Category Archives: Designers

Managing Client Demands

Last night I went to a talk by Arthur Irving from Skylark. The talk was organised by London Web.

The talk was about managing client expectations. It was an insightful talk, with ideas that I hope to incorporate into my business practice.

Arthur described the process he used to work with clients and tactics he used to dealing with clients. He said that he had made every kind of mistake with clients, and so he was in a position to give advice. He said that initially he blamed the client for problems such as not getting paid on time, but then he realised that the only person to blame was himself.

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2015-01-15 20.16.31 Continue reading

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What is designerly about service design?


Today at Central Saint Martins I took part in a debate about whether we need specialisms in design. I argued for the movement: I am a service designer, and you need specialist service design skills to be an effective service designer. Continue reading

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The Best Graduate Project at New Designers


Stephen Douch‘s project, Last Orders, is one of the very few projects that have stuck in my memory from New Designers. Too often New Designers is a load of unoriginal, not innovative, same old regurgitated ideas. Stephen was studying a design MA at Central Saint Martins under one of my old tutors Matt Malpass.


The project deals with something deeper than designer’s typical concerns. It doesn’t come from a place totally preoccupied with design theory about form and function. It comes from a place of social concern. It’s about our societal norms and problems. Our British relationship with death is not necessarily as healthy as it could be. Last Orders attempts to improve the services around death, for the person who dies as well as people around them.

And it’s all done with a huge attention to detail: the user experience is meticulously thought out. The designer had an answer for every question I could think to ask. He is actively seeking partners to take this idea forward, so please do get in contact (contact details upon request) – particularly if you work in the Department of Work and Pensions.


In Stephen Douch’s words:
It is becoming too expensive for the poor to die. The average cost of dying has risen by 80% since 2004 to £7,622 and almost 1 in 5 people intend to leave their funeral cost to family and friends or the State. Society faces a perfect storm of economic stagnation, an aging population and a poverty gap not seen since the Victorian era. Without change we may see a return of the pauper’s funeral.

This proposal is intended to explore how death poverty can be addressed against a backdrop of state welfare cuts, where providing more money simply isn’t an option. It explores the role death rituals play in modern British society and critiques the material culture found in the funeral industry.

The goal of this study is to understand if benefits can be gained by de-sanitising death, and attempts to leverage rampant individualism to re-imagine modern death rituals. In changing preconceptions to funeral rites this study highlights that both the poor and wider society can regain ownership of their deaths but concludes with a need to reconsider legislative and political ideology.


The Product
A joint public and private sector service which enables people to plan for their end of life, free of charge. Last Orders brings families together to help plan for the future and prepares them for the eventual passing of a loved one.

Last Orders is a global approach to issues surrounding death poverty. It attempts to exclude stigmatisation through inclusivity. By people choosing to be different it will become more acceptable to make economy funeral choices. Although this may have its detractors they will have to contend with the fact that it’s “what he/she would have wanted”. It’s hard to contend with that statement when the person who made it has died.

In Issuing their Last Orders individuals perform a selfless act which provides emotional support to loved ones and breaks reliance on the state. It aims to break down the taboos surrounding death through frank conversations, freeing people from the standardised funeral by focussing on their preferences for simplicity, certainty and affordability.


Graphic design guidance: Maki Ota.

Talk to the designer: email him at or follow him on Twitter.

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Design and Entrepreneurship

Image from Designersblock website

During Designersblock at the Southbank Centre this year, there was an excellent lecture series. I attended the Design and Entrepreneurship seminar, despite being exhausted from running my own workshop that day – and I was very glad I did. Here are some inspiring quotations.

You need rigour of thinking… Fake it til you make it.Daljit Singh

How do you cope with risk of failure?
Put distance between yourself and your project. Believe that it will work. Accept that risk is a part of it.Russell Pinch
Make mistakes at other people’s cost [don’t start out as an entrepreneur, start your own business when you have learnt enough from other projects]. Fail fast.Michael George Hemus

Design is making a conscious decision about the future.

Create demand for skills that exist through marketing and communication. Create opportunities by seeing and understanding circumstances, and reaction.Paul Bishop
Read: If you build it, will they come? – Peter Thiel

A good entrepreneur is a Master Jack of All Trades – it takes a long time to get there.Michael George Hemus

Always employ someone that scares you because they’re better than you at something.Russell Pinch

It might all end tomorrow – that motivates me to do whatever I can today. It takes a huge amount of energy and stops me from enjoying the fruits of my labour, and my relationships can suffer.Paul Bishop
That attitude will help you achieve a great deal professionally. But is it worth it? This happens a great deal with high achievers.

Thanks for the advice guys. There was much more in this talk that came up that I didn’t record. Hope to see something similar again next year.

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Enabling Technology: Creating an Inclusive Approach to Digital Technology


RCA Battersea is a long way from Bounds Green, or anywhere else that I normally go. On arrival at the Dyson Building, the exhibition seems small and it makes you doubt whether it was worth the journey. But IT DEFINITELY IS. Invest a bit of time in understanding the ideas. They’re all condensed into a relatively tiny amount of space for the scope they reach. Enabling Technology was my favourite project. It made me consider the problems that people with disabilities encounter every day. We take our sight and movement for granted. I never imagined until the point I saw the project that it might be difficult for someone to use a computer mouse.

IMG_2839_forweb Continue reading

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Tuesday night, London Design Week

Last night we went on the party trail around Shoreditch for London Design Week. Fortuitously we timed most things perfectly – bumping in to friends who knew the person on the door (thank you for going in to PR Sarah), or coming very early so the door people wanted to fill up the space, or so late that they didn’t care any more.

The variety was brilliant – Lee Broom‘s party and Masion Trois Garcons parties had cocktails and canapes a-flowing in beautiful settings. I was genuinely impressed by some of the work on display – images to follow.
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The Happiness Machine

Alice Osborne and Ella Britton have created a Letter Writing Machine. They put it into action on Saturday at the Knee High Play Space in Gabriel’s Wharf. Continue reading

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A Light Conversation

I featured Amanda Ames’ phone last year when she graduated from Central Saint Martins. She has now made a short film to highlight the problem that the phone ‘A Light Conversation’ is addressing. We’re socialising with one click rather than interacting in a more authentic way.

My argument that face to face meeting should be encouraged rather than phone conversation still stands. How about a Filofax which lights up when you haven’t made any dates to see your friends recently? Maybe that could work as an app on a digital diary, on your smart phone…? It’s not as charming as something physical and non-digital which lights up though.

Watch the video and decide what you think about the problem.

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Wordle is a text to image generator that my brother just showed me. I put in the URL of my website and this is what it came up with! It’s quite interesting to see which words come up.

Think about using it when you don’t have an image for a presentation or article or something… it can liven things up.

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The Story of SuperBetter

This is a moving video about how a game can help you to live longer.

SuperBetter is a game about helping people increase their positivity and resilience by doing small tasks such as shaking someone’s hand or getting up out of your chair every hour. It’s a lovely story, and watching this video could increase your life span by 7.5 minutes! Or even by 10 years if you take it seriously enough.

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