Livework in Icon's Top 20

The New Pioneers: Ben Reason is one of the top 20 most influential designers. 252

Ben Reason, founder of live|work is listed in the top 20 most influential designers who are shaping the future, in this months issue of The Icon:

Ben Reason’s raw material is systems. The initiator of ‘service design’ company live|work, Reason is putting the increasingly influential idea of generic ‘design thinking’ into practice, using it to try and solve social problems.

Reason set up the studio with two industrial designers to solve social issues by hacking into defunct services and re-organising them, linking them with others, or building them afresh. The studio represents the expansion of design into a new area, but although it’s a relatively new approach, it’s truer to the more traditional idea of design than many practices working today – to improve the way we live.

So far the studio has initiated a project in Sunderland to help get locals on incapacity benefit back to work. They built a 280 strong network connecting local employers with specialist carers such as mental health and drug rehabilitation organisations. Among the 800 helped was a former heroin addict, who thanks to a chat between his carers and some local employers is now a trained forklift truck driver. Another project was with Streetcar, a pay-as-you-go car-sharing service in London. While the idea was already in operation, it was down to the service designers to turn it into a desirable product and make it successful.

Service design has taken a back seat to capitalism – but as our systems continue to dissolve into Pynchonian chaos, service design will be needed to make sense of the sprawl and link it up. ‘We want to get involved with things on a national scale,’ says Reason. ‘There are lots of things that are wrong and they don’t have to be. A bit of design in organisations like the NHS is needed.’

Interview by Anna Baites The Icon 20/20 Issue 071 May 2009

Congratulations to Ben and everyone who lives and works with him!!

I would like to understand exactly what the phrase "Pynchonian chaos" means? Any theories?

2020 Public Service Trust

"The 2020 Public Services Trust at the RSA is a new, independent, think tank, which brings together policy makers, public service managers, civil servants, business and third sector leaders and consumer voices to debate and research how to improve public services." 3125836898_23708b6607

  • What will be the characteristics required of public services to respond to the new challenges of 2020 Britain and what will the basis of the social contract between the individual and the state?
  • How can social cohesion be maintained in the context of greater diversity and the development of personalised public services?
  • How can behavioural challenges, both at a community and individual level, best be responded to?
  • What organisational framework would be needed to deliver 2020 public services, how would they be paid for?
  • How can citizens be properly empowered over public services, what role should the central state play, what should be devolved to local level?
  • And how can we move towards a system based on commissioning for better outcomes?

Join Ben Lucas, director of the 2020 Public Services Trust, Alan Johnson MP, Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA to discuss public health. On Thursday 19 March at 10am Public Health: how to influence behaviour - nudge or nanny?

The perils of infectious disease, which shaped the NHS in the 20th century, have largely receded. The majority of illness in this country is caused by poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise. Poor health is disproportionately seen in disadvantaged communities, where poor local services and limited opportunities to exercise conspire with poor education and low aspiration.

The great challenge for policy makers is how to influence people's behaviour - if health and wellbeing is to a large part decided by the day-to-day choices that people make, then when and how should the government intervene?

Imagine 2020

CNN and Ericsson are looking at the future in 2020. This site contains information on the future of nature, cities, space, living spaces, community, health, transport, and education.

The future of community looks at internet mums, virtual worlds, viral web crazes, with interviews from World Changing's Alex Steffen. The future of education looks at e-classrooms, virtual learning and wikipedia.

"Where classes take place in cafes and record shops -- and anyone can be a teacher ..."

Try out the online tests, go and explore the future. These future scenarios are full of design responsibility and opportunity...