Designing Radical Futures:


a design research practice about imagining and building within alternative social structures.




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Join the mailing list at this link for occasional updates and get in touch at designradicalfutures@gmail.com



Photo by Becca Leffell


Hi! I’m Alix.


I am interested in how designers can work outside of capitalist and punitive systems to help build liberatory futures. This is currently an independent scholarship and practice, building on development through a teaching fellowship at Washington University and graduate work in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons. It builds on my experience as a researcher working with human-centered and participatory design since 2010, from learning about diabetic patients’ experiences with glucose monitoring, to watching small business owners ship packages, to connecting financial and legal advising services for NYC residents applying for citizenship. In addition to developing courses and workshops around Radical Design, I also teach courses on design research and strategic design. I currently live in New York and work with the Design & Innovation Group at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.



Currently investigating:

How have activists created liberatory infrastructures outside the status quo? (e.g. processes, norms, tools and technologies that enable mutual aid, transformative justice, solidarity economies, etc.)

How do activists make choices about operational issues while focusing on enacting defined values and visions? How is this different from a ‘designerly’ approach to the same challenge?

Can a participatory design approach be useful within these alternative structures? How can designers unlearn and release attachments related to industrialization and development in order to participate in communal self-determination?


 

– EDUCATION –

MFA Transdisciplinary Design. The New School, Parsons School of Design, 2016.

BS Design and Environmental Analysis. Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, 2011.


– TEACHING –

Part-time Faculty
The New School, Parsons School of Design, 2019-present

Louis D. Beaumont Visiting Assistant Professor
Washington University in St. Louis, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, 2017-2019


– PUBLICATIONS –

“Participatory Speculation: Futures of Public Safety”, Participatory Design Conference, Hasselt, Belgium, August 2018

“Radical Futures: Designing for Fundamental Change”, Touchpoint, the Journal of Service Design, October 2018



– WORKSHOPS, PUBLIC CONVERSATIONS & LECTURES –

“Designing for Self-Determination: Making Futures Without Policing” with Shana Agid [presentation], Universidad de los Andes, Colombia /virtual, July 2020

“Designing for Self-Determination: Making Futures Without Policing” with Christine Hegel [workshop] Participatory Design Conference, Manizales, Colombia /virtual, June 2020

“Speculative Design + Designing for Justice + Design Research with Alix Gerber” [podcast] Hosted by Dawan Stanford, Design Thinking 101, June 2019

“Designing Radical Futures” [presentation & panel discussion] Dwelling in the Future: Imagining Tomorrow's City, Museum of the City of New York, New York, June 2019

“Design, Research & Synthesis” [presentation and workshop] Colorado State University, Fort Collins, November 2018

“Radical Design for Speculative Futures” [workshop] Imagining America, Chicago, October 2018

“Participatory Speculation: Futures of Public Safety”, [presentation] Participatory Design Conference, Hasselt, Belgium, August 2018

“Radical Design” [workshop] Creative Reaction Lab, St. Louis, June 2018

“Radical Design for Speculative Futures” [workshop] Commonbound conference, New Economy Coalition, St. Louis, June 2018

“How to Talk to People: Facilitating for Design” with Annemarie Spitz and Liz Kramer [presentation and workshop] Design Futures, Public Interest Design Student Leadership Forum, Detroit, May 2018

“Participatory Speculation” [presentation] Louis D. Beaumont lecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University, St. Louis, November 2017

“Futures of Public Safety” [workshop] Center for Social Empowerment, Ferguson, November 2017

“Designing Political Alternatives” [workshop] Washington University AIGA, St. Louis, April 2017

“Listening & Framing: Designing Civic Experiences” [presentation] Louis D. Beaumont lecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University, St. Louis, March 2017

“Elasticity in Public Services” with Kit Lykketoft and Hefen Wong [workshop] Verge NYC, Parsons School of Desgin, New York, February 2016

“Design Research Techniques” [short course] School of Design Strategies Bootcamp, Parsons School of Design, New York, August 2015