Unknown Origins

Cameron Tonkinwise on Transition Design

October 21, 2021 Cameron Tonkinwise Season 1 Episode 81
Unknown Origins
Cameron Tonkinwise on Transition Design
Show Notes Transcript

Professor Cameron Tonkinwise is an international expert in design studies and transition design and the Research Director of the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS. Cameron provides a perspective on creativity and how to apply transition design and the creative process to solve pressing societal issues to navigate breakthrough solutions and change.

He writes and speaks extensively on the power of design to drive systems-level change to achieve more sustainable and equitable futures. Cameron has long advocated for Design Studies and their importance in ensuring the social responsibility of design professionals. 

More recently, Cameron has emerged as a leading voice in Transition Design due to his long-standing research and teaching around Sustainable Design. 

Learn more about how to create without frontiers by unleashing your creative power by getting the book: 

Creativity Without Frontiers available in print, digital, and audio at all relevant book retailers.

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Music by Iain Mutch 

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Roy Sharples:

Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, welcome to the Unknown Origins podcast. Why are you listening to this podcast? Are you seeking inspiration? An industry expert looking for insights, or growing your career? I created the Unknown Origins podcast to provide access to insights and content from creators worldwide with inspirational conversations and storytelling, about art, architecture, design, entrepreneurship, fashion, film, music, and pop culture. Professor Cameron Tonkinwise, is an international expert in design studies on transition design, and the research director of the design Innovation Research Center at UTSA. He writes and speaks extensively on the power of design to drive systems level change, to achieve more sustainable and equitable futures. Common has long advocated for design studies and their importance and ensuring the social responsibility of design professionals. has expertise has reshaped traditional thinking around how designers should be educated. He has established design studies programs at the Parsons the new school for design in New York, Carnegie Mellon University, and UT s, which have transformed international design curricula. He has written many influential articles on design thinking, design, ethics, design, research, and speculative design. More recently, Cameron has emerged as a leading voice and transitioned design due to his long standing research and teaching around sustainable design. Hello, and welcome, Cameron, what inspired and attracted you to transition design in the first place,

Cameron Tonkinwise:

I might need to just throw back a bit and say, I have a background in philosophy. And I sort of was trained in the era of a lot of talk about great paradigm shifts that kind of fucked Odeon archaeology shifting from one version of humanity to another version of humanity. And and a lot of the philosophy that I was trained in was really about the job of philosophy is to change the institution of knowledge, make whole new types of environments for researching and teaching, that we can change everything by changing the way we research and teach. And so, you know, I sort of grew up as it were thinking that the job was to make large level systems change. through that kind of history, I was involved in a lot of ecological politics, and then started studying with Tony fryer, and suddenly fries a design theorist to his very extreme in terms of his sense of just how much of a crisis questions of sustainability are, and therefore very extreme on the fact that everything every single thing must change. And that every everything about the way we do things at the moment, is contributing to to de futuring to taking our future way to being unsustainable. So I sort of grew up in this paradigm shifting world. And then I was very much working with a design theorist on really significant levels of change. And so I spent all of my career trying to find mechanisms for for undertaking systems change to see how designers could help make large scale change. And that was a really particular version of sort of creativity. It's it's not trying to find something around expression. It's not trying to find something innovative. It's trying to find change mechanisms. And so when I had the great opportunity to go to Carnegie Mellon's and headhunted by Dario and who are self had been brought back from having studied deep ecology at Schumacher college, and was brought back to to really make a big difference to one of the leading design schools in the world. I got to work with her and her partner, Gideon Kossoff, and we started talking about ways of codifying design based approaches to affecting transitions in societal systems, how to transition us out of a carbon intensive economy to a decarbonized society, how to move from globalized supply chains to re localizing how to move from ownership society to one more based on Commons and sharing economies. And so we began to call this transition design. So it was a very particular moment in which we were trying to identify how to change design education, so that designers Would not just be inputting creative solutions to current problems into the existing paradigm. But instead always be solving current problems with a view to how to change whole aspects about mudjacking is sociotechnical regime the way in which our society is kind of locked into current ways of living and working. And the way in which designers as they make these human scale interventions, the level of interactions, everyday practices, they can actually help stitch together, large scale change, sort of switch points, phase change, in which the whole system begins to change and reorder itself and restructure. So transition design was very much that that ambition, it's not a method, it's not a, it's not a thing. It's an aspiration, to redirect the creative practices of designers to the project of coordinated societal change, rather than just feeding into existing situation.

Roy Sharples:

Before delving into the domain, I must add, as a communicator, you have an authentic power of voice, and a gift for language, where you have a playful wit and inventiveness with words, which sparks a connection to the imagination. And that's a ray of talent.

Cameron Tonkinwise:

That's very lovely to hear, as I say, I mean, this sort of way, I'm, I think of myself as quite an unreflective person. So I don't spend the time sort of thinking about what I'm doing and how I'm doing which is which is sort of rude and and I have the privilege of being able to do that, you know, just quite unreflectively cruising through life. But as I sort of tried to indicate this, then I have been pleasantly surprised by people coming in and saying saying something like you just said, like, yeah, there is, there is a translation capacity. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I used to get one of the one of the first teachers I ever had at university was a woman called Liz gross, who's a sort of feminist poststructuralist. teacher. She was at Sydney University at the time now, right? Because extraordinarily famous now. And I had this incredible privilege of learning with her and so I kind of left school and gone to university had no idea about philosophy and had no idea about the kind of revolution that was occurring under post structuralism and you know, what's badly named as kind of the postmodern turn that was happening at that time. So these were like really heavy philosophic concepts. And, and I do remember almost within three or four weeks of sitting in us, a subject she was running called psychoanalysis and feminism, that I did another subject with her called body and philosophy. And she had this incredible lucidity, this incredible ability to translate from some of the most difficult work, you know, people, people who are just vilified as being obscurantist. She just had this incredible ability to, to translate. So I have this very conscious effort and very conscious memory of sitting there thinking, wow, I want to be that I want to be a translator like but as I said, I was never reflective enough to sit in those classes and think I wonder how she's doing it, I should learn how to do it. I just feel very lucky when people do respondents say, you've managed to fulfill that ambition even if you didn't, in any concerted way work out how to do

Roy Sharples:

So there you have it - you've just invented some words there! Which takes me to the vintage classic zone of the satire, surreal and black comedy humor of Monty Python and also the British sitcom style of wreck mail and Ben Elton!

Cameron Tonkinwise:

Those are words right is that the references you're drawing on? Are are as much as they might be politically incorrect these days are what I was growing up thinking I'm so so to be it to have it suggested that I have elements of those which is quite flattering. I I should say, I ay my primary love is his words. I love it apology. I love concepts. I love verbalization. And as I grew up in that period, in which philosophy was done continental philosophy, not not Anglo American analytic philosophy, continental philosophy was done through that kind of wordplay. You know, I was schooled as a debater at school and I was doing theater at university I was directing crazy plays by the East German post Brechtian playwright Heiner moolah, so, so that lineage is certainly there. You know, there were there were moments in which I'm embarrassed to say I wanted to be an actor, but then realize that if you actually want a permanent audience, you shouldn't become a teacher, they have to turn up, you can just, you know, entertain them once a week, whether they like it or not. But lectures are very out of fashion these days. So in a weird way, if you if you actually put in a successful act to become a lecture based teacher, yeah, so so so what you're saying certainly chimes, with with me,

Roy Sharples:

What is your creative process in terms of how do you make the invisible visible, by dreaming up ideas, developing them into concepts, and then bringing them to actualization?

Cameron Tonkinwise:

As someone who was trained in philosophy, that's a bit of a pretentious thing to say, let's say, half trained in a kind of half baked version of philosophy, I certainly couldn't call myself a philosopher. But as somebody who went through that undergraduate and postgraduate training, I think I approach things with a very strong conceptual lens. And I don't mean, think abstractly, I like to characterize this more as kind of mid level categories, which is an idea that's come out of some design researchers and design theorists, I do tend to find that I think, in a very mid category level way, and what I mean is that if I'm in a situation, if I'm talking to a research partner, or a client on a particular problem that we're bringing social service design to, they will be very fixated on their current situation. And I'm always surprised at myself at my ability, or surprised at the reaction of people to my ability to just lift them out of those current circumstances and begin to see the conceptual frame that they're currently in. And then I have a very, I mean, as a, as somebody who's quite academic, quite philosophically trained, I have an absolute commitment to reading, reading widely. Although again, reading is a strong term, I think these days, it's mostly just scanning. And so I think a crucial part of a lot of what I'm hesitant to call creative, but what is possibly part of my creative process is having a very broad base of experiences, precedents, knowledge, concepts to draw on. So in situations in which I'm kind of have this habit of mid level, categorizing what people are kind of doing and saying, that sounds like it's this sort of thing that sounds like it could be thought of as this, noticing their existing conceptual frames, I then tend to have, I'm sounding a little too self assured about this. And so I just need to clarify that I'm describing it as I go, I tend to have a capacity to draw on a wide knowledge base to then offer them alternative conceptual frames. So definitely, I've noticed that people find that a value of the way in which I interact with those types of problems. So it's, it's this funny habit to not hear exactly what are the circumstances right here and now their dominant dominating sort of present conditions, but instead to sort of start to hear where that's coming from, to kind of analyze it, to be able to locate it, to put it into context. And then to compare it with a fairly broad breadth of other contexts. And to that extent, I suppose I've always thought that if I had to characterize my creative process that I might use, I think it's more I don't remember Arthur Kessler, time kind of talking about concepts of by association, that creativity is putting two notions together, rather than coming up authentically with a whole new Third thing. So I think I'm I'm quite adept at that kind of conceptual blending. And certainly find that that's my the way I proceed. And so the last piece, I might say about my credit processes, I mean, I am, I am a teacher, I think that's my core practice my core design practices is, I think, being able to discern where students at any level are coming from, and to know, things that I'm trying to explain to them. And then to be able to blend those two environments that kind of conceptual blending that cursor idea of by association, sort of to blend them so that people can actually shift from where they currently are to coming to understand a new concept and operating the world in a different way. So yeah, I do have a feeling that I've a very teacherly research early academic version of a creative process, but it's, it hasn't. It's always odd to me how much people outside of academia but even some students appreciate She ate, being lifted not to philosophic levels of abstraction, but just to to be able to see working concepts. But our bread called a crude thinking, which again would be quite nice to think I was doing crude thinking, I think slightly pretentious title. And then I might say one last thing, which is, you know, I, I am known for being horribly critical about everything. It came from working with Tony frei for a long time and being very critical of everything sort of being oriented towards unsustainability. It came from working and teaching in design schools aware, the way in which new ideas are developed is through crit. So I exist in a world, which celebrates as productive criticism. I think most places outside design schools and design studios find criticism to be boring and divisive, and really part of a partisan ship, which is ripping our societies apart. I think, I think there is something creative that comes from a type of criticality. Obviously, if you're just wholly critical and cynical, you alienate everybody and you, you fail to come up with anything constructive. But the whole purpose of design is is constructive crit. And so I'm never seeing a really terrible book once that tried to very and creatively fuse, creative and critical together, I think the title of the book was create to quality, create a quality like criticality and create together. And it was a very stupid concept, which definitely didn't do what it was trying to say. But I just mentioned it now. Because I do think when you have a kind of permanent, disgruntled, pneus, that things could be better, the quality of things is not quite where they are, that society could be reorganized, that there are other ways of living, that it kind of forces you into a permanent state of creativity, that you're whenever you read something you're thinking, is that is that where I want to go? Is that something what might be an unanticipated consequence. So I do want to take the opportunity to say I think criticality is absolutely essential to a creative process. It's certainly it's certainly key to mine. And again, when I first started teaching in design, and being exposed to create, again, I don't want to blow my own trumpet too much. But it was always odd to me how much students and colleagues appreciated the way I created, which, you know, on Twitter sounds horrible. I sound like a horrible person. But supposedly I have heard in studios, it's a very constructive way of helping people reframe where they're going. And so I think a lot of my creative process is critic based, a lot of it is teaching oriented. And a lot of it sort of is based on this sort of philosophical legacy, which is my my pretentious past.

Roy Sharples:

Creativity is the ability to make the invisible visible by taking what is not to create ways, and it manifests what's inside you and around you, by transcending the obvious, ordinary and routine, embracing originality and making unique connections between disparate universes past and present, to weight the way into the future, and new ways, unlike you clearly stated, rejecting the conventions and constantly analyze and question and challenge the status quo and the everyday life and provide an alternative, which means infusing your imagination taste stale, and inherent messiness, with within our desperation and persistence by swimming courageously against the tide in search of the authentic and new, while Steven off false promises of easy gratification and immediate success, and a world saturated with consumer led celebrity culture, or everyone looks the same, and everything is for sale. What are the key skills needed to survive and thrive as a transition designer?

Cameron Tonkinwise:

I think one of the first things we always try to emphasize about transition design is that it's vision led designing. So design in the 20th century was vision LED, these were kind of modernist utopias very much coming out of a restricted set of people, they were quite individually dreamed up and they were imposed on people whether they liked them or not. So modernism, literally destroying your house, and then replacing it with a liquid was a machine for living. So it used to be vision LED, and we realized the mistake about that, about having very limited input into those visions and those visions sort of being ill informed in terms of their rationality and imposed in ways that didn't allow them to be so well adapted to. So I think one of the consequences is that a lot of the creative professions Non non art creative professions have become extraordinarily timid, and cowardly and scared to, to dream and fantasize, I always spend a lot of time saying to students, how many of you fantasize Now many of you Daydream. And obviously don't mean that any kind of lewd way. I mean, literally, in that old sense of doodling you, topia and landscapes or imagining different ways of living or building, you know, social fiction, what john tacrine likes to call social fiction, so that you pull away from the sort of techno side of science fiction. So more in the logwin style of just imagining, what would it mean if, if every household had had two couples in it, which is a linguine scenario, for example, instead of just a single couple in a kind of heterosexist way. And I'm always surprised that students design students don't do that anymore. That kind of vision, particularly male vision of boys who became car designers, and they just used to spend their time, doodling different kinds of concept cars, I'm always surprised that designers Don't, don't tend to do that young designers don't tend to do that so much. And I think it's very fashionable to imagine dystopian futures, it's, it's totally out of fashion, to, to go out in the public and say, I think we should live this way. I really think we should live this way, I'm going to convince people I'm going to, I'm going to, you know, nail my flag to this, this vision, this this way of going forward. It's very cool to do that. It's obviously very neoliberal to just imagine you can't predict and who knows, and this weird kind of sense that the future is going to be better than anything you could ever imagine when in fact, it keeps on turning out to be worse. So so that that version of visioning, I think, is a really important skill that we try to re cultivate. Again, even just in the way I describe it, then it has not a good palette, we have very cliched versions of what the pictures of the future look like they, they look like a kind of semi suburban agrarian utopia of people living at peace with animals, we have photo montage as in architecture, you know, we have line arts, illustrations from science fiction novels, or we have black mirror, I mean, we just both a content in the form of how we vision as a society, I feel is bankrupts. There's a real deficit in in both form and content. So one of the crucial skills to be a transition designer is is having a commitment and bravery to identifying powerful futures that that you would like to share with others and convince them of valuable and having a wide palette of ways of representing them. Along with that goes a really odd conundrum. There's an odd conundrum in being a transition designer in that you have to be forceful, you have to be aggressive, you have to be fighting against the status quo, you need to be saying, Do not be satisfied with the minor pleasures that the current system gives you do not tolerate the pains that you are told unnecessary. I want to bring you on a journey that there is something else. And so you have to be quite forceful, as I said, sort of brave. And yet on the other hand, once you have people with you, you have to be incredibly, I don't like the word humble, but you need to hold space for diversity, you need to hold space for people getting hold of your vision and beginning to modify it and make it their own. So it's this weird combination of being a lot more forceful than I think a lot of designers or some, some design leaders have giant egos and able to be very forceful. But a lot of designers I think, who are more creative, tend to spend their time sheltered. They, they got into design to, to sit at a desk drawing, or these days to sit at multiple screens, moving things around. And they like that environment, that sort of quiet version of creativity. And unfortunately, transition designers in particular, spend a lot of time talking to people and convincing people and arguing with people and trying to enlist people and enroll people. It's a political organizing activity. And the creativity is in that the creativity is in the teaching and the translating and the bringing along and that's not that's not a mindset, though, I hate that word. That's not a disposition an orientation of a lot of people to get into design. And, and so I think yeah, that last thing is there has to be a much more collective sense of action amongst transition design. And it's very crucial that transition designers not go with hero narratives, that they spend a lot of time understanding that they do this piece because somebody else is doing that piece and they are both equally important and they will both fail if either doesn't succeed. So being a designer who is part of an alliance or network, or who's committed to kind of setting values and acting in that collective collective fashion, again, things that almost no design school teachers, things that aren't in the current sort of worldview, or, or way of being in the world of people who are attracted to design. So transition design tries to change design, but it's also trying to change designers and to some extent, it's trying to open up design to other types of people who might use the material craft means of design to begin doing this type of this type of transition change this type of collective action towards preferable futures,

Roy Sharples:

Excellent perspectives Cameron, and you triggered some thoughts... We all exist in time, which is a progression from the past, into the future, moving in one direction, and design as a vehicle for time and social change, that interconnects society, entertainment, politics, fashion and technology, which translates into popular culture. So practices, beliefs and rituals prevalent in society at any given point in time. And popular culture expresses society's shared experiences and is a function of what society consumes through entertainment, through the clothes we wear, fashion, politics and, and the technology that we use, and are exposed to take the 1970s for example, that was an era that was typically categorized as being as having a rapid pace of societal change and a gala terian society with diversity and broad ranging styles and tastes, for example, the socio cultural movements like punk that had a distinct anti establishment and, and left wing political views, promoting individual freedom and do it yourself ethics, and stylized within bondage trousers, tone, cut clothing, and Mohican hairdos. And then on the other side, you had the glam rock movement, which was a reaction to the rock mainstream, manifested through stopping rhythms and androgynous stick imagery and futuristic clothing. And there was multiple other movements like like disco and, and northern soul, and many other socio cultural activities kind of going on during that era. But perhaps, the drug induced hallucinogenics from the free living, bohemian hippie movement of the 60s, transmitted itself into an evolved form that manifested its way through those or inspired those kind of movements, and either directly or indirectly. Anyway, the point being was that these were unnerving times with a lot of societal unrest, which created these subcultures that emerged from the societies that was used almost as a vehicle, the campaign against the establishment the status quo. And so the artists, designers, and the creatives, really stupid took a stand against these oppressive forces, and applied that through their artistic expression without fear of retaliation. Whereas today, especially in the Western world, perhaps things are to copy on to uniform, at least at the surface level. But hey, make no mistake, I'm not forgetting about the pressing, enormous issues that need addressed today, for example, climate change, and the global environmental movement extinction rebellion, which was founded a few years ago to campaign against governments to address climate change and biodiversity loss, and to mitigate the risk of ecological and social, the makes, but it seems the Western world in particular, is more stabilized and conservative in that way, as opposed to what some generations had to deal with. And the adversity that they encountered previously. The one thing I would add to, to that, that, that, that that moment, which I think is totally rightly characterized, that there was a diversity of style, just even style, obviously a diversity of ideas, that and that doesn't exist and so there, there definitely does seem to have been a closing down of what is considered to be designerly. What is considered to be elegant, we've done Haven't really moved into a much less diverse kind of aesthetic realm. But I think the other thing that I would characterize about that period in the 70s, in addition to to various cultural experiments, which might have included, you know, hallucinogenic substances opening the mind to other possibilities, which is oddly coming back now, but more as a kind of palliative care strategy. We don't have good healthcare. So why don't you take some solid simpanan just like, yeah, deal with your doom. But I think that period was also the period of, of globalization, it was also the period of, sort of second third waves of migration, and new types of migration, not just from Empire, within Empire. But so I think a lot of the diversity that we saw in certain countries, particularly North Atlantic countries, in that period, also came from the internationalization. What's happened is that we now live post that internationalization in which the styles of the products and ways of living of the global consumer class have removed that diversity and replaced it with a sameness so that I can live in the same way in Sydney, Nairobi or Shenzhen, you know, I can go to the same shops, and my houses look the same and ate the same food and my clothes at the same. Whereas I think it's always important to remember in the 70s, I mean, there, there were shocks of different types of people beginning to move down the streets as you move down the streets. There were waves of immigration in various countries, obviously, prior to that, but it was a, it's difficult to put yourself in the mindset, I think of somebody living in the 1970s, having come from very homogenous societies in the 50s, even with their existing sort of immigration waves, then encountering just completely different ways of living and being exposed to it. So it was it was, it's always important to remember that the period of globalization was a period of exposure to different efforts before capital got in there, and just turned it all into the same looking product. Upon reflection. What are your lessons learned, in terms of the pitfalls to avoid, and the keys to success that you can share with aspiring transition design practitioners?

Cameron Tonkinwise:

One must not underestimate the forces that exists to hold the current situation in place. And those forces are sometimes evil, greedy capitalists, and renters and landlords, they're sometimes literally people, individuals, you can identify who are making ill informed decisions that benefit themselves and not everybody. But there is also structures, there are also inertias, there are infrastructures, there are material conditions, that condition us, it's always quite nice in German, that kind of this is a point made by a design theorist called villain flow, so that the same word for thing is within the word condition that you are conditioned by things. So it's always important when trying to inspire people to be transitioned designs to inspire people to sort of lend their creativity to the project of systems level change. It's always important to inspire them and and as I said before, really like get them imagining strongly and diversely in ways that I feel have, have disappeared a little but, but it's important also to give them a strong education in just how inertial the current system is. And for them to begin to see all the little things that hold, hold the current in place. So those are often economic, you know, you gone and get an education so that you can make a change, and it cost a fortune and you're indebted. So you take a job to pay off the debt. And then you suddenly find yourself addicted to that salary. And that way of life, you sort of literally structure yourself into mortgages, or rent in expensive cosmopolitan cities and follow the model of raising your family and then then all of a sudden, you're kind of stuck. And the reason you invested in the education is never able to be action. So I think there are those economic things you need to take into account. But there's also this sense that you get addicted to the satisfiers that are given to you. And one of the primary ones actually think is his work. One of the things I'm trying to think about a little moment is the people who who work for a big consultancy that might be informing a fossil fuel company will do really creative work. And we'll put together a report that allows that fossil fuel company to fudge how it's responding to something like climate change and maintain their profitability and That person goes home and doesn't think on awful and sallied for having done something I don't believe they think I worked really hard, I was really productive. I did something incredible today I, I saw through a really difficult political situation. So what I'm trying to say is getting people to notice when they get addicted to particular types of satisfies particularly the way organizations and corporations, structure satisfiers for employees and workers, is the key thing to notice. So that you don't get react to the status quo and can maintain a sense that other ways of living are possible. And so continue to work on the project of something like transition design. So I think one of the pitfalls that that I'm always sort of trying to get people to just notice is that it's, I don't want to characterize it as a laziness, or, you know, people just giving up by kind of hopeless cynicism, I think it's reversed. I think it's important to kind of empathize and say, people making de futuring decisions, don't do it. Because they're evil, they do it because they feel really productive at work. When they do it. There are people lending their creativity, to maintaining business as usual. And they are clever and smart. And they go home thinking that that was a great often they don't go home, because I love their work so much. You just keep going. And they sit there and thinking this is this is this is what life is I am I am. I'm killing it right now, with all the irony of that phrase. So yeah, I do want to sort of draw attention to the fact that it, it's you have to be one way I've tried to put it one point, sorry, I'm rambling a bit is creative alienation, it's important to try to always be alienated from the situation you meet. So even when it's, you know, she sent me Hi, just died yesterday. So I'll use his term flow. Even when you're in the flow state, you're totally like, it's a nice set of combination of challenging skills, and you feel like, time doesn't exist, because you're just absorbed in it. Great, that's good. But really important to have forces that alienate you from that. But say, why was that slow? Why were you getting that satisfied? Is that is that heading in the right direction? How else should you be working? So you need critical friends you need you need critical colleagues, you need critical contexts, you need things that can strange you, as better breath you to say to a stranger from recurrent conditions, so that you avoid this kind of pitfall. So I think it's important, you've got to keep challenging yourself, you've got to, you've got to try and be slightly uncomfortable. And not only in a flow state. Even if you think you're a transitioned design unit, you need to maintain that, that level of of wondering whether you are having unanticipated consequences. Yeah, so sorry, it was a convoluted point. But it's not really self criticality, because I don't want people to be disciplining themselves, like franconian subjects. But it's a matter of always wondering whether you are being yoked into the existing system, again, because of the pleasures that derives and not insignificant pleasures. They're not, they're not the consumer goods of turning on the television and eating, drinking an artisanal beer. There, they the existential pleasures of I am doing a good job. And it's how to be alienated from.

Roy Sharples:

Your spot on again, Cameron! Never sell out! Like I said earlier, constantly analyze and challenge the status quo to provide an alternative that is authentically creative, and moves the world forward, in a positive way. Tilting forward, what's your vision for the future of transition design, and where do you see the role of creativity play?

Cameron Tonkinwise:

So I think I'd answer this in two different ways. I think in the short term in the way in which I've been chatting to you, it's, it's hyper ambitious. It's a vision of a union of creatives, acting in a coordinated fashion to find disparate initiatives that can be connected and related so that they begin to enable a systems level transition or a switch point or a phase change in our society. So it's a vision of sort of really ambitious people who are who are who are risking risking relationships to partners and clients by saying no, buy really forcefully pushing for one thing and not another and then really creative people thinking well, I'll say yes to this, but only because I've got a friend here and another friend there. No I know I do. This. So if we both do it for this client or partner, and they're doing their client partners, and we all together do a speculative project, another project or a community organizing project, we do this fourth thing, those four things together are going to begin to sort of orient society, they're going to begin to make change. So So I have this, this, this vision and hope that people educated with with transition design begin to, to act as a coordinated set of chain, loosely coordinated, loosely coupled set of change agents who are, who are working all the time connecting and talking about what they're doing, and what else needs to be done. People who pursue who are pursuing the project of change, and not just a series of clients and partners, so people who take clients and partners, because it will help their project, not because the client or partner just turned up. So so people who really have a sense of mission and vision, and a working coordinate, so have this one mid term vision of, of really collective action, coordinate, loosely coordinated collective action by by, by particularly creative designers engaged in strategic design. But I have a slightly ambiguous second longer term vision, which is a world in which people are not having to work so hard to change. The idea of transitions is not that we're in a permanent state of transition, it's the idea that it is a moment of phase change. It's a moment in which the interconnected system that held the current in place, everything about it changes it reorganizes and then we settle, not forever, it's not a historical it will have its own challenges. But for a while it settles and and that was the way that kind of 20th century settled, the obviously with lots of terrible things like holocausts and genocides occurring and an enormous amount of environmental destruction. But everyday life settled into a pattern of living people in houses, with kitchens, going to schools and getting jobs. And it was unsustainable, but it was a pattern of sustained existence that people tolerate and celebrated and satisfied. I'm I'm looking forward to that future of resettling on the other side of the transition, and that would be a moment in which I am hoping many more people are doing much more creative activities at the small scale, not coordinated large scale recreation of society. But people engaged in in disparate diverse activities. Because life has settled into some kind of transition. So I, it's a, it's a weird kind of vision, because I don't want it to be feel like some a historical utopia, like everything settled down. And I, you know, as Marx famously said, You know, I do some fishing in the morning, and I make some bread in the afternoon, and then I paint in the evening. Those weren't his examples. But I don't want that though. It's a version of that it is a sense that people are working less. People are not in jobs, people are doing projects. It's, you know, I'm just, I'm just in the middle of rereading Ursula gwynns, the dispossessed. So it's exactly like the utopia she describes, like people taking jobs for different periods in their life, doing what's needed.

Unknown:

So I don't want it to be a historical, I want to have a sense, but it's not perfect. But it is a moment in which people are settling. So to some extent, I would almost say, given your kind of interesting creativity, what I'm what I'm hoping is that a period of coordinated, forceful creativity for change is what will get us to a society in which we can all be more quietly and interestingly, in small collectives, creative again, in ways that we don't get to be now. So it's so hard to kind of have a side gig or a hobby, or some community organizing or doing some, some cultivation of a new skill, so hard to do that now because we're such a 24 seven existence. So I want to get to a world in which sort of creativity with a small sea, everyday creativity, creativity by everyone I want, I have a vision that that that's where transition design will get us to transition design will affect the transition, and then we'll be able to enjoy the other side of it. They won't be perfect. There'll be lots of challenges. Still, it won't be equitable will will still be having to think about different things. It will still have a history, but it definitely will give us more time to be more creative than we get to be now.

Roy Sharples:

Thank you, Cameron. That prospect is exciting! But just how soon is the future? One thing for sure is the future is unwritten and everything is possible. Do you want to learn more about how to create without frontiers by unleashing your creative power? Then consider getting

"Creativity Without Frontiers:

How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future." It's available in print, digital and audio on all relevant retail book platforms. You have been listening to the Unknown Origins podcast. Please follow subscribe, rate and review us. For more information go to unknownorigins.com Thank ou for listening