Lilli Wilkinson Chambers: I am an Odd Designer

What made you decide to come and work with Reframing Studio?

Its because I want to work in social design. I was checking out last yearsWhatDesignCanDo video’s. I saw Nynke Tromp presenting her keynote and I thought: that is what I want. So I thought this would be a good experience.


What sort of social design?

Working within sexual health education, to develop more inclusive ideas of how sex, relationships and consent are taught in school.


Where have you been educated?

I did A level physics, wanted to be a physicist. But I was the only girl in a class full of boys and it didn’t work out too well for me. My A level graphics teacher Mrs Priestland inspired me to study Graphics. I suppose I am trained as a graphic designer. I am studying at London College of Communication. But I am more in interested in studying design from a more anthropological perspective.


Do you regret your choice for graphic design?

No. I just wish that my school was more broadly oriented and that I could look more into psychology and anthropology.


You could have gone for psychology…

No, I am a visual person.


So how is a visual person going to contribute to effective sex education?

I guess by designing how people interact with the topic. Which is still very much restricted by how each school decides to approach the topic, normally with many warnings and a dissociated attitude. Ultimately I think the interaction with the topic could be designed in a better way.


What sort of education are we talking about, kids in primary schools or adults, preconceived ideas or discrimination?

It starts in primary school, and continues into high school. It is not limited to people my own age: I’ve spoken to quite a lot of people, from my age group but also from older generations like my moms age to gain understanding of different people’s experiences with sexual health education.

I am writing my thesis from a woman perspective and how menstruation is talked about and how design is beginning to cater for women in a way like it never has before.


Did you already work in this direction? Did you design some visual material?

I have been researching, I think that is very relevant at the moment. There are a lot of apps that I have been looking into and how they work. The idea of tracking your fertility. How design can empower people, especially in developing countries.


Are your fellow designers interested in this approach.

Most people that I know are mainly interested in design for big companies. Work that is in the grid and looks beautiful. But there is no weight to it. This is partly why I am disenchanted by my course: most people have no purpose, it feels irresponsible.


What about your teachers…are they like that too?

Most of them are pretty open minded but I guess you need that sort of work to get a decent portfolio but I don’t know whether that is a reflection of our tutors on our work. We’re sort of trained to be more employable, which is not really my focus, I’d rather be a more thoughtful designer and therefore mold my own future which will provide new opportunities that may not be so conventional.


You may have to change profession…

I think there are things more important than design school. Design school is a privilege anyway. Responsibility, sustainability …these sort of things matter but aren’t spoken about other than in the ‘Green Week’.

Also, the jobs we are going to work in don’t exist yet. So there is no point in preparing for something that’s here now, the future is what we should be considering.


Is there any way you feel that you can influence that change? Not in person but as mankind

Thinking of the future instead of thinking of the present… working together with like-minded people to evoke change in others… I don’t know…


You seem to be humble and will not exaggerate your powers but your goals and aspirations are high an difficult to achieve… 

They will be achieved, because I care about them, being humble doesn’t put the goals out of reach, it’s just a more realistic and laid back approach I guess.


Do we have a conflict here? 

It is the story of my life. It annoys me. But it does not hurt me. I am only 20, there is a lot of time for those things to be realized…to work together and not fight each other.


That seems like wishful thinking given that the entire situation is not improving. By the time you are 30 it will be worse

That is true…


So what is going to be your contribution to reverse all this?

I feel these things work on a small scale. I just don’t see how larger scale solutions can work. The things that go on in day to day life, especially in politics…I would say it has to do with how we treat each other… this influences things on a larger scale than we think. That may seem un-ambitious but I feel it makes more sense…we are all pretty powerless as individuals.

Only when people work together they have the ability to alter how things work…


Would you consider your self an optimistic person?

Depends, part of me is optimistic, part is very realistic… I would not say pessimistic.

I think human beings are good inherently but I don’t have much faith in us as a whole. Also I don’t really mind if the world comes to a certain end tomorrow. I am fine with that. We have done horrible things. We all matter because of the societies we live in but ultimately none of us matter. In the grand scheme of things none of us matter.


But it is also a shame because how the world seems to work is that you only get people to do something if it benefits them. Like ‘oh you should meditate because it will help you feel better in yourself, you will have a better headspace’ but you’re not meant to do it for yourself, so you ‘gain’ something it’s not supposed to be about that.


But as a species, humans are hard wired to be slightly egoistic, self interested. Don’t you feel sorry for them?

Yes I guess we can only pity ourselves for what many of us class as important. But I care about the environment and feel sorry for what we’ve done to it. Even more than for the people.


But the planet will survive, so will most species and plants but humans need your help.

I feel more sorry for these barnacles that attached themselves to this ladder while it was submerged. Now that you salvaged it and put it prominently on display in your studio they all had to die.


What would you love to work on as a professional?

A professional dancer. Contemporary dance. I like to perform. It makes me happy. My idea is to do half a year of working in design and half a year traveling around dancing.


Are you a different person as a dancer ?

Yes, much more confident. In design I am not interested in end products, making the website or designing the typeface. I am interested in the research that goes into that.

When I am dancing it is about ‘let it go and be happy’. There is a part of me that want to change the world with design and a part that wants to change the world with dance. Not drastically but just a little happiness you know, And there is a part of me that just wants to live in the woods  and have my peace and make no money and keep my own bees. I hope there will be time for all the realities I’d like to live. I am an odd person, there is a lot of odd space to work on in life, none of them intertwined. They are all fighting against each other.


Would you mind having ODD PERSON on your business card?

Not at all, the strange things are the most interesting things about people. People are more relatable when they show their ‘oddness’ and struggles. I’d like people to embrace their oddness more. Most of my friends have mental health issues, I think it’s important to talk about. I think most people alive do. In regards to mental health I feel we should not always label ourselves (as my mother says), although a label sometimes does help you to get help and everyone should have the opportunity for help in whichever way they need.

Most people around me are strange, they think of things in a different way which often causes me to challenge my own preconceptions of situations that I may encounter. One of my friends is one of those people that have an energy about them, and it is really positive and great to be around her. But then you kind off take it from her which is a shame as these things should be both ways. The way she sees thing is really different. Her outlook on things while her upbringing is just not like any other person I know. She will speak about something that I’d find unsettling and she will be laughing but in a nice way, it’s hard to explain, I think we should all probably laugh more at things that we’re ‘not supposed to’. People remember the way you make them feel, I hope that I can make at least a few people feel as happy as my friends make me feel.


© Reframing Studio