On April 11th, Cameron Tonkinwise came to Products of Design to deliver his annual "closing" lecture to the MFA design students. In what has become a yearly ritual, Cameron brings an always-provocative and entertaining thesis—this time, in a critique of the holiest-of-holy design keystones—empathy.
Cameron is the Director of Design Studies at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. Cameron has a background in philosophy; his dissertation concerned the educational philosophies of Martin Heidegger. Cameron continues to research what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies and sociologies of technology. Cameron is facilitating the School of Design's creation of a new Design Studies sequence of courses that better prepare designers for a wider scope of work and the more interdisciplinary challenges of 21st century societies. Cameron is also chairing the PhD Committee that is currently restructuring the School of Design's PhD program. He has extensive experience with practice-based design research, having supervised and examined reflective practice and artifact-based research projects and written about the epistemologies particular to this kind of work. Cameron's primary area of research is sustainable design. In particular, he focuses on the design of systems that lower societal materials intensity, primarily by decoupling use and ownership - in other words, systems of shared use. Cameron has published a range of articles on the role of design, and in particular, service design, in the promotion of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption.