Michael-Owen Liston || Interaction and Service Designer

Design, Collaborate, and Listen

I’m passionate about the intersection of human needs, technology, and design. I currently work as an interaction and service design consultant, alongside independent project work. I am based at present in Toronto, Canada, but am available to travel or relocate worldwide. My previous clients and partners include the New York Public Library, and SickKids Hospital in Toronto. I have experience working in Agile product environments, leading small project teams, and teaching workshops. I am a graduate of the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design IDP class of 2015.

As a creative and critical generalist, I love wrangling with the full spectrum of the designer’s toolkit, from strategic people-craft, to the not-so-fuzzy front end of the web, but I believe that deep listening, synthesis, and storytelling form the pillars of my practice. I’ve begun to explore the potential of video as a powerful tool for both prototyping and documentation throughout my process, and I’m excited to develop that skill-set further.

København Kommune Presentation

Let’s get in touch!

Reach me by email at michaelowen.liston@gmail.com.

I am happy to get texts or calls at +1-647-574-3325, however please be aware I’m traveling a lot at the moment and that number may or may not be active.

You should Connect, Follow, and Fork me here:

Other Work and Community Projects

My current personal projects include TikilluaritSMS, a service I co-developed with Copenhagen’s Greenlandic Inuit community. It’s an SMS chatbot service that makes support and resources more accessible through conversational, natural language. I am honoured that my IxDA 2016 Student Design Challenge submission “SMS Chatbots for Civic Engagement”, which was based largely off of this work, was selected as a finalist entry.

I’m developing a series of workshops for designers and others who would like to make use of video storytelling techniques in their practice, which I hope to launch in the spring of 2016. Get in touch if you’re interested in learning more, or have ideas of your own!

Together with the mighty Linn Vizard I co-founded Service Design Toronto in 2012. We hosted regular meetups and workshops, bringing together people from across a range of disciplines and backgrounds who were interested in furthering discussion around and developing the city’s emergent practice of service design.

Background and B-Sides

Prior to entering the design field, I toured and recorded as a freelance double bassist for over a decade. Sometimes I play clawhammer banjo, but I swear there’s an explanation. I think minimal and melodic tech-house is pretty fantastic, and I fall hard for the viola da gambas, lutes, and madrigals of the 16th-17th Centuries, every single time.

I’ve also worked at various frontline mental health and harm reduction projects in both Vancouver and Toronto, including InSite, North America’s first supervised injection site. I try to bring a critical and informed perspective about social justice issues to my practice of design, and I believe that awareness makes me a much stronger designer.

Colophon: Designing Critically, Thinking Critically

I built the current site you’re looking at as a minimalistic static site, using Jekyll. I’d used WordPress in the past, but I wanted to challenge myself to avoid unnecessary bulk as a healthy part of streamlining both my design process and the final site itself. My motivation is about more than efficiency for its own sake, however; a dynamic WordPress site consumes more energy every time it’s compiled, whether crunching databases on the server side or dumping heaps of scripts onto the client’s browser, and I wanted to push myself to engage with the conspicuously neglected resource-consumption realities of the web. It’s an undeniably small-scale intervention, if you can call it that, but if you’ve read this far, it’s been worth it!

Service Design Sketching