alice hawthorn

Social solutions for MS sufferers

IHT's Alice Rawsthorn has written about Live|Work's recent work with the NHS. livework

"The result shows how the young, increasingly fashionable discipline of service design can work in practice by tackling a serious social problem."

"Service design is one of the new disciplines that are redefining design by taking it into the realm of what's called "user experience." This is business school gobbledygook for ensuring that services (everything from online bank accounts to airline booking systems) can be used easily and efficiently. The service designer literally designs every aspect of the customer's experience by applying the type of thinking that designers use intuitively in conventional projects, such as analyzing problems and inventing unexpectedly effective solutions. Often they do this in collaboration with other specialists, like anthropologists and economists. Good service design schemes are so intelligently planned and executed that we barely need to think about whether we're using them correctly. The bad ones (and, sadly, we've all suffered from them) are confusing, inefficient and infuriating. How often have you been flummoxed by an impenetrable online booking system or call center?"


"Not so long ago the public sector officials would have scoffed at the suggestion that designers could do more than fuss over glossy brochures, but that's changing. There is now a growing realization that many public services are no longer fit for purpose and a willingness to experiment with new approaches when reinventing them - including service design."

Emerging breed: Service and Social

Alice Hawthorn discusses Creative Solutions in Tough Times in the International Herald Tribune "...the recession will also create opportunities for designers to help us to adjust to economic austerity. Consumers will still want to score sustainability points, but to save money while doing so. The new cadre of "service designers," who apply design thinking to help organizations structure themselves more efficiently and behave differently, will be called upon to develop new business models to address this.

The economic crisis has also squashed any lingering doubts about the urgency of finding new ways to address acute social problems more efficiently - from caring for the expanding elderly population, to improving the management of over-stretched health care services. This newfound realism is already benefiting the emerging breed of "social designers."

Another question is whether designers are ready to respond to these challenges, as "service" and "social" design involve very different skills to conventional design practice..."

Thanks Nick!