Professor Cameron Tonkinwise is an international expert in Design Studies and Transition Design and the head of the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS. He writes and speaks extensively on the power of design to drive systems-level change to achieve more sustainable and equitable futures.
Cameron‘s expertise in the field of Design Studies has reshaped traditional thinking around how designers should be educated, and he has established Design Studies programs at the Parsons The New School of Design (New York), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and UTS, among others, that have transformed international design curricula. He has written a number of influential articles on design thinking, design ethics and speculative critical design.
More recently, Cameron has emerged as a leading voice in the field of Transition Design, as part of his long-standing research and teaching around Sustainable Design. He was an early champion of the sharing economy while taking over the leadership of the EcoDesign Foundation from its founder, Tony Fry. This expertise shapes Cameron’s work at the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS, which has a focus on multidisciplinary social and service design research. Under Cameron’s leadership, the research team now incorporates a transition design focus into their projects, tackling immediate, organisation-specific design challenges while simultaneously addressing the underlying systemic issues that cause these challenges to occur. Current work includes projects to help Australian banks transition toward more inclusive services and even act on behalf of vulnerable community members suffering financial abuse, and projects to help energy providers better understand how to design changes in everyday household life that will enable more sustainable distributed energy systems.
Cameron is a highly sought-after speaker at academic and industry conferences and events: among others, he has delivered invited keynote addresses at NorDes, LeanAgile Scotland, the Australian Design Research Conference, AgileAustralia, and Media Architecture Biennale. He has been on the editorial board of of Design Philosophy Papers since 2003 and Design and Culture since 2009; he is also a regular reviewer of articles for Design Studies and book manuscripts for Bloomsbury.
Can supervise: YES
Design for Social Innovation
Philosophy of Technology
Willis, A & Tonkinwise, C 1998, Timber in Context: A Guide to Sustainable Use, Construction Information Systems Limited, Sydney.
Timber in Context demystifies the debate about the harvesting of timber and its use for construction. This balanced guide (NATSPEC Guide 3) will help specifiers make informed decisions about the selection and sustainable use of timber based on the application, the anticipated life span and the nature of the project. The properties of more than 50 timber species are tabulated and timber use in Sydney 2000 Olympics projects is discussed.
Tonkinwise, C 2019, 'Design's (Dis)orders: Mediating Systems-Level Transition Design', Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Diseño y Comunicación, vol. 73, pp. 85-96.View/Download from: Publisher's site
El Diseño para la Transición requiere un tipo diferente de diseñador, uno que no esté sujeto a los mismos tipos de motivaciones y satisfactores que han regido al diseño durante el último siglo. Este capítulo articula la psicología de los Diseñadores para la Transición mientras luchan por un cambio rápido a nivel de sistema. Como resultado, el quid del Diseño para la Transición emerge como una práctica de mediación material en el cambio estructural a través del tiempo y de colaboraciones en red. La cura para la megalomanía y el perfeccionismo del diseñador modernista radica en aprender a "lidiar con el problema".
Tonkinwise, C 2016, '"Designing in an Era of Xenophobia"', The Radical Designist, vol. 6.
The Anthropocene acknowledges that the volume of designed things is now harming the sustainability of the ecosystems on which current ways of living depend. As a result, there is an urgent need for us to do things differently. But how differently? The history of the idea of ecology has involved putting limits on tolerable diversity. For this reason, ecological politics can be compatible with anti-immigration politics. This article argues instead for a critical diversity, one that can counter the current Proactionary Imperative, which extols high risk but potentially high return, radical technological responses to our societies' unsustainability. That critical diversity would embrace designing for migration between connected slow, local, communities.
Tonkinwise, C 2016, 'Committing to the Political Values of Post-Thing-Centered Designing (Teaching Designers How to Design How to Live Collaboratively)', Design and Culture, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 139-154.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Tonkinwise, C 2016, 'Failing to Sense the Future: From Design to the Proactionary Test Drive', SOCIAL RESEARCH, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 597-624.
Tonkinwise, C 2014, 'How We Intend to Future: Review of Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming', Design Philosophy Papers, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 169-187.View/Download from: Publisher's site
a debate with the co-author Cameron Tonkinwise of Carnegie Mellon University, USA, as to the ontological acumen of art versus design.
Tonkinwise, C 2011, 'Only a God Can Save Us – Or at Least a Good Story: I ♥ Sustainability (because necessity no longer has agency)', Design Philosophy Papers, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 69-80.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Tonkinwise, C 2004, 'Ethics by Design or the Ethos of Things', Design Philosophy Papers, vol. 2, pp. 1-14.
Tonkinwise, C 2004, 'Is Design Finished? Dematerialisation and Changing Things', Design Philosophy Papers, vol. 3, pp. 1-16.
Tonkinwise, C 2003, 'Beauty-In-Use', Design Philosophy Papers, vol. 2, pp. 1-6.
Tonkinwise, C 2019, 'I prefer not to: Anti-progressive designing' in Undesign: Critical Practices at the Intersection of Art and Design, Routledge, USA, pp. 74-84.
© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Gretchen Coombs, Andrew McNamara, Gavin Sade; individual chapters, the contributors. Though designing is cast as a creative practice, materializing preferable ways of being, it does so only by destroying current products, habits and values. I argue that designers must learn to acknowledge and take responsibility for this destructive side to their practice. Designers can cultivate their destructive capacities and deploy those against all that is unsustainable about current societies. However, to do so also entails challenging prevalent notions that what is preferable is progress, advancement beyond how things were done before. Instead, I argue that the most creatively destructive thing designers can do is work to restore previous, more sustainable ways of living and working
Tonkinwise, C 2018, '"Concerning Relations in the City: Designing Relational Services in Sharing Economies"' in Vaughan, L (ed), Designing Cultures of Care, Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 189-202.
This book aims to provide readers - both academics and practitioners - with insights into the possibilities and challenges of designing cultures of care.
Tonkinwise, C 2018, 'The Magic that is Design' in Fisher, T & Gamman, L (eds), Tricky Design The Ethics of Things, Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 81-100.
Tonkinwise, C 2017, '"The Practically Living Weight of Convenient Things"' in Atzmon, L & Boradkar, P (eds), Encountering Things: Design and Theories of ThingsA, Bloomsbury, London, pp. 47-58.
Tonkinwise, C 2017, 'Post Normal Design Research: The Role of Practice-based Research in an Era of Neoliberalism' in Vaughan, L (ed), Practice Based Design Research, Bloomsbury, London, pp. 29-42.
Tonkinwise, C 2017, 'The structure of structural change: Making a habit of being alienated as a designer' in Egenhoefer, RB (ed), Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design, Routledge, pp. 433-455.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Tonkinwise, C 2017, 'Transitions in sociotechnical conditions that afford usership: Sustainable who?' in Egenhoefer, RB (ed), Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design, Routledge, pp. 349-358.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2017 selection and editorial matter, Jonathan Chapman; individual chapters, the contributors. While sustainable design strives for quantifiable change, it has a history of ending up advocating for radical socioeconomic change. For instance, life cycle assessment (LCA) research pushed sustainable design researchers to promote systems of shared product use as a way of radically reducing the materials intensity of society. Initial efforts toward these 'product service systems' in the mid-2000s proved premature. This chapter describes more recent changes to information technologies and their use within consumer societies that appear to be more compatible with 'sharing economies'. Pathways for transitioning toward more sustainable ways of resourcing everyday life appear to be opening up. However, these opportunities are not without their own dangers: lifestyles structured around 'usership' rather than ownership may be less materials intense, but also less autonomous. Designers have considerable power in determining which way 'sharing economies' turn.
Tonkinwise, C 2016, 'Everyday homeopathy in practice-changing design research' in Design as Research: Positions, Arguments, Perspectives, pp. 83-90.
Tonkinwise, C 2014, '"Design away"' in Yelavich, S & Adams, B (eds), Design as Future-Making, Bloomsbury, London, pp. 198-213.
Titmarsh, M & Tonkinwise, C 2010, '"Art versus Design: Saving Power versus Enframing, or A Thing of the Past versus World Making"', 21st Century Heidegger Conference, University College Dublin, Ireland.
Dialogue between two paper presenters, Mark Titmarsh and Cameron Tonkinwise concerning the ontological importance of art as against design.
Tonkinwise, C & Lorber-Kasunic, J 2006, 'What things know: Exhibiting animism as artefact-based design research', Working Papers in Art and Design, Volume 4, The Role of Context in Art and Design Research, Research into Practice 2006, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK, pp. 1-14.
This paper develops a way of evaluating designed artifacts as research. It focuses deliberately on design, on the generation of new knowledge that can happen when making things for use. It works with an account of the making process proposed by the literary philosopher, Elaine Scarry, as clarified by the sociologist of technology, Bruno Latour. Scarry argues that there is an animism at the heart of making and in the background of all use of artefacts. To this extent, artefacts are judged, in everyday use as well as the professional design process, by how deep and wide and active their knowledge of human needs and desires is. This paper suggests that given that this animism is inherent to the process and outcomes of design, artefacts can also be judged by whether they promote new knowledge about human needs and desires, though such judgments can only be made on the basis of carefully staged use experiences of the designs.
Tonkinwise, C 2003, 'Interminable Design: Techne and Time in the Design of Sustainable Service Systems', European Academy of Design conferences - Techne Design Wisdom, European Academy of Design conferences, University of Barcelona, University of Barcelona, Spain, pp. 1-16.
The research promotes a new approach to thinking about urban liveability in warming cities by identifying cooling patterns for outdoor common spaces.
This report outlines accessUTS feedback and recommendations to the concept designs of the proposed Sustainability Display House at Parklea.