Designing civic spaces in and for friendship

In 2021 I was commissioned as Artist in Residence at Artcore Gallery, Derby, during which I undertook a self-directed inquiry of: What it would look like to design (civic spaces) in and for friendship.

In friendship: to adopt the relational position of ‘friend’ to those you (as planner, designer) purport to design with and for.
For friendship: to create space that support the creation and deepening of friendship
i) with one’s self: self-care and solitude
ii) with one another: connection with both pre-existing and new
Beyond the design process and physical inclusions it contains: how can we seize and claim sites for the above listed forms of friendship.

The project was developed through conversation with friends – practitioners in the arts, community leaders, architects and activists. I established a temporary, virtual research group for the duration of the residency, sharing what I was researching as I went along, folding in responses along the way. A public exhibition was then hosted at Artcore in Derby to share the research and invite further response.

This research question is born out of a time which has seen a proliferation of the language of ‘co-’ (co- design, creation, production) with the relationship between the implication ‘co-‘s’ never clear: conversations around power dynamics often evaded, and the terms/methods being used with varying levels of integrity. Friendship appears as a linguistical clean break. A more equitable term that people bear a point of reference to.

This research question is also born from a time where huge swaths of peoples are proactively designed out of spaces, far from being designing in and for friendship with.

This project is considered to be open ended and I intend to run future iterations with focus placed on friendships with more-than-human beings and cross-border friendships.

You can view a document bringing the work together below.

Please get in touch for more information.

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