Service Innovation

Last week I went along to a talk by Lucy Kimbell organised by Prof Teal Triggs at London College of Communication. This event was designed for PhD design-led research students and touched upon the social aspects of service innovation. The concept of 'Design Thinking' has become heavily adopted within big corporations and organisations to pitch creative strategies as a vehicle to implement new concepts, products and services. Through application design thinking works alongside non designers who are invited to participate within the design process. Design then becomes a portable practice and new thinking is approached through action. But what does this actually mean?

This was Lucy's starting point and she took us on a journey over the next 90 mins to scope the landscape and introduce us to her own perspective. As a PhD student, designer and researcher I have used 'Design Thinking' as my starting point to address new projects and expand upon co-design - I really connected to this presentation and left feeling very inspired.

This talk made us question:

What do designers do? How is it different and how can we describe it? If this role is about agency and participation the role changes and how do we manage this process? Is there something distinctive about having a design trained background? Do we need to go back to studios / education to explore what we are teaching designers to apply?

How does design change when applied within a larger organisation?

Who are the publics / who are you designing for?When we invite others to participate within the design process we refer to them as the 'end user' but how does this sample group represent the majority?

If design is about participation and adopting a people centred ethos its a social practice. This shifts beyond visualising solutions and moves towards giving things shape, form and meaning. Lucy highlighted that the reflective conversation with the materials can create a dialogue with stuff. I found think point really relevant especially within a fashion and textile design domain - the tangible and material form is central to the process and this becomes an interface to engage people. (images from one of my test session's / workshops)

Prototype Session DRESS UP/DOWNload

I liked her reference to prototypes and provotypes - something I have been exploring. Instead of mocking up a concept or solution - can we create something more controversial that provokes conversation and triggers an emotional response. Could this be more effective - if something is finished and refined its difficult to provoke conversation. Therefore, if something is incomplete or designed to make a bold statement maybe people would feel less intimidated?

There was lots of discussion about beauty, aesthetics and moving from visualisation towards stuff. Lucy highlighted that this is what designers are skilled and good at therefore this is an asset and should not be removed from the process.

There were references to Christopher Alexander "giving shape and form" and Thomas Binder"boundary objects". Boundary objects become an interface to connect people and mediate action. They become learning devises to facilitate learning. When working with non designers managing expectation is a key aspect and I thought these points were key to the process. Another reference to Graham Harman who talks about the role of objects and how they can be used to connect people.

Big thank you to Lucy for sharing her thoughts and vast experience. And thank you to Prof Teal Trigg's for organising this event.

TFRC: Perspectives on Future Sustainable Design

Last week Textile Futures Research Centre hosted an event titled 'Perspectives on Future Sustainable Design' at Central Saint Martins.

This event began with a keynote lecture from Dr Jonathan Chapman, followed by presentations from Carole Collet, Rebecca Earley and closed with a PhD finishers platform which I participated in alongside Kate Goldsworthy and Aurelie Mosse.

Dr Chapman's keynote was titled "Re-thinking Good Design in an Unsustainable Way" and started by highlighting why designers as beautifully positioned to champion sustainability. This keynote was packed with points which really made me stop and think

Good design is the ecology of doing and sustainability should be open for everyone to engage with. How can we make solutions accessible and encourage people to engage with them?

When exploring the broad terrain of sustainability confusion is good

"To be confused is to be combing things that were previously separate. To 'confuse' literally means, to 'pair together'; a melting pot of ideas, paradigms to world views." Hawkins (2011)

How can we be the change we want to see in the world and how does this all piece together? How can one individual connected to few inspire new action? Chapman went on to express that people are drawn to optimism and concrete solutions; they are not at all to pessimism, fuzziness and scare mongering.  Therefore solutions need to be pitched in an exciting, positive way to invite people to participate and become involved.

I loved the pace and tone of this lecture - it really made me reflect and think about my own work and I felt we were taken on a journey through some of the complexity surrounding sustainability. I've simplified some of the points which I related to but the full podcast will be available to download via TFRC soon.

This was followed by Becky Earley who introduced TED's TEN which is a toolbox for designers

1. Design to Minimise Waste

2. Design for Recycling / Upcycling

3. Design to Reduce Chemical Impacts

4. Design to Reduce Energy and Water Use

5. Design the Explores Clean / Better Technologies

6. Design that looks at Models from Nature & History

7. Design for Ethical Production

8. Design to Replace the Need to Consume

9. Design to Dematerialise and Develop Systems & Services

10. Design Activism

The TED team have curated the TEN into a collection of method cards which can be used to support interactive workshop sessions, seminars and consultancy packages with large fashion brands. This presentation illustrated each category with a collection of beautiful case studies to showcase how they can be adapted or built upon to inspire new working models for fashion & textile design.

This part of the seminar concluded with Carole Collet offering insight into the future of textiles. This future thinking approach took us on a journey of scientific wonder and combined beautiful images, prototypes to illustrations and possibilities which became very thought provoking. A connection to science and nature was made to identify sources of inspiration for designing textiles such a bio lace to explore new manufacturing processes which are engineered and constructed within a lab rather than an assembly line.

This was action packed and a huge thank you to the speakers and TFRC for putting this together. Some podcasts should be available for download shortly via TFRC connections and Shirahime have a fantastic write up.

I will complete another post on the PhD platform shortly.

The Makers Guild: Making Textiles @the V&A

Last Friday I was invited along to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London by the Makers' Guild to share my PhD research. The Makers' Guild is a membership organisation founded by Rachel Coldicutt and Fiddian Warman to support and promote makers from all backgrounds from coders to crafters. This session was titled 'Making Textiles' and kicked off with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Alexandra Jarup introducing Curious Scarves. This project was designed in collaboration between both girls who are from different design domains - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer and entrepreneur who co-founded Tinker and within the last 12 months has established Design Swarm.Alexandra Jarup is a knitwear designer based in London who has worked on commissions for NME and North Circular.

Curious Scarves was initiated by Alexandea Deschamps-Sonsion after a period of being single - she explored the concept of designing a scarf which could signal your relationship status to others. After mocking up some digital prototypes she used social media to recruit a textile designer with the skills and expertise to support production. After some textile sampling and prototypes the finished product began to emerge. This is available to order online via their website and can also be downloaded to DIY.

I'm in love with interaction design and find it super exciting when it collides with textiles. Both speakers presented their background to illustrate how their skill sets combined throughout the design process. I found this inspiring in itself - for example to bring an idea to life you need to go out and have conversations both real time and online. I thought it was great they found each other via twitter and have established a great working relationship within this project.

I presented an updated version of Co-Everything and connected my research of co-design to my own practice. I have been in full writing up mode as my research is close to completion - therefore this was a great opportunity to present my work to capture some feedback. I am currently reflecting upon my co-design projects to deliver a series of interactive fashion packages that will enable fashion consumers to participate within the design process.

There is a huge shift moving beyond direct consumption towards more experiential fashion services and I am really interested as to how this could offer a new opportunity space for fashion and textile designers. After my presentation we discussed how new business models might emerge and if the role of the professional designer begins to change to that of facilitator / and design becomes more democratised - what's the added value and how can we generated an income beyond designing stuff and evolving new services?

The session closed with Textile Futures MA graduate Elena Corchero  founder/ director of Lost Values (2008 - present). This company combines craft and new technology to inspire future design concepts which are fun and playful with consideration to environmental issues. Elena's main source of inspiration is near forgotten things - from traditions, cultures, materials and skills.

She brought along some work to showcase and invited the audience to take a photograph of her reflective knitwear. The results lit up similar to her product images above - I loved the interactive element of her presentation. It really engaged everyone and was a fun way to demonstrate the concepts.

A huge thank you to the Makers Guild for inviting me along! I really enjoyed meeting the other speakers and it attracted a lovely mixed crowd. I will definitely be following this community and attending future events. The next lined up is:

2 March: The Economic and Social Value of Making: What is the impact of maker culture on the wider economy? A discussion between policy and funding experts.

Visit their website for future updated and booking can be confirmed via the V&A website.