Austin Houldsworth

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Doctor Austin Houldsworth PhD, MA (RCA)



I am an interdisciplinarity design researcher and educator with a focus on critical & speculative design. My work strives to leverage change through the application of design within unfamiliar disciplines. Like redesigning monetary systems (doctoral thesis ‘For money's sake’ 2018), building prototype human fossilisation machines (2 million &1AD commissioned by Tatton Park biennial), creating the ‘Intergalactic Estate Agency’ at the Eden Project, or founding the longstanding ‘Future of Money’ design awards.


I have been working as an educator in higher education settings for the past 13 years. Having taught Interaction Design for 2 years at the RCA under Anthony Dunne, commercial Product Design for 3 years at Huddersfield (MA and BA), Textile students at CSM in the material futures MA program and supervision of a diverse range of PhD doctorial projects. In truth, I am at home when different disciplines meet, silos collapse, and new possibilities are generated.

My professional and academic project work also embodies that sense of diversity of approach and discipline. My recent Ref outputs include my Eden Project commission that incorporates performance, interaction design, product design and craftsmanship in the creation of a working morse code messaging machine for the intergalactic estate agency. This folio also includes commissions from Nesta and Barclaycard-sponsored research of alternative monetary systems. More recently I received funding to create 3 counterfactual 1970s mobile phones that embody alternative notions of identity, which challenge the reductive notion of identity that is fundamental within the identifier systems currently used within telecoms networks.


Department of Art and Design

College of Social Sciences and Arts

Subject area:

  • Post-Graduate & Fine Art

Courses taught:

  • MA Design
  • PhD supervision


Interactive Artefacts:

Morse Code Messaging Machine

(Electro-mechanical design; Birch Ply, Gearing, Aluminium plate) agency/

Coin Stamp & plastic bottle top coinage

(Acid & electrolysis etched mild steal)

2015 Payment Gun 2015

(Materials: 3d Printed SLA, electroformed with zinc, turned blackwood)

2014 Money incinerating payment organ 2014 - 2.5m x 0.5m x 0.5m (Bend Plywood forms, copper piping) Depiction of Walden Note Money machine in operation

We Currency device 2014 - 3m x 3m x 3m

(Scaffolding, wooden forms, pneumatics, control systems)


In the Window - Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom Duration: 12 Jun 2014 — 26 Jun 2014 walden_note_money_austin_houldsworth

Longbridge light festival – Longbridge, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Book Chapter:

Houldsworth, A., 28 Apr 2017, Memories of the Future:

On Countervision. Wilson, S. & Jaffé, D. (eds.). Peter Lang Publishing Group, p. 185-204 10 p. (Cultural Memories; vol. 6).

Conference Papers:

Moneylab – Pakhuis de Zwijger, Piet Heinkade 179, 1019 HC, Amsterdam

Duration: 1st Dec 2016 – 2nd Dec 2016 sessions/

Motf Conference – The Institute of Modern Languages, Senate House, University of London, Malet St, Bloomsbury, London Duration: 2nd May 2014 – 3rd May 2014 Memories-of-the-Future-conference-abstracts-and-speaker-bios.pdf


Scrapheap Challenge for Everyday Security – Royal Geographical Society Conference, 1 Kensington Gore, South Kensington. Duration: 27 Aug 2014 — 27 Aug 2014


All Good Things, Interactive Arts Final Show - Benzie Vertical Gallery, Manchester School of Art, Oxford Road, Manchester, United Kingdom: Duration: 5 Mar 2020 — 14 Mar 2020

2019 Invisible Worlds – The Lab in the Core, The Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, United Kingdom: Duration: 24 Oct 2019 — 1 Nov 2019 exhibition/invisible-worlds-art-residency-austin-houldsworth

2017 V&A Presents: Quids In - The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom Duration: 31 Mar 2017 — 31 Mar 2017

Founder and director of the 'FOM' awards (Future of money design awards), founded in 2009 for Consult Hyperion, previous sponsors and supporters include Visa, Barclaycard, V&A, Alaric NCR and Money 2020.

Current awards and archive of the winners can be found here:


Book chapters

Houldsworth, A. (2017). Counterfiction: Designing within alternative worlds. In Memories of the Future: On Countervision. (pp. 185-204).

Other activities

Founder and director of the Future of Money Awards

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Postgraduate supervision

Open to doctoral supervision related to speculative / critical design, Discursive design, Redefinition Design. On all subject matter, but my own research focus is linked to sociotechnological areas, like money or telecommunications.

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