Design As Catalyst
Georgia Cottington is a designer based in London, with a social and participatory practice, interested in the democratisation of design and the political nature of objects. Combining a background in visual communication with product design and design thinking, she occupies the role of a designer as facilitator, mediator and advocate.
A recipient of a WESLDE Award for her final project Greyfield. She has exhibited at Milan Design Week 2019, as part of Ventura Projects and is a co-founder and editor of 2MD (Too Many Designers): a new student publication launched in 2019 about creative, critical thinking, published by Design Products.
The discipline of design intersects with so many aspects of life, from policy to playgrounds, that it can sometimes feel difficult to know where your skills as a designer are best deployed. This is why I find the role of mediator and faciliator so exciting as a future for design. The current instability we are experiencing has made it clear we must all hold ourselves more accountable for the way we move through the world. I am excited to see where this will lead us.
The Greyfield Garage Studio
The Greyfield Garage Row
Our replicable model for Greyfield projects —
The West Kensington Youth Club Stool
The West Kensington Youth Club Cinema
There are 51,000 empty council-owned garages across London that have the potential to be activated as creative spaces. These underused spaces could become temporary residency spaces for emerging, and established creatives, to promote social cohesion and celebrate the heritage of the estates. As part of the Greyfield pilot scheme, we worked with West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates. The unused garages in the estates have been utilised to establish an art committee and transformed into artist residency studios.
Outreach is an important element of socially engaged practice and this is especially true with Greyfield. However, like many, Greyfield too has been affected by COVID-19, therefore our approach to outreach had to adapt to these times. Through sending out activity packs and creating online virtual workshops we strengthened our relationship with the West Ken youth club. Developing an expected proposal of a pop-up cinema space, built, designed, and programmed by the young people on the estates.
Greyfield is a replicable model for transforming empty council-owned space which started to emerge from our work within West Kensington, which we plan to continue to develop and deploy after graduating from the RCA.
For more information about from the project website.
The People's Quilt
Quilting in Progress
The project developed into a collaboration with the residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green, two neighbouring social housing estates who fought demolition for 11 years. They are now working towards securing a future on their own terms through community ownership. The quilt was co-produced and made collectively over a period of 2 months as a way of sharing and celebrating their extraordinary journey. It’s unveiling coincided with the community’s vote on the Right to Transfer; which was voted for unanimously.
This project made me consider that new models of ownership and grass roots social innovation are happening all the time but how can designers help sustain and enhance this kind of resilience, what is their role?