Thoughts, notes and references for ‘Space Cannot be the Place’ poster at SSiC 2020

I’ve been working on my poster for the Space Science in Context conference. This is the first time I’ve ever presented a poster, and done so at a virtual conference so I’m doubly intrigued how this will go down.

As it’s been a while since I’ve had close proximity with research in either Physics or hardware/software, I thought I might as well stick to what I know and critically discuss programs such as the 100 year Starship, which I chose almost as a retrospective; it had been a topic of a talk given by Erik Steinskog at the 2017 AfroFutures_UK conference where it was analysed as an embodiment of the AfroFuturist paradigm being a multi-disciplinary enterprise, dedicated to taking humanity to the stars, all while being headed by a Black woman, Mae Jemison (a legit hero of mine) no less.

However, in the time since then, in some ways it has been as any and all of these great sounding exercises are. The why was beyond the scope of my poster but I thought I could do some credit to a material analysis of why these exercises of liberal reparations can be problematic.

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Service Design in Heritage Day 2

Friday was the final day of the Service Design in Heritage workshops hosted by the Life Rewired Hub at the Barbican.

We once again started off with the ideation session but this time during the mapping data workshop, we were able to try creating a hypothesised user journey and associating touchpoints with different parts of the organisation. It was a really interesting contrast with yesterday’s mapping data workshop where we focussed on taking a deep dive into the structure and associated data. Personally I think it shows the difference that the nature of the ‘How might we…?’ challenge makes. Even though many of the challenges had similarities in concern, the nuances that were added through the ideation process can result in quite significant differences to the nature of the project (something that is totally the norm from a complex systems perspective!)

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Service Design in Heritage day 1

See, I’m getting better at this insta-documenting lark!

Today was the first iteration of Service Design in [Arts, Culture &] Heritage workshop(s), held at the Barbican Arts Centre in the Life Rewired Hub. Borne out of some great conversations with Kristen Alfaro about common difficulties with designing holistic, inclusive services when working in a Cultural institution – be it a museum, an art gallery/space etc – the goal is to introduce some service design techniques and approaches and providing a space for participants to learn by doing.

Thanks to lessons learned from previous workshops e.g. at Wild Conference, this was split into two workshops, partly to give people more options but also because even doing half a design jam is still quite intense!


Session 1 focussed on collaborative ideation techniques; session 2 on data/insights mapping and introduction to prototyping.

Much like the neo-mmanwu workshop, the structure was half a presentation type lecture sort of thing and half actually trying out the particular methods that would be used at that point of the design process.

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Wild conference workshop: The co-designed city


This was a workshop hosted at the 2019 Wild Conference which had several goals:

  1. Spread awareness of service design methods to generate ideas and work collaboratively with the community, people from different areas of expertise and departments
  2. Raise questions about how smart cities are developed from a heritage and culture perspective
  3. Raise design questions to be focussed on in broader research regarding community led design practice for smart cities


Part design jam, part hackathon, part improvised performance, this session is a space to explore and prototype the future city, a place where pervasive computing meets social justice; a built environment which puts inclusion and sustainability at the heart of its digital and physical architecture.

As increasingly complex digital and physical infrastructure are developed to support our needs, who gets a say in how they get designed and implemented? What happens when techno-optimism meets the realities of social inequalities? How can we work as designers, technologists, activists and organisers to continually advocate for the needs and perspectives of the people most likely to be ignored and what are the challenges we face in doing so? Following collaborative design practice as we ideate and prototype, test and iterate, the workshop will be an opportunity to learn techniques for generating and embedding community centred requirements, testing at scale and sharing skills with the people we might think we’re designing for.

Will we find a way to the co-designed city of the future? Join us and find out!

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Birmingham Design Festival: Even if we’re all doomed, can we try and design better?

This was a workshop hosted at the 2019 Birmingham Design Festival to:

  1. Spread awareness about using ethical frameworks to better understand the requirements needs of all actors working in a system to ensure ethical design practice
  2. Add to learnings about difficulties faced by designers to work in an ethical manner


Designers are increasingly aware of practices such as inclusive and speculative design in response to the pressing concerns or our time such as systemic oppression, algorithmic injustice, environmental impact and how designers can better acknowledge our role, whether in perpetuating or addressing these issues.

However, it might be easy to talk about radical shifts in practice, but what does all this stuff mean in the day-to-day? Whether a designer-of-one or part of an established consultancy, it can still feel we are barely touching the surface of the platforms we’re designing for and are still under siege from competing business priorities, yet alone be able to meet the demands of ethical and sustainable design practice.

Part design jam, part collaborative learning session, this workshop aimed at designers of all levels, will take you through the steps to create an inclusive design ethics framework and provide a space where we can link up and organise our respective collectives (and selves!) to support each other and take action towards a holistically ethical design practice within our individual contexts.

Original link for reference


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Black Futures Conference: Reconfiguring community led smart city design through the Black Quantum Futurist framework

I was really honoured to be part of the Black Futures conference held on 31st May 2019. Here is a link to the video. A transcript of the talk is available below.


As the infrastructure for the smart city of the future is being laid, is it possible to combine insights from community led and indigenous design approaches to counter the examples of historic and contemporary architectural racism and thus provide a strategy for survival in massively connected networks?

Created by Camae Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips, the Black Quantum Futurist (BQF) framework provides a means to collapse linear time, bringing futurities to the present through communally generated artefacts. In this talk, we will explore how using the BQF framework to incorporate communally generated environmental memory and requirements-space into the design process can be a method for generating equitable and robust futurities of the built environment.

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From the Woman who walked to the Golden Canopy, decentering collections of natural history through comics

As part of the Applied Comics network conference on 28th March, I have a talk on the work that’s been done by the digital content team at the Natural History Museum, exploring new media for sharing ‘untold’ stories about the collection and the many and varied, fascinating people who contributed.


How do we tell the untold stories of the Natural History Museum? The challenge to make collections more accessible to a wider range of people has led to an experimentation with different media to reach out to an ever increasing digital audience but also shift perceptions for our physical visitors. This talk will explore how comics are being used to explore new perspectives and hidden stories of the Museum’s collection, revealing as much about institutions as they do its history.

The slides from my talk can be viewed at this link.



Applied Comics Network

Image credit: Natural History Museum and Sammy Boras

Museum Engagement as Speculative Design Symposium Proposal conference: Considering futurities beyond the anthropocene through decolonising narratives of natural history collections


The natural history museum provides a unique opportunity to engage people with concepts that are intrinsically associated with commonly depicted futurities in the realm of science fiction and critical design. As a field, natural history is able to demonstrate that the planet we inhabit has been an alien world more than once in its past and will most likely be so again in its future. 

Based on findings from a collaboratively designed guided tour of the refurbished Hintze Hall with a following zine making and discussion workshop at the Natural History Museum of London, this talk will consider how artefacts created by participants, when analysed within framework of Black Quantum Futurism, indicate how an exploration of humanity’s self-inflicted environmental alienation via a decolonialist perspective on the history of the collection, is capable of self-generating small scale futurities in human-environmental relations.

The slides are embedded below and speakers notes are visible.

You can also watch a video of me presenting this slide deck at the conference 🙂

STIR magazine launch: Of countermemories and recursive futurities

I was invited to speak at the launch of STIR magazine’s new edition on the 14th. It was great getting to chat interesting stuff with folk doing some fantastic stuff in the area of speculative design, history of tech and critical approaches.

Below is the transcript of my talk.

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Mozfest 2018: The co-designed city; building smart cities with embedded social justice

A sign telling people when the workshop would start (it started at 11am)

For Mozfest 2018, I decided to go a little deeper on the topic of smart cities. The first workshop I ever facilitated there had been on the topic of pervasive computing which has many intersections with smart cities but now I wanted to explore some of the outcomes a bit further.

I am still a bit obsessed with this whole question of approaches to designing complex systems and design jams allow me to explore that. Plus it means I get to better understand the issues that come up with collaborative approaches instead of… just lecturing people.



The session will be structured as a design jam where participants go through the user centred creation process to prototype features for (or even an entire) smart city which puts intersectionality at the heart of its digital and physical architecture.

Combining methods inspired by critical design and community centred practice and traditional Igbo masquerade (mmanwu) performance, we will start by ideating based on not only issues but also existing solutions we see in our own contexts, then perform light ethnography amongst fellow Mozfest attendees and the local community before getting down to prototyping our solutions through cardboard, code and post-its!

Following an iterative design and test process, we will end up with prototypes of a human+environment centred smart city.


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