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Open Call: Islands

Apply now for Design Researchers in Residence 2022/23



Design Researchers in Residence is Future Observatory’s programme for design researchers hosted at the Design Museum. The residency supports thinkers at the start of their careers to spend a year developing a new research project in response to a theme.

The theme for the next cohort is Islands.

The residency has two main aims: to provide design researchers in the early stages of their careers, time and space away from their regular environment to develop and produce new work, and to offer museum visitors an opportunity to engage with live design research projects.

Each year the residency accommodates four researchers, working in different disciplines, to further develop their individual responses to the theme and brief.

This programme culminates with a showcase in the Residency Studio, exhibiting different outcomes of the residents’ process and research. This showcase is accompanied by a catalogue, which promotes the work of each designer, and raises their profile within the design community and the wider public.

Each resident is provided with a commissioning budget of £6,000, which goes directly towards producing the work that will be presented at the end of the residency. A bursary of £11,400 is also offered to support the development of their career and to fund their practice.

Design Researchers in Residence: Islands will run from October 2022 – September 2023.

How to Apply


  • Download and read the full Call for Entries (below)

  • Download and fill out the Application Form (below)

  • Send the completed Application Form to

Deadline for entries: 09.00 Monday 19 September


Rising Sea Levels by Susan Wright

Islands are defined by the connections formed at their edges: to seas and oceans, and the ecosystems that inhabit them; as well as to other islands, both nearby and further afield.

Rather than isolated units implied by an ‘island mentality’, they are better imagined as interdependent nodes in networks. This September, the first Islands Forum will bring representatives of island communities around the UK to Orkney, north-eastern Scotland, to discuss their common challenges in the age of the climate crisis. With over 6,000 separate islands making up the 'British Isles', the UK itself is better understood as a vast and diverse archipelago than any kind of singular nation.

Indeed, in an era of hyperconnectivity – when submarine cables run from Canada to Southport and from Japan to Cornwall, broadcasting messages and images from the entire planet – the idea of any insular landmass seems misplaced. Arguably it always has. The wealth of this ‘Small Island’ is inseparable from its former colonies; its historic investment in material extraction and fossil capital directly leading to the environmental catastrophes affecting island communities around the world today.

For the next cohort of Design Researchers in Residence, we are seeking proposals that engage with the continuum of isolation and interconnectedness that is implied in the island, as an environmental, geographical and social construct.

We invite applications from designers and researchers whose research touches on themes including (but not limited to) marine ecosystems; rising sea levels and coastal communities; infrastructure for climate refugees; food sovereignty; importation and supply chains; islander identities and cultural connections.

We encourage applicants to interpret the brief as openly as possible.