Design in service of cultural heritage
Welcome. We're in London and our current research thinking is about deliberate notes to the future, objects as receptacles and prompts, and delicately networked metadata. We do R&D with clients, and for ourselves.
When I say "we" I mean me, George Oates, and a growing cadre of collaborators and advisors.
Work With Us
We love meeting museum, archive and library professionals, and especially working to make your lives easier through smart design. Good, Form & Spectacle is available for a few different kinds of work: data strategy, exploration design, software engineering, and product development.
Research & Development
There's a hum of R&D at Good, Form & Spectacle. We want our R&D to strengthen our client work, and vice versa. Keep an eye on work results on our Work Diary blog.
- Have a play with Netflix-O-Matic, a fun toy we made to help you discover movies you didn't know you wanted to watch. October 2014
- The V&A Spelunker was our first public lo-fi collection explorer. January 2015
- Our first product R&D is Museum in a Box. We continue to explore ideas around content vs collection and the networked object in this fun prototype. We documented our work prototyping V1 in public at Somerset House. It's starting to spin off. March 2015 - ongoing
- The British Museum is the first public museum in the world. Independent of the museum, we made an online explorer called Two Way Street to help you fossick about unattended in its truly global collection. "twoway.st is an *unsolicited interface* - provocative and powerful new methodology" ∞ April 2015
- The Small Museum, is on a slow simmer. It's intended as an ersatz museum we can use to fully explore every element of small museums, and importantly, what sorts of tools they might need. We're at the very beginning of V4 now. ongoing
We are always interested in applied research, so if you’re trying to find a way to develop a concept or build a quick prototype, we can probably help you. We normally charge time and materials for this sort of work, and we favour projects that may be useful to the broader community.
We offer services like making functional prototypes very quickly, helping you see your own data in a new way, collaboratively scoping things, and reporting on something you're interested in. Our clients include:
- Historypin - Helped realign strategic goals towards local history gathering, which included scoping new interaction models and data design
- Tech for Good - Played a "critical friend" and facilitator at a two-day workshop for Comic Relief
- Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Researched and wrote a report on SBT image supply and licensing workflow in the global context
- Wellcome Library - Built a series of rapid-fire digital prototypes, producing What's In The Library? and blogged about it a ton
- British Museum - Built a responsive collection explorer for the stunning Waddesdon Bequest. (We like to call it our Tiny Spelunker.)
- Wellcome Library - Our previous prototyping work (see above) resulted in the release of a new "alpha" Library explorer which carries through many of our prototyped concepts into the public arena.
- Het Nieuwe Instituut - For the fourth instalment of New Archive Interpretations, HNI commissioned George Oates to reflect on ways of highlighting relations between documents, files, and people in digital archives. This mostly resulted in writing: Part I, Part II, and an interview with curator Annet Dekker.
On-Site Installation of Our Team
As our workload allows, we enjoy being thrown into an existing working team for a period of time where we can contribute constructively on-site. We generally charge time and materials for this kind of engagement, unless there’s a very specifically scoped piece of work to get done. A friend described this type of work as a "small, smart bomb squad" which we quite like.
- A good example is our What's In The Library? work with the Wellcome Library in London. "Fascinating and very clever." ∞ July-August 2015
If you're looking for help with a project, please get in touch.
- Email info @ gfns.uk
- Follow @goodformand on Twitter
- Check out our Work Diary blog
Send us a postcard!
4 Bloomsbury Place
We're also using a newsletter thingy called TinyLetter to send out infrequent* email updates.
* When we say infrequent, it's likely you'll have forgotten signing up before you get the next one.
A Fun Side Project
Did you know most of the original Grimms tales had no female characters at all? We've self-published a book of reshaped fairy tales called If Only The Grimms Had Known Alice, to see what it feels like when soldiers are women, kings are queens, and it's daughters who leave home to seek their fortunes.
George Oates, Director
glo @ gfns.uk | @ukglo
George has been working online since 1996. She's a designer, producer, maker; part of the founding team at Flickr, doing interface/copy/system design; invented Flickr Commons, director/designer of Open Library at Internet Archive; art director at Stamen. Now, Good, Form & Spectacle.
George's particular skills lie in designing interfaces people don't have to think about, quickly understanding complex systems, remembering the humans, challenging status quo by asking why a lot, and making people feel comfortable with and excited about change.
She grew up in Adelaide, Australia, and —like many other Arts students—fell onto the internet in the mid-90s, and has deftly made things up since then. With an abiding interest in humanity and culture, she's finally managed to steer her career in that direction after years of learning.
George has spoken internationally about her work (and is happy to do so). She is a non-executive director at The Postal Museum, serves on the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and British Library Labs advisory boards, and is a former research associate of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
Bill Sherman, Board Member Director of Research & Collections, V&A | @billsherman_
Bill Sherman is Director of Research and Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he is leading the development of a V&A Research Institute. He moved to the V&A from the University of York, where he was Director of the Centre for Renaissance & Early Modern Studies. He works on the ways in which objects come down to us from the past, what they pick up along the way, and how they speak across time and space. He is best known for his work on marginalia and has published widely on the history of reading and the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
Camie Bontaites, Advisor
Creative Content Producer, Chabot Space & Science Center | @oslabwest
Camie has her BA in Literature, MA in Anthropology, and PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science. She has worked for the past 8 years at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, CA where she is Creative Content Producer, co-runs their OpenScienceLAB and blogs about the storied side of science. On the side she curates the Liminal Library at the Octopus in Oakland and maps and re-maps Oakland, one idea at a time. She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.
Kate Elswit, Advisor
Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Bristol | kateelswit.org
Kate is obsessed with the relationship between performance and archives. She is an academic, curator, and dancer, and likes when those jobs get mixed-up together. She has published widely on dance and theatre history, performance theory, practice-as-research, and cultural studies, and just finished a book about the strange things spectators claimed to see while watching dance during the Weimar Republic (Oxford University Press, 2014). Her recent performance projects include Future Memory (as dramaturg with choreographer Rani Nair) on the inheritance of dance's tangible and intangible traces, which has been shown at Dansens Hus in Stockholm, the Scenkonst Biennialen in Jönköping, SEAD in Salzburg, and soon at the IGNITE! Festival in New Delhi.
Eliza Gregory, Advisor
Artist | @elizagregory | elizagregory.com
Eliza Gregory is an artist and educator. Her work illuminates diverse experiences in a given community using images, relationships, interactions, interviews, events and many other media. Trained as a fine art photographer, a creative writer and a social practice artist, Eliza lives and works in San Francisco.
Mai Le, Advisor
Doer, Maker, Photo-taker | @mai | fashioni.st
Mai Le has over 16 years of fund development, event production, communications and content creation experience. You may know someone she’s photographed over on her 7 year old street style site: fashioni.st. A native Californian, she specializes in resource development for art and community organizations. She most recently produced the San Francisco Bay Area’s most successful Bike to Work Day in May 2014.
Good, Form & Spectacle aims to establish a multi-disciplinary community of international thinkers, researchers, craftspeople and other practitioners to explore new intellectual territory in the fields of culture, society, art and technology exchange for fun, stimulation, and, well, PROFIT! Research, noodling and experimentation are at the heart of our practice, and many diverse opinions make for better thinking.
So far, we've hosted:
- Thalia Nielson, a Masters of Museum Studies graduate from Dublin
- Eliza Gregory, a social practice artist from San Francisco
- Charlie Cattel-Killick, a sustainable product design student from Cornwall
- Imogen Piper, a Goldsmiths University of London design student
- Michał Moskal, a tinkerer from Microsoft Research
If you'd like to explore a research question with us, please get in touch. Terms of a research residency can be negotiated, and we may be able to provide some in-kind support if the timing is right.
© 2014-2016 • Good, Form & Spectacle Ltd. is registered in England. Company Number: 09431632.