Design Museum announces 2020 Designers in Residence

This year marks the 13th edition of the museum’s flagship support programme for emerging talent, with designers this year responding to the theme of “care”.

London’s Design Museum has announced four new Designers in Residence for 2020, with this year’s cohort responding to the theme of “care”.

This in the 13th edition of the initiative, which seeks to nurture emerging talent in the design world and has so far helped the likes of Yuri Suzuki and Asif Khan.

Each of the selected residents will be given time and space to research and progress their practice, according to the museum, which will provide them with a bursary, commissioning budget and production costs.

The four residents this year make up an all-female team: Enni-Kukka Tuomala, Abiola Onabule, Cynthia Voza Lusilu and Ioana Man.

(L-R) Abiola Onabule, Cynthia Voza Lusilu, Ioana Man, Enni-Kukka Tuomala

The residents and their plans

There are some ambitious projects slated for this year’s programme, with each addressing the theme differently.

Finnish designer Enni-Kukka Tuomala will use her residency to investigate the “growing global empathy deficit” of modern times. This will see her create an immersive empathy training programme, complete with an empathy trainer and an empathy gym containing tools and accessories. These will help question perceptions of empathy and assess how better to incorporate it into our lives. (Previous work from Tuomala can be found in the banner image at the top of this story).

In a similar vein, designer and researcher Cynthia Voza Lusilu proposes to create “restorative tools” and a new support system for mental health in Black British communities. It is a continuation of her work done at MA level and she is aiming for the project to “shape healing spaces”.

Elsewhere, London-based fashion designer Abiola Onabule will use the time to explore how the exchange of craft and skills can be an act of care and conversation. She will focus her studies on the stories of West African women living in the UK.

And finally, Ioana Man will use her residency to rethink planning and construction practices. Current ways of working create “zones of biological inequality”, she says, so she intends to develop alternatives that can protect ecosystems and communities.

Work from Abiola Onabule (left) and Ioana Man

Virtual sharing

Applications for the 2020 edition of the scheme opened back in February, before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

In the fallout, the Design Museum was one of countless establishments to close its doors during lockdown.  The museum is now tentatively beginning to reopen, starting with its exhibition Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers.

With the creatives being appointed to their residency roles in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the initial stages of their work will be shared virtually. This will then culminate in a physical showcase at the Design Museum, as in previous years.

Work from Cynthia Voza Lusilu
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