1 We employ a multidisciplinary ethos to our work that focuses on critical citizenship education and participation. Inspired by the popular education movement, we are interested in the design of edutainment and communication models and how we can engender learning and exchange with diverse audiences outside of established art and design institutions. For example, providing a group of teenagers at South London Gallery with a David Cameron lookalike to take over and create their own party political broadcast in the run up to the 2015 UK general election. Currently, we are revisiting Dump it on Parliament an 80’s post-punk compilation cassette produced in opposition to a proposed nuclear waste dump in Bedfordshire, inviting emerging bands today to develop cover versions and write new songs of protest.
2 Our work explores what it means to approach design as a social practice and tool to recalibrate established ideologies and aspirations. Moving beyond a traditional market driven model, we work directly in the public realm, acting in an outfacing, collaborative manner in order to create engagement and promote understanding of design’s complex role in developing political, cultural and economic systems and social structures.
We are interested in speculative design as a tool for questioning cultural products and practices and how they reflect and enforce the perspectives; values, ideas and beliefs that underpin contemporary society. For example, look at the present imperative of self-design, cultural technologies such as reality television act as civic laboratories that teach us how to monitor, improve and reinvent ourselves as empowered, entrepreneurial citizens, who take responsibility for our own welfare and do not rely on “big government”. Or, look at design’s changing role in contemporary market-orientated politics, where we have witnessed a shift from party ideology to a value-based marketing approach. Research techniques are used to identify voters’ needs and wants before a party designs their products, whether a policy, message or candidate, to create voter satisfaction.
3 The approach we have to our practice encourages re-defining or creating new roles and opportunities for social engaged design. As a result, we produce and disseminate the content we create in diverse formats: workshop programmes, documentaries, public events, live TV shows, exhibitions and touring performances. We often work on commissions from institutions; councils, schools, art organisations, galleries and festivals.