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Dean Dori Tunstall receives prestigious 2022 Sir Misha Black Medal

A headshot of Dr. Dori Tunstall with mauve flowers in her hair, looking to one side.

Image: Dr. Dori Tunstall   Photo credit: Omii Thompson 

Dr. Dori Tunstall, Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD University, has been selected to receive the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education for 2022.

The only international award of its kind, the Sir Misha Black Medal is awarded collaboratively by Britain’s leading design and engineering organizations to individuals across the globe who have made a significant contribution to design education.

Dr. Tunstall received the medal at a ceremony in London, England on October 12 where she delivered a short address on her philosophy on design education.

The Awards Committee lauded Dr. Tunstall’s approach to innovation in design education for resonating ‘far beyond this field and true to the principles initially championed by Sir Misha Black in his work, now more than forty-six years ago, at both the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.’

“It moves my soul to have my commitment to a diverse inclusive and decolonial design education recognized by my global peers,” said Dr. Tunstall.  “To be the first Black woman to be awarded the Sir Misha Black Medal contributes to my mission to open possibilities for future Black women and femmes in design, while also expanding them for others.”

Dr. Tunstall’s core teaching values centre on respectful design, diversity, inclusion and decolonization.  She encourages her students to ‘be’ in the world rather than ‘act solely as they see the world.’ 

In her many addresses to diverse audiencesDr. Tunstall has given more than 30 keynote addresses on five continents on Respectful Designshe emphasizes that “many design institutions are interested in diversity and inclusion yet seem unwilling or unable to do the work of ‘decolonizing’ design through a critical engagement with design and culture.”   

Dr. Tunstall advocates that this work consists of two simultaneous actions:  the recognition of the intrinsic worth of different cultural ways of ‘design being’ and the systematic dismantling of current structural hierarchies.  Her book on the subject, Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook is due to be published in 2023 by MIT Press.

As the Dean of Design at OCAD U since 2016, Dr. Tunstall has been probing the value of design in organizing and optimizing human society for much longer. Her design practice and research are informed by her belief that design can help to advance equality, democracy, fairness and human connection.

Dr. Tunstall plays a vital role in embedding Respectful Design education across wider public and private organizations and government policy.  She serves on the Board of SheEO, Canadian Art Foundation, the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Covid Recovery Group and the UK Design Council’s Design Economy Ambassador Group.

About the Sir Misha Black Medal

Set up to commemorate the legacy of Sir Misha Black, the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education is awarded to individuals across the globe who have made a significant contribution to design education. All recipients of the Sir Misha Black Medal are automatically enrolled in the College of Medallists, a position they hold for life. First awarded in 1978, the Medal began life as a biennial event but has since become an annual date within the design world calendar.

In 2020, the Sir Misha Black Awards Committee came under the wing of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. The inclusion of the Sir Misha Black Awards in the Royal Commission’s portfolio reinforces the Commission’s mission to “increase the means of industrial education and extend the influence of science and art upon productive industry.”