Future Observatory Free Display

Design Researchers in Residence: Solar Display

A free display of new design research responding to the climate crisis.

What to expect

Solar brings together the work of the four 2023/24 Design Researchers in Residence. The projects featured in the display explore our changing relationships with the heat and light of the sun through multidisciplinary and collaborative work.

Their projects touch on the heat of the internet, the changing scents of plants, the architecture of the conservatory and the contested restoration of Scotland’s peatland bogs.

The 2023/24 Design Researchers in Residence are April Barrett, Eliza Collin, Jamie Gatty Irving and Freya Spencer-Wood.

Design Researchers in Residence is Future Observatory’s programme for design researchers hosted at the Design Museum. The residency supports thinkers at the start of their careers to spend a year developing a new research project in response to a theme. Design Researchers in Residence builds upon the Design Museum’s distinguished Designers in Residence programme that ran from 2007 to 2020.

the residents

April Barrett

April Barrett is a researcher and strategist, who comes from a video game industry background in Canada. During her residency at the Design Museum, April will focus on the potentially damaging impact of data centres on the energy supplies available to local communities. She will also question the validity of Big Tech’s increasing entanglement with renewable energy futures.

Eliza Collin

Eliza Collin is a designer and researcher whose practice spans areas of ethnography, art, co-design and education. As a Design Researcher in Residence, Eliza will explore how the scents emitted by plants are changing in response to climate breakdown. This work is a continuation of a project developed in collaboration with agroecologist Dr Coline Jaworski. Eliza will examine the domino effect of this phenomenon on surrounding ecosystems, from pollinator health to food systems.

Jamie Irving

Jamie Irving is an architect and educator who teaches Design Studio and Tectonics at Kingston School of Art. His research will explore the insulative and solar heating potential of conservatories. The project is underpinned by the idea that reducing energy consumption within housing offers opportunities for reimagining the relationship between our built environment and the climate.

Freya Spencer-Wood

Freya Spencer-Wood is an interdisciplinary designer and researcher working at the intersection of set design, land politics and queer identity. Freya’s research at the Design Museum will explore Scotland’s lack of sun, wet climate and peatland restoration as an opportunity for impactful climate action and equitable land reform. The project recognises the inherent link between spatial and climate justice and will investigate bogs as queer spaces: in-between landscapes that are often misunderstood.

This programme is generously supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Idlewild Trust.

Arts and Humanities Research Council

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects from history and archaeology to philosophy and languages, design and effectiveness of digital content and the impact of artificial intelligence.

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Future Observatory is a new programme for design research supporting the UK's response to the climate crisis. It is coordinated by the Design Museum in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council.