Design (In) actions

Erik Sandelin, Sarah Homewood

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Sometimes the best decision may be to not design. But you can “not design” in different ways. There are emerging discussions of using design's destructive potential to hinder, eliminate, “undesign” unwanted technologies and practices. In this paper we argue that informed and carefully crafted not-doings should also be considered valid and generative design acts. Through discussing a series of inaction-related design projects we propose the concept of design (in)actions. An (in)action is the informed, articulated and designerly decision to not act. Through the concept of “designer killjoy” we frame risks and stakes of such moves. We discuss how design inactivism – design (in)actions mobilised for activist ends – inform and develop current conceptualisations of design activism. Finally, we propose design (in)actions as a useful tactic for “gracious design”: more-than-human design moves characterised by forsaking human privilege through leaving be.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences, Shaping Society
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date25 Oct 2020
Article number25
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2020


  • not design
  • design (in)actions
  • designer killjoy
  • design inactivism
  • gracious design


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