4 workshops for 2019

Alastair Somerville
3 min readJan 1, 2019

It’s 1st January 2019 and time to guess at what workshops I’ll be doing this year. Last year was about memory and thresholds in mixed realities. This year is about place and perception, time and listening.

Here are four ideas for 2019 workshops.

From Location To Place

I was reading a lot on community and rituals in 2018 and wondered about how much design ignores them and concentrates on the individual and personal interactions.

From Location To Place will be a one hour walking workshop to try and refocus attention onto community and rituals.

I’ll probably be running this in London in January as a 1 hour workshop at a museum or gallery.

This is not a complex workshop – it’s really just practicing stopping and noticing more than yourself.

Understanding Homological Artefacts

Someone sent me a research paper in the meaning of the I-ching and how ancient coins move thru time but are used to divine meaning in the present and future.

That information artefacts move thru time and space is obvious but how meaning changes is less often discussed.

Creating a 3D map of artefacts (like the US constitution) and making physical linkages to show meaning differences is a way the workshop will be used to discuss ideas of colonial thinking and more.

I have this workshop as a bid into some conferences but nothing confirmed.

This is quite a simple workshop to try and explore complex ideas. Building a room size model to create a way of understanding information as it moves thru time and geography.

Modelling Perception

In 2018 I started becoming more uncomfortable with presenting models to workshop participants. Some of the newer ideas on perception, in particular, are quite different to how people think about ideas.

I made a Fifty Card deck to try and co-construct models with participants. This is an attempt to reduce the bias to ‘lecturing’ and also to increase my awareness of existing mental models. I need to escape my own biases and enable more people to communicate clearly.

This is not really a stand alone workshop – more of a way to help understand ideas at the start of a longer workshop.

The Fifty Cards are basic but can be remixed to communicate both complex and complicated linkages of ideas.

Learning To Listen

Finally, a workshop on active listening skills for 2019 that is built on a 2018 workshop and experiences from counselling training.

Learning To Listen is a workshop that is mostly all about practicing how to listen well and how to listen to increasingly emotional conversations.

There are quite strong biases to believe that speaking is more important than listening and emotion is to ignored in communication. This is not helpful in either customer or team communication.

This workshop is strongly practical but based on ideas from non-violent communication and counselling.

This workshop is quite hard as it demands skills that few of us practice enough. It also deliberately faces the emotional elements of communication that people try to avoid.

I’m running a public workshop in Bristol in February and it’s also booked into some corporate training programmes now.

You can book the Bristol workshop on Eventbrite – Learning To Listen.



Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX