Hefin Jones: Socially engaged design

Hefin Jones is the designer behind Cosmic Colliery and the Welsh Space Campaign, two socially focussed design projects.

London-Based interdisciplinary designer, Hefin Jones is the founder of the Welsh Space Campaign and the Cosmic Colliery, two projects that the designer describes as having a “social focus”.

The Welsh Space Campaign started in 2012. It reimagined the role of Welsh industries, culture, skills and traditions in the cosmic context. Hefin combined traditional crafts and Welsh heritage with the iconography of space travel and the result was a space suit designed and made by local wool and crafts-people, plumbers and clog makers.

Jones also produced a short documentary, which includes interviews with his family and members of the local Welsh community who helped design the space suit. The project aimed to show that Wales has the capacity to explore outer space.

Jones’ latest project, the Cosmic Colliery, was born out of the research methodologies used in the Welsh Space Campaign. Collieries are a part of the buildings and equipment associated with coal mining. Jones explains that there are a number of empty and abandoned collieries in Wales, owned by “fascinating characters”. 

“The one [colliery] that I focused on in this project was owned by a property developer who used to be an acid house DJ in South London and now he’s come into possession of a coal mine,” says Jones.

Cosmic Colliery considers how Welsh communities could play a role in the future of space travel. It suggests ways that disused mines could be converted into underwater astronaut training centres.

Jones’ projects are driven by people: “I definitely see my role within design as a way to facilitate the relationships between people and get people together to think big.”