A workaround is a creative improvisation to get to a desired result, usually when there’s something in the way. The obstacle could be a technical fault, a policy or an interface designed to exclude you (deliberately or not). The workaround, often developed over time, in collusion with others who are encountering the same obstacle, is usually unofficial, illegitimate, or even prohibited. Who says workarounds are not permitted? Policymakers, gatekeepers, manufacturers, engineers, and — let’s be honest — designers. But those who come up with workarounds are also designers, sometimes canny, ingenious people with inky or oily fingers, their eyes on the changing conditions of the situation at hand. The workaround is an improvisation because it’s not developed from afar, in a theoretical or abstracted situation: the workaround comes from the frontlines of the problem, where the rubber meets the road, the ink meets the roller, or where the computer says no.

Usually, the workaround is designed to get past the problem without eliminating it. What does that mean for the problem? If the workaround catches on, it eventually comes to the attention of the system’s designers, policymakers, manufacturers, gatekeepers, and the problem is sometimes addressed. But could this process be accelerated by celebrating the workaround? Could the workaround create spaces of play, invention and kindness*? By drawing attention to the creativity in peoples’ improvised solutions, could we close the feedback loop and draw attention to the problem that systems are often designed to produce errors, unfairness and even injustice?

DESIGNINQUIRY WORK/AROUND will take place during the London Design Festival (17–23 September 2023) and will be held in a “meanwhile” space of University of the Arts London in the Millbank area close to Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts, and importantly continues after this specific event to further develop, collect and present its findings in the form of website(s) and publication(s).

When and How

17– 23 September 2023

WORK/AROUND participants will explore these inquiries via making, discussion, exhibition and publishing platforms. The residency will be equipped with a RISO printer in addition to other tools and equipment. Participants are welcome to bring equipment/materials to share.


This multi-disciplinary gathering serves as an open format publishing platform of 12 residents, DI framers and daily inquirers to engage in a week of obstacles, diversions and impositions to work around. We invite applicants from diverse disciplines interested in design: Fields of interest can be performance, installation, interaction, drawing, music, philosophy, geography, architecture, gastronomy, astronomy, walking, talking, etc.

Number of Residents


TO APPLY TO BE A WEEK-LONG RESIDENT DURING WORK/AROUND in London, UK September 17–23, 2023 please complete the questionnaire at this link. Travel and accommodation are the responsibility of participants. We’ll start an email thread among the participants as soon as we know who they are.

Thoughts, ideas, experiences and observations will ideally become the starting point for a contribution to the WORK/AROUND gathering, subsequent exhibitions and publishing. We will contact you to indicate if your proposal has been accepted, i.e. expands the mix of contributions to the topic during and after the gathering. Participants will be accepted until WORK/AROUND fills.


Anyone is invited to observe, work, discuss, join WORK/AROUND throughout the week for an hour or two, a full day, or something in-between.


WORK/AROUND findings are a result of the collaboration of the group and may take many forms including online publishing, publication in the peer-reviewed DesignInquiry journal, exhibition, or site-based interventions.

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