GOOD19: a different type of gathering

People interested in the transformative power of design research around the world gathered at the GOOD19 Conference in Londen on the 27th of July. GOOD19 was the latest edition of a series of international conferences named: the Great Outdoors Of Design. Organised by the Reach Network, of which STBY is a founding member.

Have you ever been to a conference where you actually went outdoors for a picnic? At the Great Outdoors Of Design we enjoyed a green and sustainable picnic lunch outside Plexal, the innovation centre at the Olympic Parc in London. This venue was our playground for a day were participants of the conference, together with Reach Partners, engaged in a mix of presentations on international case studies and extensive discussions in small groups.

As founder and partner of the REACH network for global design research, and the main local organiser of the conference, STBY looks back on a successful day filled with discussion and learning. Throughout the conference special attention was paid at connecting issues from the fields of Care, Work and Planet to all the workshops and keynote speeches. Participants of the conference were encouraged to share and reflect on their research practices and look at their own practices with a new perspective. The central theme for this year’s conference was ‘Considerate Transformation’.

Keynotes on how to become a design activist

Keynote speaker Sophie Thomas (from Thomas.Matthews in London) shared her experience of becoming a design activist. She described how she developed her sustainable design practice, and gradually focused her attention specially on awareness of the impact of plastics & waste. Her development as a designer, a researcher and an activist inspired audience to reflect on their own practice and how their believes as researchers can shape the world and the design team  they work with.

Keynote speaker Richard van der Laken (from What Design Can Do in Amsterdam) told the story that sparked What Design Can Do, an international platform showcasing the impact of design on transforming society in cities around the world: Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, New Delhi and Nairobi. The presentation triggered discussion around the differences of local and global design practice and the challenges, and the opportunities we face together as design researchers around the globe.

Collaborative workshops to share stories from different locations

The conference programme consisted of two sets of collaborative workshop sessions. The participants could sign up for one session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each session was hosted by two REACH members from different locations, sharing stories and insights that they encounter in their own Design Research practices. The sessions were designed to encourage multi-directional conversations amongst the participants, based on the input provided by the hosts. The sessions triggered stimulating and reflective conversations were the participants shared their own research stories and discussed on a constructive basis what their role is and can be.

GOOD19 was described by participants as a ‘different type of gathering’. The picnic lunch outside the conference venue is only an example of why GOOD conferences are different than regular conferences. GOOD is a safe place to ask, listen, explain, show and share stories and experiences for the participants and experts. The program is centred around discussion and learning were the audience not only listens, but plays an active role in the sessions.

Curious to read more? REACH partner Michael Davis-Burchat, director of Big Human based in Toronto, wrote an article about GOOD19 on the website Medium were he explains more about why GOOD19 is different than other conferences.