Leanne Fischler holds a degree in Product Design from the University of Dundee and has since worked on a diverse range of projects for organisations including V&A Dundee and IDEO. Leanne has spoken publicly and on national media about her critical, anti-consumerist design work and recently returned to the University of Dundee to lead a module in the Product Design studio.
Leanne grew up in the Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland. Inspired by the essential resourcefulness of islanders, Leanne uses her design practice as a tool to get people thinking critically about how we buy, consume and eventually waste products. Her past projects have included making kits to get you through the apocalypse using what you can find around you; and a talking handbag that shouts at you when you try to buy something unnecessary. Leanne rejects the idea that product design is solely a tool to be used by consumer society, instead seeing design as a method for generating discussion and reflection. Alongside other projects, she creates co-design workshops and DIY kits that get people making to help them to explore new approaches to, and draw their own conclusions on, resource use and environmental sustainability.
Having grown up with all the benefits of being a member of a small community, Leanne understands the importance of local understanding of social and environmental requirements. She witnessed the potential for communities to empower people first hand through her work with charity Skill Share Dundee and within The GalGael Trust, Govan. In encouraging small communities to take ownership of design as a form of activism, she believes we can encourage people to take ownership of the problems around them and achieve local aims that can then be scaled up to wider impacts. Most developments in modern technology are driven at global scale; this can be seen by some as problematic and is a notion that could be deciphered by a more community and local perspective.
Leanne now works as a designer at speculative design studio Superflux in London. At Superflux, she took on the role of producer for Superflux’s installation ‘Mitigation of Shock’ exhibited at ArtScience Museum Singapore 2019 to 2020 exploring a future Singapore in which climate change has had a dramatic impact on peoples’ lives. A number of projects Leanne is currently working on at Superflux, such as a project with Omidyar Network and another with Mozilla Foundation, have exposed Leanne to a new way of thinking about the role of technology in environmental harm, and also in building hopeful environmental futures. She has been fascinated by new-to-her links between the familiar opaqueness of the product production process and the dark, and hidden back end of technological systems such as data and the power consumption of machine learning. In particular, Leanne is keen to develop her understanding and ability to facilitate discussion that questions extractive corporations and the exploitation of users. Most importantly, Leanne is excited to explore what an equitable and environmental internet might look like.
Read more about Leanne’s design work on her website at www.leannefischler.co.uk or on twitter @leannefischler.
Chris Page studied Marine Biology at undergraduate level, driven by a passion for marine environments and a desire to explore and appreciate the complex ways in which nature works. After completing a subsequent MSc in Marine Resource Management which allowed him to explore how to make sense of a wide variety of information/data to best protect and preserve marine ecosystems, Chris began to understand the importance of data in monitoring environmental harm and informing positive future directions.
Chris has since worked as a Marine Scientist for Orkney Sustainable Fisheries, carrying out new research into the reproductive cycle of the Common Whelk, Buccinum undatum to inform and, ultimately, to update fishing regulations on minimum landing sizes. Chris also worked as a Research Scientist for the Marine Stewardship Council using big data and geospatial data to model the risk of interactions of the UK’s national Monkfish Fishery with Endangered & Protected Species of Seabirds, Elasmobranchs and Marine Mammals.
Chris currently works as a Geospatial and Data Consultant at Aquatera, a small environmental and marine operations consultancy in Orkney. He carries out research and develops projects on both renewable energy and environmental research. Within this role, Chris has used machine learning maximum entropy models to predict the areal extent of important habitats of kelp, maerl, horse mussels and seagrasses. Such organisms create important habitats which provide refuge for mobile species; ecosystem nutrient cycling; and also sequestrate large amounts of carbon providing a vital service in the fight against global warming. This work in systems thinking and research was done by using ML. Known presence points were plotted on a variety of environmental layers that can inform a bioclimatic envelope of the habitat, (i.e. tidal current light penetration at seabed etc.) to then predict areas with similar environmental conditions. The report is published by the Scottish Government at this link (https://data.marine.gov.scot/dataset/blue-carbon-audit-orkney-waters).
Chris is now working on the creation of the world’s first smart Integrated Energy System: ReFLEX. ReFLEX is an energy grid developed for, and totally tailored to the requirements and resources of the Orkney Islands. In Orkney, the electricity grid is very constrained and generation assets sometimes have to be turned off as the islands create more energy than the infrastructure can process. Therefore storage assets such as hydrogen and batteries will be deployed to “mop up” this energy and use it at different times (i.e. when the wind is not blowing, or times where demand is peaking). Chris is developing forecasting models for energy demand using weather data that will inform the behaviour and processing of the Integrated Energy System. As part of this work, Chris has undertaken training in Model Based Systems Engineering which is aiding in the development of the basis of design of the IES. As part of this, a modelling software is used to map the structure of the system using a backend database that connects diagrams using a language called SysML. Such mapping and systems thinking will help develop and aid in mapping of “black box” systems and potentially provide different perceptions and viewpoints to be made on.