Designers are increasingly becoming post-disciplinary actors that wield enormous power in shaping the world's technological, environmental, cultural, and socio-political reality. However, the acknowledgement of design responsibilities has not caught up with the expansive roles that designers occupy, resulting in an unclear mode of design that is complicit in upholding systems of inequality.
The next decade will present various complex and existential challenges unlike anything before, from environmental breakdown to the erasure of privacy, potentially amplifying and producing new inequalities. Designers are uniquely positioned to mitigate against these challenges; however, few frameworks afford designers the appropriate knowledge and tools to do so.
This project presents Distributive Agency, a metatheoretical design framework that reimagines how designers can collectively work towards shared goals of equity and pluralism - shifting away from current consumer-focused and profit-driven design practices. The paper demonstrates the value of foresight analysis and speculative ideation methods paired with academic knowledge transfer to envision detailed futures. Interviews with design academics (n=3) and a cross-sectional workshop study (n=8) validated the implementation of the framework through the design process tools and manifesto, showing that they are practical, contextual, and visionary in their approach.
The research in this project serves as a first step in transitioning away from current dystopian trajectories, and insights reveal the scope for the further development of resources and the theorisation of a unified design framework.
(Manifesto coming soon)Read the full paper