In the Loop: Cameron Tonkinwise
350 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60654
"The Practice of Transition Design - in Style"
Designers are often made to believe they are more powerful than they are, like when they are blamed for how unsustainable our societies are. Recent research at the nexus of technological innovation management and social practice theory indicates how pivotal designers can be. Design does not cause disruptions, but, when networked at multiple levels over time, it can amplify and inflect emergent shifts in socio-technical regimes. Particularly important for this kind of “transition designing” is attention to style—not the form of products, but rather the way practices cohere as experiences.
Cameron Tonkinwise is associate professor and director of design studies at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He has a background in philosophy and researches what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies, and sociologies of technology. Cameron is also chairing the PhD committee, currently restructuring the School of Design's PhD program. He has extensive experience with practice-based design research, having supervised and examined reflective practice and artifact-based research projects and written about the epistemologies particular to this kind of work.
Cameron comes to the School of Design from Parsons The New School for Design, where he was the associate dean of sustainability and, before that, co-chair of the Tishman Environment and Design Center and chair of design thinking and sustainability in the School of Design Strategies. Cameron has also served as director of design studies at the University of Technology, Sydney and executive director of Change Design, formerly known as the EcoDesign Foundation.
Cameron's primary area of research is sustainable design. In particular, he focuses on the design of systems that lower societal materials intensity, primarily by decoupling use and ownership—in other words, systems of shared use. Cameron has published a range of articles on the role of design, particularly service design, in the promotion of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption.