January 2017-May 2019

Radical Design

A series of courses and workshops exploring speculative design as a practice to imagine what civic life might look like if we prioritized different values

Click the images below to explore student work and assignments.

Why Radical Design?

In our daily work as designers, we are limited by expectations about what kinds of futures are ‘possible’. Particularly when addressing the needs of vulnerable populations, potentially impactful proposals are often deemed ‘impossible’, not because they defy physical laws or require speculative technology, but because the social system around us prioritizes things like growth, profit, and control over things like care, cooperation, and equity. Our current prioritization of values is not eternal or inevitable, but it does have a strong grip on our imaginations. It is difficult to imagine a world where we prioritize values differently.

These Radical Design courses and workshops build on tactics from Speculative Design and Futures Studies to strengthen participant’s capacity to imagine. By designing for provocation and imagination as an end result, rather than designing to implement concepts, these practices allow designers to visualize ideas that do not fit in the world as it is. Radical Design projects strive to walk the line between utopia and dystopia, avoiding a purely positive or negative depiction of reality in order to grapple with the tensions inherent in each possibility.


The course “Radical Design: Making Civic Experiences” was offered at the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis between Spring 2017 - Spring 2019.

Workshops have been offered at:
  • Imagining America (Chicago, October 2018)
  • Creative Reaction Lab (St. Louis, June 2018)
  • Commonbound Conference, New Economy Coalition (St. Louis, June 2018)
  • Washington University AIGA (St. Louis, April 2017)
  • and as a part of other Washington University courses such as Designing Creativity and Design & Research