Source: https://www.andrewweavermla.ca/2020/04/22/celebrating-earth-day-global-pandemic-lock/

Most of the designers I know face ethical challenges at work, and I find myself wondering if they ever act on them.

Times have changed, and designers are thinking differently. We’re working amidst a pandemic and it’s weird and uncharted territory. It can feel hard to ‘do the right thing’ when nothing feels normal.

But it’s also a good opportunity to give things a rethink. And that’s the part of you I’d like to talk to today. I’d like to introduce a bit of lightness to what is usually a bit of a heavy topic. …


‘The dangerous power of speculation’, for TEDxMelbourne, June 2020.

Summary: It turns out that designers with the chops to create the next big thing, aren’t, leaving a precarious question. For designers, it’s about cultivating the meaningful now, not speculating the meaningful next.

The intentions behind those flouting the next big thing then come into question.

The designers who work in the future have pivoted to the present at a time when most other professions are doing the opposite.

What are your ethics of speculating into the future when our present is broken?

Designers are here. Where are you?

Lucy West is a Melbourne-based design practitioner with over 12 years’ experience working across the design spectrum. She gets her kicks exploring new forms of design practice with a focus on design ethics and speculative design.


Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

I’ve been writing about the intersection of design ethics and speculative design for a few years now, but the time has come for some new thinking on the matter.

Designer’s hold a crucial role shaping our responses to COVID-19. It’s clear that many are innovating on what’s to come, but which of these innovations will inhibit the advancement of society, and which will provide meaningful improvements to economic and social welfare? How can we work out the ethical implications of what we choose now?

To kick start the thinking around some of these questions, and in support of my existing…


Photo by Marko Blazevic from Pexels

In my most recent article, ‘Design ethics for designers who give a toss’, I published a Speculative Design Ethics Canvas to help designers locate their ethics and put them into action.

Here’s a bit more detail…

My 2018 thesis found that the out-of-the-box ethics tools we use in our practices aren’t effective; that ethics isn’t one-size-fits-all. This and other research insights highlighted that design practitioners approach their practices from different angles due to their different values and core beliefs.

These discoveries initiated further exploration to uncover ways I could validate and push what I’d found into practical and verifiable territories.


Most of the designers I know call bullshit at work on a daily basis. But calling out bad behaviour doesn’t make you an ethical designer. Times have changed, and designers need to learn to think differently. The good news is that Speculative design and Reflective practice can help designers escape the noise and find their ethics with integrity.

As human-centred design grows and becomes ubiquitous in our workplaces, the need to design ethically has never been greater.

Yet ethics can just feel too big. It’s hard enough to work within the shifting contexts of everyday design without adding ethics into…


Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Most of the designers I know call bullshit at work on a daily basis. But calling out bad behaviour doesn’t make you an ethical designer. Times have changed, and designers need to learn to think differently. The good news is that Speculative design and Reflective practice can help designers escape the noise and find their ethics with integrity.

As human-centred design grows and becomes ubiquitous in our workplaces, the need to design ethically has never been greater.

Yet ethics can just feel too big. It’s hard enough to work within the shifting contexts of everyday design without adding ethics into…


I’ve been having discussions with friends and colleagues lately about the lack of credibility of design.

Having ‘design’ or ‘designer’ in your role title does not give you actual design chops.

My colleagues and I are seeing a lot of organisations problematically propelling this problem by hiring inexperienced practitioners into design positions which set the individual and the company up for failure.

I have also heard of some consultancies placing people into their client’s organisations with the title of designer when they’ve never done a day’s design work in their lives.

With novice design practitioners on both sides, it’s no…


Speculative Ethics Experiment: DesignEthics.com.au

It’s exciting that designers are trying on the latest Speculative design buzz to look beyond what is happening in their practices, but what is Speculative design as applied to design practice?

Speculative design has appeared in the main stream, but what is it and why is it taking the interest of designers?

In early 2018, I conducted research to discover how designers can find their own ethics. This led to a series of experiments which aim to evolve our understanding of design ethics using Speculative design.

What is Speculative Design?

Speculative design is what it sounds like–speculating about what the future might look like…


Design leadership has been researched in 2 parts.

Part 1

Part 1 focused on the following aspects of Design Leadership:

  • The design of business — the importance of design and business to work together;
  • Mindset as a driver of other capabilities — how intent and mindset overlay for a designer and how we might begin to channel mindset to build upon our other capabilities;
  • Holistic thinking — zooming in and zooming out: the gamut between interaction design and strategic vision as where designers need to live, breath and navigate.

Part 2

My objective was to explore and test the three themes explored in Part…


©Image by Lucy West 2018.

This summary provides an outline of my Masters thesis entitled, ‘Ethical tensions in design practice’, submitted for completion of Masters in Design Futures at RMIT, June 2018.

The following provides a high-level overview as my research in this area is ongoing. Some aspects of the thesis have been edited out on this basis. For more information, please contact me at lucy@eyelovelucy.com.

Research objective

I chose to discover the role of ethics within design practice because I believe design needs to be accountable. Designers need to lead ethically and own the responsibility that comes with the job.

Ethics embody what it means to…

Lucy West

Designer | Human Centred Design | Strategic & Service Design | Design Ethics | designethics.com.au | lucywest.com.au

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