Design Research, Facilitation, and Futures


design research, facilitation, futures


“Humans live as functions of their objects.” Vilém Flusser


Hi, I’m Thomas Wendt. This is my design practice (formerly called Surrounding Signifiers, now called Rhiza).

I’ve been doing design research for about 10 years. The first four were spent working full time at agencies and internal innovation teams at a few big companies. After that, I went off on my own, freelancing for all types of organizations. Some project highlights include:

  • Concept testing for a workshop on recognizing and understanding implicit racial bias for a large coffee retailer.

  • Consulting, designing curriculum, and facilitating workshops to roll out an innovation program for a large non-profit.

  • Exploratory research for a large news publication to find ways to enable collaborative game play.

  • Leading a research team for an internal innovation team at an airline manufacturer.

  • Facilitating a speculative workshop on what oral health care might look like in 5-10 years for an insurance company.

  • Multi-year project to help introduce design methods education to a financial services company.

Contact me for more detail.

Design is more than a job for me. Acting with intention and purpose is not uniquely human, but it seems that humans are the only species who struggle with augmenting their surroundings in ways that don’t limit their capacity to survive. Designers must to ensure their decisions are based on ecological responsibility, not just profit. Every design decision is a political and ethical decision.

I spend my personal time working on my homestead in the Adirondack foothills, foraging for wild foods, mushroom farming, tending food forests and perennial gardens, hiking, and generally spending as much time in the forest as possible.