sophia parker

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.


I have discovered a fantastic new blog Spark. This creation focusing on people, conversation and ideas, belongs to Sophia Parker; co-author of the public service design publication The Journey to the Interface. picture-61

Sophia was a key figure in research for my dissertation; An exploration into the evolving field of Service Design. I would really like to meet her one day...I look forward to reading her posts in the mean time :)