Design Culture Salon 3 – Design Activism: how does it change things?

Tuesday 26 February 1900h-2030h
Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, V&A

Jody Boehnert (EcoLabs)
Jonathan Chapman (University of Brighton)
Noel Douglas (Occupy Design)
Paul Micklethwaite (Kingston University)

Climate change, resource scarcity, economic crisis and struggles for social justice have given rise to new movements in design that seek more than creative and commercial fulfilment. What models of design practice support this? How might design work with other activist practices? What role do universities and museums have? How can design activism work with marginality?

Free, but booking is essential::

The Panel

Jody Boehnert is an environmental communicator, designer, educator and activist who lives in Brixton. She is founding director of EcoLabs (
– a non-profit studio visualising complex environmental issues and recently completed an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded PhD titled: ‘The Visual Communication of Ecological Literacy: Design, Learning and Emergent Ecological Perception’ at the University of Brighton. Her research focuses on how images work to help audiences understand complex environmental issues in order to build capacity (and agency) to respond effectively. More recently, she worked with Noel Douglas establishing Occupy Design UK, a group that aims not only to use design skills so support activism, but to use the political and cultural critiques developed by social movements to transform design.

Jonathan Chapman  is Professor of Sustainable Design at the University of Brighton. His research, teaching and consultancy seek to reveal the behavioural phenomena that shape patterns of consumption and waste. Over the past decade, his teaching, consultancy and research have grown from their early polemical and activist roots, to developing strategic counterpoints to the unsustainable character of contemporary material culture. Described in New Scientist as a ‘mover and shaker’, Professor Chapman’s work has
critical acclaim by CNN International, New Statesman, New York Times, The Independent, New Scientist and numerous features on BBC Radio 4. He has written two books; his monograph, Emotionally Durable Design: Objects, Experiences & Empathy (Earthscan, 2005) and his co-edited work, Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories: A Collection of Sustainable Design Essays (Earthscan, 2007). His sustainable design consultancy experience includes The Science Museum (UK), the London Design Festival (UK), Clarks International, FitFlop and Puma.

Noel Douglas is an artist, designer and activist whose practice is concerned with the relationship between aesthetics and politics, anti-capitalist uses of signs and graphic communication and more general themes of the privatisation and the commodification of space and popular culture. He is currently Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for the Design for Communication degree programme at the University of Bedfordshire.  He co-curated Signs of Revolt and was key to the establishment of Occupy Design UK. See also

Paul Micklethwaite  is a Senior Research Fellow in The Design School in the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture at Kingston University, UK, where he is course director of the MA Design for Development. His primary interests are in the impact of the sustainability agenda on the theory and practice of design, and emerging modes of design practice such as social innovation. He is co-author of the book Design for Sustainable Change: How design and designers can drive the sustainability agenda published by AVA Academia in 2011. Paul Micklethwaite is not a designer.

Guy Julier, chairing the Salon, is University of Brighton Principal Research Fellow in Contemporary Design at the V&A and Visiting Professor of Design Culture at the University of Southern Denmark.

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