Social Animals

Picture 17 Social Animals: Tomorrow's designers in today's world was released on Monday, written by the inspirational Sophia Parker.

This is the most relevant and worthwhile report I have read recently. It is a must read for all designers who are on a social mission, students, design educators...the list goes on.

The paper addresses:

"The tensions and contradictions of service design: the most appreciable design movement of our times."

The reality that social design is a mind set  not a curriculum reinforces the core of my Masters project "A guide to a new mindset" .

I believe it is important that students realise it is not about product design or service design it is about good design with a social brief. I was intriguied to discover that only 6% of UK Design Firms focus soley on service...not quite sure how I feel about that statistic.

Social Animals has been causing quite a stir although has received some criticism from Kenneth Fitzgerald who tweeted about the "Jargon, buzzwords, wild generalizations, the obvious restated"

What do you think?

Design education to focus more on the design of services

The Royal Society of Arts is calling for design education to focus more on the design of services and move away from what it says is an emphasis on product and industrial design. 3369437997_d0a9b56973

"An RSA paper released today, Social Animals: Tomorrow’s Designers in Today’s World, says students need to gain a broader range of communication and research skills to help them work within public services.

It outlines six challenges for design educators, among them the suggestion that students should be taught how to be ‘problem finders’ as well as problem solvers, to help find new ways of delivering public services.

RSA head of design Emily Campbell says, ‘We are currently seeing huge opportunities arising in service innovation, which stems from all the time trying to get public service providers to invest in service design.’

She adds, ‘Generally speaking design schools are not preparing for that at the moment.’

The paper, which was authored by Sophia Parker and emerged from this year’s RSA Design Directions award competition, also looks at how redesigning prison visits could benefit inmates and their families and reduce reoffending rates.

It suggests strategies such as creating a system of visiting ‘pods’ to offer enhanced privacy, and introducing virtual prison visits through a secure Internet connection.

Campbell says, ‘Recently announced plans for new prisons holding 1500 offenders each to be built in the next decade provide Government with a real opportunity to “build in” recognition of the importance of design in modelling and prototyping facilities.

‘There is an ongoing debate about the role designers could have in improving health and education services. Here is an opportunity to bring those skills to the prison environment, which provides us all with an essential public service.’"

This is a crucial topic that is at the heart of my research question (pictured above).  I am happy to see my undergraduate experience of product design courses not embracing service design echoed in this call for change in design education.

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?

Douceurs for RSA

degreeshow In December I collated all the work I did for my honours project Douceurs and developed a project website to show all the research, development and service design stages. I have entered this into the RSA Design Directions 2008/2009 brief, After the Post Office:

"Britain faces high levels of post office closures. In the face of new technologies, far greater choice in how services are accessed and changing lifestyles, people are visiting post offices less, making the present level of service unsustainable. However, it remains the case that in many communities, the local post office still plays an important social and economic role.

In this context, the project seeks to uncover a new service designed to replace the post office or an aspect of it, taking into account its formal and more informal role. Questioning their role and relevance may lead to some surprising and innovative responses"

See the full project here (and wish me luck!) The short-lists are announced in April :)

Think Again

MindplanJim Rokos project 'Mind - plan' won the RSA Design Directions 2008 award for the category 'Think Again'. Mind-plan is a tool to help with the recovery from severe mental illness. John Kentish, Head of Health Psychology at St. Mary's Hospital's Clarence Wing commented:

“To the best of my knowledge there is no other similar tool as yet. Until now people have used pen and paper to plan their activities. The Mind Plan is more fun to use so is more likely to be used. It is very graphic and activities stand out in a way that is not possible with pen and paper. Activities can easily be moved around which is not so easy with a paper version. I think the strongest point is that it looks fun to use as well as clearly indicating the planned activities.”