Team CDE – Peter Townson

In his own words, Pete is a self-confessed generalist. He lives and breathes the world of design. His approach is centred between the tangible and intangible, the theory and the practice. It is in the ambiguity of this nexus that Peter feels most at home. From his background as an industrial designer, Peter has co-founded a manufacturing business and has designed and created everything from airplane cabin controls, business workflow management systems and even wooden sunglasses.

The translation of his craft from the physical into the service and digital design builds off his post-graduate education and application of design-led innovation, where he published extensively on the process of implementing and instilling design throughout a mining equipment manufacturer. Peter now facilitates innovation sprints that focus on high-impact, intractable social problems and publishes research into design processes for the digital economy.

Here’s what Pete has to say in response to our questions.

What is your research focus?

My work uses design to bridge the fundamental gap between research and
practice. I would compliment myself by saying that I am an academic jack-
of-all-trades; or be self-deprecating by saying that I have professional-ADHD.
Either way, my interest is always in new skills, topics, challenges, and
collaborators; running design sprints on fascinating situations that emerge
from the digital economy. My research background is embedding design-led
innovation and design thinking within large, complex organisations and
industries. In the 6 years working with Marek and the team in the Centre
(formerly the Chair) in the Digital Economy, I have project-managed 30 client
research projects (which we call sprints) across topics as diverse as youth
homelessness, romance scams and plastic-waste policy.

What excites you most about the digital economy?

Moving away from a single globalised society (boring and unstable) to a
decentralised but federated network of democratically and culturally diverse
people, organisations, services, utilities and governments and economies.

Are you an optimist or pessimist about the future?

Why would one limit themselves to these two passive views? Both assume
that our efforts will have no bearing on the future. As the digital economy
permeates all aspects of life, the relationship between research, theory,
practice, and use within our ever-changing world requires us all to actively
adapt to new and unique challenges that emerge and work hard to shape
them. What this means is that we are not passive to the disruption/resilience
tug-of-war in the digital economy. I am optimistic that the unintended
consequences that emerge as we traverse the micro and the macro of our
digital future, are being worked on by the strongest minds. I am optimistic
that the digital economy is being carefully considered. That it is being
grounded in unbiased and rigorous research. I am optimised that the digital
economy of the future is being designed.

Finish this sentence: In 2050, there will be…

Autonomous cars so I can live where I want to live and work where I want to
work and not have idle time commuting.
Peter Townson

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *