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White Clouds

What if design was a language of liberation?

About us

Pause and Effect is a collective of visionary practitioners guided by a shared vision for inclusive, decolonized, and liberated futures. Rooted in principles of relationality, we view design as a vehicle for liberation and regeneration.

We offer transformative, application based learning experiences, coaching, and consulting for designers and researchers.

At Pause and Effect, we believe that transformation begins with what we practice. We lean into discomfort by examining our own complicity within systems of harm. We learn to get intimate with our restlessness, fragility, and fear of the unknown. We create intentional space for chaos, and embrace it as an essential process for liberatory dreaming. We emphasize authentic relationships with each other and listen with all senses of the body, mind and spirit.

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The Team

Pause and Effect is community made. We express gratitude and recognize our past team members (Jasmine, Yvette, Cherrie, Jacquie, Clementina, Teshyla), our co-conspirators, the land, and our teachers for nourishing our practice.

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Eman Salem


Our Philosophy

Human Centered Design is Dead.

Our Relational Design framework challenges the colonial limitations of Human Centered Design, and invites us to shift towards practices which cultivate responsibility for our collective and individual impact on people, land, and systems.

Through Relational Design, we uproot human-centric, privilege-dominant and extractive ways of doing research and designing our products and services.

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“​​This has been a journey of unpacking and critiquing what Anglo/Euro-centric research typically looks and feels like. It has involved expanding our understanding of the many ways research could be by looking to different perspectives and the land for guidance and teaching. It’s been a journey towards figuring out how I can "shift the needle" in my practice towards more liberatory, caring and relational ways of researching and treating data, recognizing both my power and my constraints.”

Current Learning Experiences

Reimagining Research is designed to stretch your imagination beyond colonial paradigms and constructions of research (often characterized by extraction, power imbalances, and the commodification of knowledge).

It will challenge you to think expansively about your role as a researcher, the work you do, and the agency and responsibility you have to care for yourself and your participants. Our goal is to offer you tools, examples, and provocations that encite rich dialogue and reflection, and transform your practice.

Decolonizing Trauma-Informed Practice is for anyone interested unraveling the colonial underpinnings of conventional trauma-informed practice and exploring more relational and liberatory methodologies.

Through practical examples, we will envision trauma-responsive practices beyond the confines of conventional institutions, emphasizing non-prescriptive, non-pathologized, care-based methodologies.

Deconstructing Coloniality in Design and Research is for self-identifying designers and researchers seeking to understand the quiet ways coloniality is (re)produced through the modern-day approaches. You do not need to be a “professional” or “certified” designer or researcher to attend.

Through specific examples, we will highlight how 9 themes (such as scarcity, extraction, Eurocentric intellectualism, and centralization of power) manifest through common design and research practices.

“In every other research course I've taken, it's been drilled in me to have this mechanistic approach to research. To get what we need, and get out. Be unbiased. Be professional. And this course really challenged me to see what it could look like, sound like, and feel like to engage in research with a depth of care and humanity I honestly had never seen modeled in my career. It truly challenged me to question everything more and see the downstream effects of our actions with greater clarity and understanding.”

The Liberatory Playground

What world do you dream future generations will inhabit?

The Liberatory Playground is an experimental community space for unpacking, reimagining and repatterning our relationship to dominant cultural norms and “ways of being”.

Working with the body and mind, this is a space for processing our associations and experiences of being steeped in a culture shaped by whiteness and coloniality, and for cultivating deeper connection to self, others and the land.

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Mushrooms Growing on a Mossy Tree Stump

“The Liberatory Playground was a care-fully curated space that truly met each participant from wherever and however they arrived, lovingly took them by the hand, and offered a glimpse into other ways of thinking, doing, being, and knowing - which often felt like re-membering and reclaiming ways that felt lost or forgotten at times.”


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The Pause and Effect team designed and executed a thoughtful audit of our product development process. They were able to summarize many trends into a cohesive report, helping us concretely identify and name gaps we previously felt but couldn't quite put our finger on. Their audit helped us begin important conversations on how we can create a more inclusive customer experience at Outschool. We were so happy with the audit that we are continuing to work with Pause and Effect to address some of the product, research and marketing gaps they identified.

- Jing Jin, Outschool

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System changers are often faced with a tension between: 1) making changes within existing systems, or 2) deconstructing the systems to rebuild new ones. I've always leaned towards the first approach. Until I sat in a session by Pause and Effect that challenged my approach and made me reflect thoughtfully on my impact as a researcher. I highly recommend following Pause and Effect if you're interested in research methods that are truly decolonial and inclusive.


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Sometimes a webinar can make you cry because of how transcendental it feels.

Like a breath of fresh air. Like stepping into a room full of people who, like you, refuse to uncritically subscribe to the common delusion that this current way is the only way to do research and design, to build economy, to treat our planet.


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Pause and Effect is our first choice as a product design consultancy. Their approach aligns deeply with our values in bringing greater inclusion to STEAM. Their team partnered with us to develop our member journey maps through an inclusive lens, and built relational design workshops for the youth. Both have truly set us on the right path towards making the impact we desire.

- Anthonia Ogundele, Ethos Lab

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Pause and Effect is located on Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh Nations. As uninvited, displaced and racialized settlers on Turtle Island, we commit to confronting and unlearning practices that maintain the oppression, cultural genocide and harm towards Indigenous peoples, their knowledge systems, lands and waters. This land also carries remembrance of the millions of enslaved Africans who tended to it, and of the thriving Black neighborhoods and economies that have been destroyed under white supremacy.