Tag Archives: design

Rainmakers map their work on to service design process diagram

I’ve been at Rainmaker for three months now. Rainmaker is a consultancy that works primarily with government clients. They put a big emphasis on helping clients understand their user needs. I’m their first service designer associate.

The first project I did with Rainmaker was at HS2; I worked with a colleague Tom Brown who picked up user research skills very naturally and *gets* service design. I’ve just started a contract at BIS.

Tom and I gave a talk yesterday about service design and user research, and used the project at HS2 as an example. (More on the HS2 project another time.)

The feedback we got from the presentation was very positive: Rainmaker values align closely with service design principles, and there is an appetite for the service design mindset to be spread across Rainmaker projects.


Where does your work fit in to, or support, this process?

We asked Rainmakers to map how their individual skills and activities mapped on to a diagram of the service design process.



Delivery Managers, event organisers and CEOs mapped their activities in their own ways. They marked on with hearts where they particularly enjoyed the process.



I found this interesting as an exercise because it enabled non-service designers to begin to see their work through the lens of a service design process. It also enabled me as a new member of Rainmaker to better understand the skills and approaches of others, which can help me know how to work with them better.


We could do a similar exercise when a new project team is formed. We could ask for people to mark stars on skills they feel particularly good at, as well as hearts to show what they enjoy, and this could help us know how to best share out the work according to their skills, approach and interest.


Thanks to all the Rainmakers that participated!

Leave a comment

Filed under My current work, Rainmaker

A Framework for Creating Thriving New Communities: Social Life


Social Life wrote this report ‘Design for Social Sustainability‘ in 2012.

I’ve taken out key pages – the ones with the really helpful diagrams – to make it quicker for you to get the useful bits. Read the report for contextual insights.

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 13.24.26

Reference 39 is: Mulgan, G. (January 2009) Feedback and belonging: Explaining the dynamics of diversity Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Ideas

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

1 Comment

Filed under Design Inspiration, Designers, Ideas, My current work

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 steve_douch@yahoo.co.uk or follow him on Twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Design show, Designers, Ideas

Design and Education in Rural America

This is a great example of how using design in a school can have a wider impact on the community. Project H has not only redesigned school spaces in a small rural American town, it has also developed a design education programme where the students collectively build useful projects for their community – one a year. This year they are going to build a farmer’s market, then a bus shelter next year, then home improvements for the elderly in the third year.

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 12.52.20

Perhaps projects such as Enabling Technology could be brought to life through working with schools in the same way?

Leave a comment

Filed under Design Inspiration, Ideas

Upcoming events I’m going to

DB 16
19-22 Sept

Designersblock Edition 16 takes place in partnership with Southbank Centre.
Inspire — Experience — Interact— Explore
New furniture, lighting, textiles, ceramics and jewellery from 60 Uk and International independent designers.
International pavilions – Ung Svensk Form – La Tlapaleria diseno mexicano – India Art n Design
Designers in Production – New work from established designers and companies.
The Fifth element – Science Tecnology and Process in Design – 30 cutting edge projects.
Programme – Conference Workshops Screenings Presentations

19-22 Sept

How to replicate social impact across the UK: Research launch
26 Sept

Why do so many high potential social change organisations fail to scale up and replicate? What can they, you, and the sector, do to change this?

The International Centre for Social Franchising (www.the-icsf.org) will be sharing insights to answer these questions based on research for Big Lottery Fund. Findings, based on a survey of 150 social organisations and in-depth interviews with 15, will include the main barriers facing social organisations attempting to replicate and interventions to address them. The event will be valuable for both organisations seeking to improve scale up across the social sector in the UK and those replicating their own projects. Speakers from the ICSF, Big Lottery Fund and interviewees from the research will address the audience for 40 minutes, after which there will be drinks, light snacks and networking.

ClearlySo Tea Time Q
12 Sept and 14 Nov

ClearlySo invites you to come in to our offices for a chat over tea and coffee.
This is a perfect opportunity to meet in an informal environment, discuss all sorts of issues affecting you and your business – and get your caffeine fix at the same time!!!
Entrepreneurs, existing or prospective will be invited to ask anything, challenge us or just listen in. The session will be chaired by one of our senior investment team. It’s a chance for us to give out advice and take advantage of the peer learnings and relationships that develop during each of ClearlySo popular tea-time gatherings.

KK Outlet
12-28 Sept

To celebrate the London Design Festival this September, KK Outlet and leading food, arts, and culture journal The Gourmand are combining forces to present a series of exhibitions, talks, and dinners that celebrate food as a catalyst for creativity.

Perfume, Sir? – Designmarketo
17-21 Sept

Enter DesignMarketo’s world of fragrance. Discover Pepper under new forms. Enjoy specially commissioned objects by a range of versatile designers, scents, flavours, workshops, fine dining and cocktails inspired by and infused with Pepper!

Only one week to explore your senses and experience anew. See the ordinary as unordinary…

RCA Battersea Projects: Mind The Gap
15-23 Sept

How to introduce spontaneity and play into highly controlled environments, such as train stations?
RCA Battersea Projects: Life Examined – by the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates 2013
15-23 Sept

Life Examined is a presentation of design projects by the 2013 Helen Hamlyn Research Associates that could help improve people’s lives. Socrates famously observed that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Here the theme of ‘life examined’ reflects the emphasis on in-depth user research with different groups of people.

Generally I will be hopping around the Brompton Design District next weekend.

Mindapples: Meet Your Mind
25 Sept

You rely on your mind for everything you do, but how much do you know about how it works, or how to use it?
Join us for our upcoming event, part of the Mindapples’ Your Mind: A User’s Guide series, to learn about how your mind works and how to get the most from it.
Featuring interactive exercises exploring how we think, how to take care of our minds and how we influence each other, this is a fun introduction to mental wellbeing and using your mind effectively in life and work.

Here’s one that I want to go to but can’t:

The Happy Start-Up School Summer Camp
20 Sept

Whether you’re at the idea stage, have already started up or are just looking for inspiration on how to build a happy company, this day will help you get better at business and life. A hands-on day of workshops and talks where you’ll learn how to create a happy, thriving business, meet some amazing people and have some fun in a stunning location in the heart of Hyde Park. We promise it will be a day to remember.

See you there!

All images are from respective linked-to websites.

Leave a comment

Filed under Design show



For four months now, I have been working for Circle. Circle is a not-for-profit service that brings people over 50 together through social, learning and wellbeing events. The aim is to tackle the growing problem of isolation amongst older people, whilst not relying on the welfare state. The events include local coffee afternoons, theatre and seaside trips, rambles, and how-to-use-Facebook sessions. People make friends and they have the opportunities to try new things.

Participle is a service design agency which tackles social problems through coming up with ideas for start-up services, and they came up with the idea of Circle. I have admired Participle’s work for a few years, so I am thrilled to be working for them. Circle has been around since 2009, so we have an office separate from Participle’s, but in the same office complex in Bermondsey near London Bridge. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under My current work