Hillary Carey [she/her]

Hillary Carey [she/her]

PhD in Transition Design


Hillary Carey is a designer, researcher, & educator who focuses on participatory, community-oriented design and imagining futures for racial justice. Hillary will complete her dissertation in December of 2023, tentatively titled, “Social Design Dreaming: Critically conscious collaborative visions.” She also works as a design leadership coach at DesignDept.co, where she guides design leaders in educational workshops and one-on-one coaching.


Carey, Hillary and Alexandra To. (2023). “Lots of extra time and privilege to just dream of utopia”: Barriers to long-term visioning in racial justice workJournal of Futures Studies.

Carey, Hillary. (2023). Social Design Dreaming: Everyday Speculations for Social ChangeTemes de Disseny #39.

Carey, Hillary, and Mia Blume. (2023). "Communicating Visions for Design: the STOVE Framework.Design Management Review 34, no. 2 (2023): 30-37. 

Carey, Hillary, Madeline Sides, and Erica Dorn. (2022). "Articulating theories of change towards more just and transformative design practices."in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao.

Carey, Hillary, Rachel Arredondo, Mihikaa Bansal, and Christophera Costes.(2021). "Envisioning New Futuring Models: Past, Plurality, and Positionality." In Congress of the International Association of Societies of Design Research, 3618-3618.

Carey, Hillary, Chris Costes, and Mihika Bansal. (2021). "Gleaning Racial Justice Futures: Past promises and an unequal present." In Proceedings of RSD10: Relating Systems Thinking & Design Symposium, 399-405.

Carey, Hillary, Alexandra To, Jessica Hammer, and Geoff Kaufman. (2020). "Fictional, interactive narrative as a foundation to talk about racism." In Companion publication of the 2020 ACM designing interactive systems conference, 171-177.

Carey, Hillary. (2020). "Anti-Oppression Mindsets for Collaborative Design." In Boess, S., Cheung, M. and Cain, R. (eds.), Synergy - DRS International Conference 2020, 11-14. 


In the engaged community of Oakland, California, Hillary directed in-depth user research at her firm, Winnow Research Studio, for seven years. Focused on understanding and finding patterns in what matters most to people, she loves in-context interviews and rich synthesis. Hillary is particularly interested in creative ways to incorporate iterative and tangible learning tools, such as cultural probes and collaborative prototyping in a range of design processes. Through Winnow's work with Kaiser Permanente, she has practiced participatory innovation techniques-- designing the space, technology, roles, and flows of medical buildings alongside workers and cross-disciplinary teams.

Teaching as an adjunct at the college level has been an essential part of continuing to learn. Hillary worked with the Industrial Design and Interaction Design departments at California College of the Arts to teach Design Methods and Research as well as to develop the research component of Senior Studio. Additionally, she taught Design Thinking and Innovation to graduate-level journalism students at the Northwestern campus in San Francisco.

Her dissertation inquiry combines the complex social challenge of racism and racism-denial in the United States with the creative work of materializing visions of better futures. In what ways can design support long-term visions of a better, more just, more healed society for everyone, so that these visions help shift mindsets toward more engagement in racial justice efforts.