A Design School, designed by us all, designed for us all

November 19, 2019

This year I have been a resident of the V&A. As the embedded ‘Design-thinker in Residence, I set up an alternative design school inside the London Design Festival – a school built and run collectively; a school built on questions about an unknowable future.

The Collective Design School

It is called CollectiveDesign.School. It’s an experiment to seek out the people and the ways to build a design education that might better meet the messy challenges of all of our different futures. Over the nine days of LDF we took over a space inside one of the V&A’s galleries. Every day a different group of people occupied the space to host learning experiences that developed a new type of collective curriculum.

The curriculum was built on eight pillars:

  • Collectivism – Because together people are kinder, more generous, more accountable and more capable.
  • Activism – Because the world needs more of us to care about, and act against, injustice.
  • Ambiguity – Because we don’t live in a simple, binary, rational and catagorisable world. So why insist on creating one?
  • Self-critique – Because maybe we’re not good enough, and we never have been
  • Authenticity – Because truth and trust matter a lot.
  • Mischief – Just because
    Growth – Because people, places and situations change, but we limit growth through definitive judgments.
  • Hospitality – Because we are all responsible for generously holding space open for each other, whether we like each other or not.
Pillars for the Core Curriculum

These pillars have been created through time spent with people in different parts of the world who are deploying their creativity in provocative, useful and systemically transformative ways. Often, these people do not use the word ‘design’ to describe their work.

As I come to the end of my residency, I will share some of the research that underpinned the design school in a small series of blogs. For now, take a look at the CollectiveDesign.School website to explore the generative curriculum and resources that were built over nine days.

V&A mediation
2 comments so far, view or add yours


The global structure is a step forward when any design concept is included. Every 24 hours we all pass the same point as the rest of the world. When we sleep others wake, so we are all connected.

On a more obscure point, I haven’t yet worked out whether clouds travel quite fast or the speed the earth spins is the real movement of the cloud formations. ?

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