Workshop The School of Critical Design


We are an experimental design school dedicated to exploring emerging practice, methods and thinking in design, business, research, and strategy. Our professional workshops, masterclasses, and retreats create space to develop and apply next design & business practice to the most critical and pressing issues for our planet, people, & business now and for the next 1,000 years.

Gemma Jones

Gem is a researcher and strategist based in the UK. She specialises in the reading and interpretation of changing culture, behaviour and design through semiotic and ethnographic methods. Since studying Literature and then a masters at King’s College London in Culture and Creative Industries, Gem has worked for 8 years on cross-cultural insight and strategy with a spectrum of global businesses, non-profits and brands including Microsoft, IHG, Costa and World Wide Tribe.

Malex Salamanques

Malex has been practicing and teaching design for the last 20 years, centering her practice in the use of cultural insight and semiotic thinking to directly and specifically guide design actionability. She spent the last 3 years leading the Design Insight offer at the UK based consultancy Space Doctors, where she was instrumental in shaping the role of the critical design and sensory thinking.

She holds a Masters degree (Distinction) in Design and Branding Strategy from Brunel University in London and a BA degree in graphic design & visual communication from Prodiseño, the leading design school in Venezuela, where she worked subsequently as Associate Professor of Graphic Design until 2004, when she moved to the U.K.

J Paul Neeley

J. Paul is a designer & researcher based in London. He is the director of Neeley Worldwide, helping organizations create meaningful impact through speculative design, service design, research & strategy. He has worked professionally at Unilever & the Mayo Clinic, and studied on the Design Interactions course with Tony Dunne & Fiona Raby at the Royal College of Art from 2009 - 2011. For the past 10 years he has applied in his professional practice and taught Speculative design with leading companies around the world, and as a tutor in Service Design at the Royal College of Art.


Speculative Design for Forced Migration Contexts

Huge parts of our world and its people are already experiencing the devastating effects of forced migration. Systems and borders are under great strain, and global social, environmental, and cultural stability will continue to be radically impacted. The UN predicts that climate change could create hundreds of millions of climate refugees in the next 50 years. We need to consider how we can prepare for what is ahead, and what we might learn from existing grassroots initiatives, current research, and humanitarian organisations working in the space, about the realities of the refugee experience and the environments they're travelling through and living in.

In this workshop we'll be exploring how speculative design can be applied to realising better possible futures for migrants as well as the countries and cultures that will host them. We will hear from designers working in the current Venezuelan diaspora and consider the general signals these events send about the future. We will also learn from the experiences and initiatives of refugees in Europe and those working in camps and at borders to support their journey.We will use speculative design methods and real case studies as tools to help us envision the different futures we may face as a global community and how we might better understand and address these unfolding realities in the near and longer term.

Possible topics to be explored - cultural and language translation; stability of essential supplies; humanisation of temporary accommodation; new platforms of sharing and distribution; connectivity; environmental resources; borders and bureaucracy.

What are the 3 most important things attendees will learn/take away from your workshop?

  • Key principles and tools of speculative design
  • A practical understanding of forced migration contexts and its relationship with climate change
  • Opportunities for design to reveal radical solutions and new ways of thinking through humanitarian crisis

Who will most benefit from your workshop?

Mid-level to experienced designers, researchers and strategists

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