Southbank Centre for the Power of Power festival and Rockets of India at Webstock earlier this year.
We are happy to have two new people join us for the summer: Adit, who graduated in engineering from Olin College, and Jake, who graduated from Central Saint Martins, and sad to say goodbye to our great graphic designer Cleo, who has decided to go back to University. If you are a graphic/visual designer, do get in touch! Finally, the best news: we are moving to new premises soon, and we look forward to seeing you at our studio warming party if you are local, otherwise, hope to raise a virtual toast.