ben reason

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?

Service Thinking

Livework's perspective on Service Thinking is creating infectious enthusiasm. Ralf Beuker, Nick Marsh,David Armano and Experientia have all highlighted Liveworks latest article - which discusses Service Thinking.

"The future demands fresh perspectives. Service Thinking provides just that."

The focus of the article is on people, networks and sustainability.


"Consider three pressing issues: healthcare, the environment, and finance. They are all vital to the quality of our lives. Yet in all three areas we have reached the limits of industrial thinking. In the future, the solutions lie with a service approach.

The goal of Service Thinking and Service Design is to maximise the potential of services and to create shared value for organisations and their customers. This value is measured in the personal, social and environmental capital created by great services. At live|work we call this value Service Equity. And this, we believe, is the future."

Service thinking in the NHS

Livework's Ben Reason applies service thinking to recently published NHS report  High Quality Care for All by Lord Darzi. On Saturday night, my eyes were opened to the vast difference between the accident and emergency services offered in Scotland and England. The latter offering an appalling 'service'...

The prime minister introduces the report: "Lord Darzi’s report is a tremendous opportunity to build an NHS that provides truly world class services for all. It requires Government to be serious about reform, committed to trusting frontline staff and ready to invest in new services and new ways of delivering services. It is a bold vision for an NHS which is among the best healthcare systems in the world – a once in a generation opportunity that we owe it to ourselves and our families to take."


"... services need to be more effectively designed around the needs of children and families, delivered not just in health settings but also in schools and children’s centres."

"Let’s make the shift to service thinking, embrace personalization and start designing for Darzi."

This is article represents the huge challenge that service designers face. it also portray the urgency for change and the true understanding of patient experience.

Livework do mortgages

Live|work Directors, Ben Reason & Chris Downs apply Service Thinking to the credit crunch and financial services. "Services adapt and change to meet the changing needs of customers. The future of mortgages lies in offering radically new types of services that at the same time resurrect older values.

We need simple things. Such as statements that are easy to understand, or interest rates that are explained in English. We need to see costs and understand the risks clearly. We need important things. Such as help planning for life events like having a baby or illness. We may even need contentious things. Perhaps lenders could share the risk if things go bad — and the benefit if things go well."

Patients in Service Design


In this Autumn’s edition of In View, a founder of live|work Ben Reason talks about the importance of Service Thinking for innovation in healthcare. The report focuses on patient-centered innovation.

The term 'Service Thinking' is described as a new way of thinking about services that starts with the individual not the organisation. A perspective that changes the way we look at the world.

"We need to support people to lead healthy lives, stay out of hospital and feel good. That requires a shift from traditional product thinking – treat the patient when they become ill; to service thinking – support the patient’s health and wellbeing."

I am eager to read more on this phrase 'Service Thinking' . I am still unraveling 'Design Thinking'...