Good Things and Bad Things: Tricky objects, people and processes

Workshop  organisers
Professor Tom Fisher, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Professor Lorraine Gamman, Central Saint Martins, London, UK

Does it matter what designers do?  Are there any 'good things' and 'bad things' or only 'good actions' and 'bad actions' or 'good practices' and 'bad practices'? Do designers really have any ethical agency? Does it matter that things (good and bad) have unintended consequences?  And what is a 'thing' anyway? If you are interested in questions like these, consider applying to join the good things and bad things workshop at the Design Research Society's conference at Umea, Sweden, in June 2014.  You may be a designer working in an area with obvious ethical implications - environmental sustainability; 'defence'; food design.  You may be a design educator concerned about what you should be teaching your students about the ethics of their future practice.  You may be a design researcher wondering how principles of ethics and value can articulate with the theoretical frame for your analysis.  At the workshop we will hear a number of presentations selected from this call, which focus on the good/bad nature of specific things. They will relate their chosen objects to specific ideas from the literature, such as recent work on the question of whether things/ technologies can be innately good or bad, and will include a spread of types of object - some virtual, some material, some organisational.

Send a 300 word abstract of your presentation to Tom Fisher ( and Lorraine Gamman ( by April 1st 2014.

In this detail:

  • The Thing - what is it; why is it 'tricky'?
  • The questions the it raises - can these be addressed by design?
  • Links between the discussion it will generate and previous relevant work.

The workshop conveners will review the abstracts against the following criteria:

  • The thing identified is tricky.
  • The questions it implies have a good fit with those implied by the other abstracts.
  • There is scope to develop the abstract in the context of the discussion for future publication.

Workshop website

And, you can join the 'good things and bad things' facebook group: for updates on the workshop.

Tom Fisher:
Lorraine Gamman: