Design as Distributed Agency


‘Accessibility’ is forming the basis of my understanding of ‘Design as Distributed Agency’. If we are trying to understand design through other people’s eyes, we need to be reachable to others and vice versa. If how we design is going to involve a process by which a variety of people (clients, architects, designers, users, neighbours etc.) are acknowledged as contributors to the design process, then a platform must be accessible by all.

I have chosen an image of beer mats produced by Toby Lloyd and Andrew Wilson (artists) from Artist House 45. Toby and Andrew, for example, choose mediums such as the newspaper and beer mat to communicate their work as artists. They avoid anything that could be perceived as “too arty” so that other people (not from art worlds) do not feel alienated and subsequently ignore what they do. Newspapers can be read by all, beer mats / coasters are recognised and used by all, they are common-ground mediums accessible by all.

Toby and Andrew have also produced work that explores the dynamics of the public house, ‘The Pub & The People’, as a space that tends to allow its inhabitants to talk, debate and discuss freely, openly and relaxed – regardless of their background or career.


For me, for ‘Design as Distributed Agency’ to be achievable, participants must feel that they are entitled to share their perspective and ideas.  Those of non-design worlds should not feel alienated. If one feels alienated, they feel detached and so will detach themselves from this process and it will have failed.

It is for this reason the beer mats, made by artists who acknowledged the need for breaking the barriers of the ‘art world’ by realising communication accessible and understood by all, for now represent my understanding of what ‘Design as Distributed Agency’ should achieve as the world of architects / architecture suffers a similar issue.


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