CoDesign: Some useful text for my project collaborators

Co-design is about engaging consumers and users of products and services in the design process, with the idea that this will ultimately lead to improvements and innovation. In Co-design those impacted by the proposed design are actively involved as partners in the design process. Co-design is being used in government, community and health sectors to extend traditional consultation methods and increase program reach and impact. Co-design approaches are also being used by corporates to engage internal stakeholders and customers, identify new service opportunities and improve existing ones.

  1. Co-design is person-centred, using ethnographic methods to understand the experience of a service from the clients point of view.
  2. Co-design asks service providers and service users to walk in the shoes of each other and to use these experiences as the basis of designing changes.
  3. Co-design starts with a desired end rather than with what is wrong with the present service. In the process we look for ways to build backwards from the outcomes we are seeking. This not only stops us from getting bogged down in what is wrong, it also potentially leads to realisations that the problems we thought we were facing were not the real problems!
  4. Co-design is focussed on developing practical, real-world solutions to issues facing individuals, families and communities. In co-design processes, prototyping is a method of testing whether ideas work in practice, and then refining ideas until solutions that work for service users and providers alike are developed.
  5. Co-design makes ideas, experiences and possibilities visible and tangible using a variety of media, graphic, kinesthetic and experiential methods. This helps to make solutions tangible and to make complex systems accessible across a range of people who may have different perspectives and knowledges about the system.
  6. Co-design processes are inclusive and draw on many perspectives, people, experts, disciplines and sectors. The idea is to find real, workable solutions to complex issues, so it is important to draw on many perspectives, to challenge orthodoxies, to question assumptions, and to draw in other possibilities.
  7. Co-design processes thrive when boundaries are flexible and silos are broken down, when real listening and dialogue can occur across unlikely alliances.

When ‘doing’ co-design, the role of the designer becomes one of facilitator: enabling participation, designing the right triggers, questions and scaffolds in which meaningful and effective participation can occur.

A typical co-design workshop has at least two different parts, one where the participant is instigated to speak about current experiences in order to start the conversation, and one where hands-on co-design exercises take place. The workshops generally involve a collection of materials, instructions for the co-design exercises, and considerable amounts of many people’s time. The data obtained from co-design sessions is generally visual and tangible. It can aid in presenting research findings in direct connection with users’ ideas and feelings in more engaging and understandable forms. The results of each session are debriefed with the team that was part of the process or that observed the sessions. The researcher captures everyone’s ideas on sticky notes and collects them on a board dedicated to each participant. Once the research cycle is finalized, the qualitative nature of the data allows the results of co-design processes to be analyzed with methods such as affinity diagramming or parallel clustering.

Links: See also these texts.

  1. UX Australia in 2013 – useful text here.
  2. Also see – Co-designing for social good Part I: The role of citizens in designing and delivering social service by Ingrid Burkett
  3. Also linking CoDesign to Participatory Design

Further Resources

  1. What is co-design?
  2. Codesign in Health at RMIT – site here.
  3. PROUD – a network of Codesigners.
  4. On Codesign and creating better public services
  5. On Codesign, CoProduction
  6. Service Design Network – about service design.
  7. Participle

Useful Resource People – people working in this field

  1. Jennie Winhall, Design Strategy and Service (LinkedIn)
  2. Sarah Drummond, SNOOK
  3. Lauren Currie, Twitter, SNOOK, Redjotter on wordpress.
  4. Brigit Mager, On SDN, On Adaptive Path.


Projects for VicRoads

News Item: VicRoads has admitted more than 1400 motorists could have been wrongly fined for driving an unregistered car due a computer glitch with its licence and registration system. Read more Here.

VicRoads had a problem with their software[1] – a technical malfunction that did not communicate with the customer – with disastrous consequences for the customer. VicRoads did send out emails reminders for Registration[2] payments[3] to many who then ended up driving unregistered vehicles[4]. This is illegal[5] – so these people became criminals[6]. As criminals they were then accosted by the police[7]. This is a simple description of this event. It is sufficient to open up a discussion of the existing design of “a service[8] that people in Victoria use to consume mobility”. For more information on the actual events see below:

  • John Fayne ABC 774 Sound Cloud Link here.
  • News Item: “Vic Roads admits stickerless vehicle registration system ‘not up to scratch’, after complaints mount over missing renewal notices” Here.
  • News Item: “VicRoads launches probe after 1432 Victorian drivers wrongly fined due to IT ‘error’” Here.
  • An earlier account of a similar problem with Licences Here.

I am now looking at the possibility that we can undertake a CoDesign exercise to come up with a new way – to reimagine a service surrounding mobility. This is potentially an iterative process of designing. A way that delivers an outcome that meets contemporary standards of expectations of service delivery. 

Or as Fayne says about a future when looking back we are able to say “isn’t it good that VicRoads is now a model agency with no complaints from people”.

In the above account we encounter the existence of:

  1. Software (not apps?)
  2. Registration
  3. Payments
  4. Vehicles
  5. Illegal
  6. Criminals
  7. Police
  8. Service


The VicRoads software is a database of vehicles. The data on the vehicle potentially contains information about the Vehicle. It also merges information about each vehicle with data about a specific and particular human (customer) or firm – the owner.

What other information feeds can be accessed by this database? This is an interesting question that can be activated in the context of improving accuracy.

Let us imagine that VicRoads begins to trust people to be honest[9]. It then is able to handover the management of registration ( and also licence – aka permission for older driver to be allowed to drive) to the customer[10]. Let us imagine then that 80 percent of people will be truthful – I will put Christine Nixon into this category. 20% however will need to game the system – for a variety of reasons. VicRoads then will need a strategy to engage this situation – with multiple strategies – to get the outcomes they want. Let us imagine we have the ability to hire a team of criminals – very Hollywood style – to work up foils for a whole series of scenarios. Let us them imagine that we are able to design a smart system that can activate the FOIL through a very particular set of stages and protocols.

Let us propose that till today I have had no idea why I would need to game the VicRoads systems. I am in effect unable to ever game the system. What we get here is the possibility that I will be able to set up a auto payment system like the one I may have the option to set up for my other services. A very Bingle like app or interface that  we are slowly getting used to within MyGov. Its pre-populated – I can edit and make changes or confirm. So an App will be great to design and prototype [11].

Now to get back to the existing system: It is imagined the database can be queried by a whole series of instruments to generate reports. One report it can generate is about the status of service – has a fee been paid for the relevant period.

Very mobile phone. Only with mobile phone subscriptions you get email, sms/text and potentially hard copy paper reminders through the post. Delayed payments activate a recorded message, which then quickly escalates to a phone call from a real human. Does the software VicRoads uses have this level of engagement with the customer? Good to build the App! [11]


Telstra goes one step better. They advertise an App based way to self-manage your account. BE THE BOSS OF YOU they say. “Manage your account and services from your smartphone or tablet with the Telstra 24×7® App“. This puts the customer in charge – and so they can pay proactively. Without the interference of Telstra. Why does VicRoads not have an app allowing the customer to self manage their payments? App Again! [11]

In the contemporary period companies activate the proactive customer to work for them. The progressive company co-creates outcomes such as timely payments.

There is a unique philosophical position at the bottom of this narrative – I will state it here.

  1. The Customer is a partner.
  2. The Customer is respected.
  3. The Customer is trusted to do the right thing.
  4. The Customer has to be provided a service better than that being provided by literally everyone else.

The reputation of company as a responsible citizen is then confirmed by the customer. Their emotional value is captured by their expression of loyalty.

There are companies that operate monopolies – which have not, may not have, made the transition to the contemporary economy where goodwill is computed in monetary terms. Government agencies such as health care service providers (hospitals) struggle to make the transition. In an interim period it can be seen that such agencies use the customer feedback to improve service. Such incremental improvements of course mark these enterprises as obsolete. Of course private service providers that have obsolete models of practice close shop when they are accosted by forces of disruptive innovation (Clayton Christensen). Government and state agencies do not have such simple mechanisms of renewal and have to be updated incrementally. They are protected from the forces of disruptive innovation. A very important question then for VicRoads will be. How does VicRoads reimagine itself in contemporary terms? One way is to do a project that uses Scenario Construction. [12]


Is the notion of registration relevant in the emerging world?

Many people do not use this facility. We can categorise them as a population of people who don’t drive to get themselves about. Who in effect are not mobile or use assisted mobility.

  1. The very ill
  2. The very old
  3. The very young
  4. A group of people who do not have a driving licence.
  5. People who can be driven around.

The future is here as driver less cars. Will this be the new form of public transport? Has VicRoads imagined what will happen to notions of ownership and road use in this scenario? The emergence of driver-less cars has a significant impact upon the notion of ‘driving’. It is possible that in the future there will contain a diversity of mobility options and therefore a few distinct categories of people-vehicle combinations will emerge.

  1. The driverless cars will be common. This may have an older people option, or will permit safe Local Mobility. [LM] This is of relevance to medical aspects of individuals impacting upon permissions to drive/ use roads.
  2. Uber, Lyft and other disruptive services will disrupt successfully. Lets call this Ride Share [RS]. This is the possibility of competitive options of pervasive mobility becoming common.
  3. GoGet and Flexicar membership will be ubiquitous. Lets call this the Share Car population[SC]. This is a membership model – that even today as in GoGet has a free option – that is pay only when you use.
  4. Those taking up cycling will opt out [as in #1] or will drive occasionally and can plan their trips, such as weekend travel[WT]. This is the anti personal transport lobby. The state will build more and more cycling facilities.
  5. A new breed of mobility product will emerge. Lets call this new mobility products. [NMP] See the list at end #11.
  6. A population of people who will opt out of driving. The current generation of teenagers has this culture in some measure. Lets call these the Opt Outers [OO].
  7. A population of people who will want to own and drive. Lets refer to them as the Owner Collector [OC] lobby.
  8. A population of people who have to drive to do illegal acts. (“I don’t think there’d be too many bank robbers who use a driverless car as their getaway vehicle,” he said. For more click here.) Lets call these people the Get Away crowd [GA].

Now we have a question: What proportion of population can be ascribed to each category. I have made a list below – which gives us one scenario.

LM/15%, RS/15, SC/15, WT/15, NMP/ 10%, OO/15, GA/2% – which leaves me with a Owner/Collector, aka those that will drive definitely, proportion of 13%. Are we saying that the population of individual ownership will drop to 13%? In which case we will need to reimagine the ecosystem of Tax as the premises of ownership have to be adjusted to a new reality. Is 750$ a year or 2$ a day the appropriate fee for supporting the road ecosystem? If the quantum of fee collected potentially drops how does the tax/ income stream work. This is a scenario project. [14]

What mobile phones do it they charge you a subscription fee, give you a phone, and then charge you for usage. This in turn transforms the design of the product and the economy of development. For example 41% of people use iPhones (link). Were this to happen to cars we would buy the service, and not the product, and the product would be the best technology. Potentially an intelligent TESLA with its NVIDIA TEGRA Processors [link] is a primitive look at the future of mobility appliances. This is a scenario project. [15]

If we imagine that there exist distinct zones of mobility – such as inner urban [Z1], outer urban [Z2], and rural [Z3}. Then we can start to see the possibility of alternative scenarios of Registration. Who registers, and who manages the registration will change. Also Z1 can see a drop in vehicle ownership. By how much? 75% in the above scenario.

Will that convince the government to close VicRoads and create a department of mobility? Whats is the best future for our children? Another scenario project. [16]

Victoria has approx 4.6 million registered vehicles. How many of these will be shared vehicles or be part of emerging services? Which then leads to what is the best way of ‘taxing’ these? This is another Project – again scenario development.[17]


One of the dimensions of the relationship between VicRoads and individual owners is a contract to pay a fee for the privilege of being allowed use the Vehicles on roads maintained by VicRoads. Its possible to have, own, a vehicle to look at – and in that instance no fee needs to be paid. There are a large number of such vehicles in Victoria. People who live in this place have this odd habit of owning many vehicles – only some of these being for the express purpose of being used to move about. The others are collected or treated as projects.

The fee that is paid to use the roads – a toll as it were – takes many forms. Vic Roads prefers to keep this privilege simple and charges a flat annual fee. Some other agencies charge on a pay as you go [PAYG] basis – the toll. There is a small amount of chatter about having a PAYG system. How will that work? Good to do a research project to simulate the PAYG system and see how it impacts upon the other “tacit protocols”. Apple convinced the music companies that music consumption through hardware devices – CDs and other material artefacts – was obsolete. Henceforth music would be consumed like a ‘personal radio’. Largely free for the most part – some would pay for a level of control or finicky personal preferences.

Is it then possible for this – fee for use – to be a contemporary service? When compared with iTunes – to consume music – how different is it? This is a scenario project. [18]

Of course Registration is a tax – and needed to maintain the roads. There is a bit of discussion around the need to have an alternative model – “In the end, it’s not important whether fuel tax and other fees pay for roads or not. They’re just another kind of tax and can be used for whatever we as a democracy want it to be used for.” For more click here.

Illegals, Criminals, Police

I am currently not writing this section. Will do this later. Here is a link to a service design project in Scotland by Snook: My Police. While the project of Codesigning the Police Force in Victoria is some distance away – it is possible to reimagine public services such as VicRoads. Or even renegotiate the notions of criminality in the VicRoads space. Of course it may just be that this is too early for Victoria.


This is a text under development – and I will add more discussion as I go. I am aiming to describe unique projects that can be undertaken to unpick and unpack current practices that are tightly packed into hard bundles. Once we have dismantled the – no you can discuss that – bundles we can start a process of innovation. I have marked 18 potential projects and will open them up one by one.

For now you can leave comments. For more you may need to come back to see updates.

For now I have listed some additional Reading re the FUTURE of MOBILITY – that add to the need to be proactive in reimagining contemporary services like VicRoads.

  1. We see three key trends shaping mobility, both personal and commercial: the move to on-demand mobility, the impact of driverless vehicles and the growth of electric vehicles. More.
  2. Will technological advances and shifts in social attitudes lead to our no longer owning or driving vehicles? More.
  3. What happens to mobility in the next 15 years? More.
  4. What might one expect for the future of mobility in the United States in 2030? Mobility is defined as the ability to travel from one location to another, regardless of mode or purpose. RAND researchers used a six-step scenario development process to develop two thought-provoking scenarios that address this question. More.
  5. In 2008, after I told a global leading car company that they are not in business of making cars, but in the industry of personal mobility, and that car sharing would be an important personal mobility business model of the future, I was almost thrown out of the factory gates. Six years later, the same car company now runs a car sharing business and is in the forefront of developing new mobility services around vehicle usage rather than car ownership. More.
  6. According to the Picture the Future – Mobility research, Australia must focus on social and economic hubs, freight and logistics, alternative energy and intelligent mobility to achieve seamless mobility. More.
  7. Next is an advanced smart transportation system based on swarms of modular self-driving vehicles, designed in Italy. Each module can join and detach with other modules on standard city roads. When joined, they create an open, bus-like area among modules, allowing passengers to stand and walk from one module to another. More.
  8. Twenty years from now, transportation will look a whole lot different. Boston Consulting Group estimates that self-driving cars may account for a quarter of all global automobile sales by 2035. More.
  9. We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the history of transport: the end of the dominance of the privately owned motorcar. More.
  10. AGL toys with idea of electric vehicles for customers. More.
  11. Here is a list of 10 electric bikes made by car companies, placed in the order in which they are likely to come to market. More.
  12. Drivers who have lost their licenses for drink driving and other offences are  another a significant source of electric bikes buyersMore.
  13. Throughout Europe, commuters are ditching high petrol prices for eco-friendly electric bikes. More.

Soumitri in 2016

Design is vehicle for change. A Design Project can be a campaign. In a furiously online world I see design projects as either a first step towards a business venture or a campaign that changes the way people think. Design innovations can change the way we deal with ageing and death. Design projects can change the way the world thinks about issues. Design projects can be about improving the lives of ordinary and marginalised people. Below are some of the areas I am currently interested in/ excited about:
  1. How to die well
  2. Ways of dealing with obesity
  3. Imagining a Future beyond Medicine
  4. Ways of Journalling Pregnancy
  5. Design for people with Locked-in syndrome
  6. Proposing a Bio-Dome (a personal diagnostic ecosystem)
  7. Design for living longer
I live and work in Melbourne. In Melbourne there is a lot of energy these days around imagining a healthy future. I engage with this energy.
  1. My design approach focuses upon proposing a future that contains preferred/ visionary products and services.
  2. I am excited by design projects that focus on the small and big challenges facing humanity.
  3. I see design projects as campaigns and so have developed, and therefore teach, the abilities required to prototype design projects within communities.
  4. My current interest is in innovations in healthcare services, where I focus upon de-medicalising and re-contextualizing normal practices to develop new traditions and artefacts in the areas of:
    1. Mental health
    2. Obesity
    3. Ageing
    4. Death
    5. Diabetes
    6. Maternal health
    7. Hearing loss
    8. (Defines the design theme or discourse)

Speaking cloth: Including women’s account of body experiences in health innovations

This paper is about a project that works upon getting women to reflect upon their bodily experiences and to draw and paint their experiences as a way to communicate-out their journeys of childbearing. I arrived at this project of visual narratives because of the dissatisfaction I felt upon reading the solutions within texts on the subject of Maternal deaths in poorly serviced contexts. Words are a great vehicle for the urban educated but as ‘technical vocabulary’, through demanding a medicalisation of local knowledge of childbearing practices, they also become the very instruments that disenfranchise the lived experience of pregnant women. The research question then was – how can these women speak so that they are heard, so that their voices are heard in all their complexity and not in a simplified way that fits into current medical and public health theory? My answer has been to use the gallery, the exhibition space in urban centres as the stage where these voices are expressed. The first hand-drawn cloth was a cultural probe that was used in field work encounters with women in remote communities in Assam, India. The experience of using the ‘painted cloth’ as a vehicle to incite an outpouring of experiences from affected women and hurt families led to the development of 5 themes of narration. These themes were illustrated for exhibition by a Melbourne based artist where she reflectively drew upon her personal experiences to draw-out her narratives. I have since been working with a New Delhi based Textile artist to set up a project to get remote-rural-poor craftswomen to do similar paintings. These paintings are their stories – telling of their experiences of their childbirth experiences and of incidents in their community. These works are a way for the “voices” of these women, and the stories from remote rural communities, to be heard in urban centres through exhibitions of their works. The aesthetics and form of the story will go a long way in retaining the details in the narratives. By becoming images these narrative works are not reducible, as words often are, to being bracketed  as “formulaic problems”. This format (gallery) and this location (urban) is one part of the project focussed upon contributing a unique dimension that of  the perspective of remote-rural-poor women, to the policy discourse surrounding maternal deaths in communities distant from urban centres. Once the pieces are produced the next activity is the performance. The project envisages a travelling exhibition that stops at key places to conduct a conversation as a workshop, a provocation or a symposium. This event is envisaged to be a reading of the stories from the cloths as a conversation that aims to look at maternal health from the perspective of the women. The amplifying of the voices of remote-rural-poor woman is intended to give health innovators access to the lived experiences of pregnant women and to consider the women as partners and components of the solution ecosystems being developed.

Abstract submitted to Include 2013

BGL system options

Today we looked at BGL system options and sketched a schematic that focussed upon information management. This would give us a good idea of the hardware and software requirements of the products in the system.

Teaching Design for Sustainability

I had a bit of fun writing this abstract for ICSID 2009, to be in Singapore.

A new beginning for teaching Design for Sustainability

The project of design’s engagement with sustainability over the past two decades has been fraught; one, the discourse has been about consumption and western lifestyles, and two, the construction of the practice of sustainability has been reactive. For a long time design positioned itself as a profession that would react to design briefs set by a client and this directly created a format for   design for sustainability as an activity of redesign. When engineering adapted methodologies of manufacturing practice, such as TQM and value engineering, to include issues of pollution they created new specializations of engineering that could handle incremental transformation of product manufacturing towards more environmentally appropriate practice. The fact that big industry would not be needing designers to work of the eco-redesign of their products did not dawn on the profession of design and even less on design academies. This fact of being repeatedly rendered irrelevant in the discourse of sustainability is the essential character of design’s engagement with sustainability over the past two decades. However this fact is not acknowledged and quite effectively hidden as the profusion of published outcomes allows design to talk within its community of practitioners without needing to seek acknowledgement from the wider world. As a marginal discourse sustainability is high profile and very visible in exhibitions, websites and books. Queried as a valid practice with examples of best practice design has little to show. I propose to create a still point where we can pause and ask if the new fascination with service design and social innovation is valid in its claim to be the new face of design for sustainability. I propose that it is not though it does expose a fundamental flaw in the way the practice of design was constructed in the last century. I then go on to show that the emerging trends point to interesting possibilities of reinventing the profession and for the complete transformation of the way we look at studio practice in design education.

Service design for India

Soumitri Varadarajan – Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum | Re-public: re-imagining democracy – english version

It was in the 1970s, a full ten years after the new design schools had been set up in India, that you see a lot of activity on the contextual discourse of design for India. The imported curriculum from the west needed to be realigned to suit a developing country. Two events are significant for us in understanding how this realignment was discussed. One event hosted in London titled Design for Need (Bicknell and McQuiston 1977) has designers from India and Brazil where the focus was upon (a) seeking an agreement that design needs to focus upon ‘need’ (basic necessities) and not wants (consumption), and (b) showcasing projects and experiences in product design in a developing country context. The group is in agreement that design can make a contribution to the less privileged in society by designing new objects. Such ideas of change through technical innovation were at that time also being made popular by the Intermediate Technology movement. The second event happens in India and is a special ICSID-UNDP event that is similarly situated and emerges with a declaration, the Ahmedabad Declaration (NID 1979), that has a more ambitious agenda of transforming society by design. The focus of the declaration is upon the poor, which at that time is more that three quarters of the population of India, as needing design intervention.


What is the Service Design Research initiative?

What’s SDR « Service Design Research

It aims to collectively build an understanding and foster a dialogue on where ideas and concepts of Service Design have come from, how these evolved over the last two decades as well as report and review current research and service design practices. The motivation is to consolidate existing knowledge and to support the growth of a research community that engages in meaningful research relevant to the challenges design is dealing with today and in

Curriculum Design

Just some eye candy on this subject – Papanek’s sketch.

I made the draft for three curricula – courses in Social Design, Service Design and Social Innovation. I am imagining that at this point the object trajectory of design is one path. The dematerialized is another way entirley.

The difference in the two paths is the focus upon the elite in the former. A focus upon objects, beautiful things and the producer. The latter focuses upon change and upon lives.

2009 project

Theme: Social Innovation and Service Design

My practice is in the area of sustainability – which I articulate as the development of projects that look at material and systemic sustainability in Industrial Design Projects. A lot of these projects are speculative and propositional so located in the future. I work with a set of defined methods and strategies to think through the projects and develop the solutions. In recent years I have seen the amplification of the social dimension in my projects – and I have also seen the outcomes of the projects as social innovations. Often I have seen the projects become new, viable and self sustaining business ventures – which are social entrepreneurship ventures. I campaign for a dematerialised world and therefore privilege service design – which in recent days has seen me move towards interaction design which is needed in the development of and delivery of services.

And …
I see two kinds of students in the studio. One with clear projects ( developed in Research Methods) and others who can; one, quickly come up with a project idea in the area of sustainability, or two, work on a project within my Urban Laboratory research grant project. This latter is titled NGINGO and is a cluster of projects making up a full scheme for a ecologically closed-system university campus – this is a live project.

Therefore the topic spread will look like this:
1.    Individual project
2.    Ngingo Project (12 design projects)
Key aspects
1.    Student allocation: my preferred option is student centered and therefore student selects.
2.    Calendar – Week 3 (end research), week 6 (at risk check) and week 8 for closure (presentation of digital finals), week 8 to 15 is for execution/ making.
3.    Deliverables – digital-model, folio-report, 3D model-prototype
4.    Day – Thursday Morning
5.    Project – Individual project or Themed studio (Ngingo)
6.    Learning Contract – the student specifies their schedule (3-6-8-15)
7.    Online record (developing a byline) – wordpress ( this is web2.0 and develops students’ online publishing capability), firefox with addons (scribefire, delicious, vodpod)
ProBono Design (campaign 1)
Additionally – All students would volunteer for a design submission for a bushfire-safe bunker – full scheme to be submitted in week 2. This is something they do alongside the project – and is something I am doing with Architects for Peace.

This is the subject of a UL grant application and is a cluster of concerns in the area of modelling sustainable solutions. Sitting behind the application is a live project for a university campus in India – thus a potential trip to India to present the work/ exhibit it(sem 2 NID exchange student will work on the exhibition design ).

1.    Ecosphere (6 projects) – AUD in context, description of the campus environment in India
a.    No sewage pipe – extreme water use challenge
i.    Clothing care
ii.    Washing, cooking and cleaning
b.    Zero waste – no garbage out of campus
c.    Energy – self sufficiency
d.    Food – Urban agriculture
e.    Subterranean bunkers – cool room
f.    Transport – No personal vehicles and sharing
2.    Social Innovation (3 options) – entrepreneurship incubator
a.    Food – Local food, student food
b.    Health
c.    Sharing
3.    Car and car sharing (1 option)
4.    Bushfire Bunker (1 option)
5.    Diabetes (1 option)

Soumitri Varadarajan Keynote Address

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Conversations 48 deg C – a two day symposium brought together Indian and international experts on ecology, urban space, architecture and public art.
Keynote: Soumitri Varadarajan, RMIT
Response: Sanjay Prakash, Energy Conscious Architect
Chair: Ashok Lall, Urban Planner Architect Provocateurs include: Amar Kanwar, Artist; Bharati Chaturvedi, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group; J.K. Dadoo, Environment Secretary, Government of India

Saffer new book

Saffer on Service Design and how it just vaporises when you touch it!

Dissolving Service Design

I’m starting a revision of my book Designing for Interaction. It’s about three years old now, and lots of things, including my own perspective on interaction design, have changed in the four years since I started writing it. (Just as one example, touchscreens and interactive gestures weren’t really mentioned in the earlier at all.)

One of the most radical changes to the new edition (and there are several), is the dissolution of the service design chapter. When I wrote the book, “service design” and designing services was something that was fairly new (in the US anyway). I called it “the next frontier of interaction design” or some such hyperbole.

Three years on, and the distinction between products and services in the world of iPhones, Kindles, Google Docs, Facebook, and Twitter seems arbitrary at best, and confusing at worst. And that isn’t to even get into things like ubicomp or robots, where the distinction is even more blurry. So for the second edition, I’ve decided to dissolve the service design chapter and just place the topics and tools that were once ghettoed there throughout the book. I’m not sure that, from this point out, at least for interaction designers, the distinction between products and services is a meaningful one.

I simply cannot think of a service that interaction designers would be involved in that doesn’t have some sort of product, and typically a technology product, at its center. The product might be anything from a physical object to a website to an interactive environment, but there is something there to be designed. Secondly, I can only think of very few products that interaction designers (and really, almost any designer) are designing any more that are not part of some kind of service. Bruce Sterling in Shaping Things uses the example of a bottle of wine: there’s the bottle itself, the vineyard’s website, the printed label, the metadata that goes to online winesellers, etc., etc. And that’s for a bottle of wine, much less a device that has to live in our increasingly complex ecosystem of gadgets, environment, and internet.

A New School for India

Imagine a country where by many estimates 70% of the population is rural – with poor access to work, services and the benefits of technology. Where life in a sense is a curious mix of the ancient ways-practices and contemporary in the mobile phone and shampoo sachet. This context has energised many different responses –

  1. William Morris asking for it to be locked away as pristine and perfect.
  2. The Indian state initiating a central planning strategy to obliterate the past.
  3. The social activists setting up NGOs in rural contexts to bring modern management practices to the hinterland.

Design joined in to focus upon the rural as a manufacturing locale and designed objects and tools to make money and prosperity flow to the rural.

To be fair all of this had some effect. In pockets. And much much more needs to be done. I find the ‘design for the other 90%’ deeply irritating, in the same way I found Papanek problematic – technology and more products will not materially change the situation. Neither is income generation projects in rural areas the total answer. All this has been attempted – and its just not enough. Something else is needed.

So I ask the question – can a design school be set up which lets go of its professional anchorings (in the art and design framework ) to focus all its energies upon this population of people?

You may already practice service design

Service design is old – and many different people do it. But the time has come to move from ‘need’ driven initiatives – which are also called social innovations – to a more ‘systematic approach’. For social innovations and disruptive innovations dislodge the dominant industry – and companies today looking to build resilience need the ‘method’. We also need method to educate more designers who will focus away from material outcomes towards – making the world a better place.

I track jamin thru an RSS feed – and find his gentle way of discussing topics very refreshing. I always post in a hurry – and actually dash off – to chuck another over in the backyard or  coffee at ‘workshop’ (but of course I dont drink coffee – its the principle of the thing – though I love the taste of coffee) – and every post of mine looks shockingly rough. But I console myself – that I blog for myself – its my assemblage, my herbarium.

So go check out Jamin. Its a Good blog to watch.

Service Design: What’s Next? |

Does this mean service design requires a different process or skills? Yes and no. As I said, if you practice interaction design in its broadest sense, know the design process well, and take a user-centered approach, service design will not be a huge leap. You may already practice service design. However, as Shelley Evenson said during the conference, additional skills she would look for in service designers are business and systems skills: the latter because services often rely on other services.

I do not think service design is a distinct discipline of design. The term is important for helping to bring design into new territory. But I view service design as a practice of design. I’m sure there are some who will disagree, and I’d love to hear their views.

What kind of people work in service design

Some people with a design background work in service design. I have posted the engine ‘people’ page here to give a slice of profession specializations – Product Design and Graphic design in particular.

Engine Service Design | About us

Engine people are a multi-disciplinary team of service specialists, and a network of experienced associates.

start tackling problems and pushing through ideas together

Emergence 2007 » Blog Archive » What People Are Saying About the Emergence Conference

One of the big pushes coming out of the conference was to start continuing the conversations we’ve had over the past three days so that we don’t just convene every once in a while to talk about what we’ve done and instead start tackling problems and pushing through ideas together. —Carrie Chan

Daily Dump

Composting Service in Bangalore India. By Poonam Bir – a designer, graduate of NID.

home | Daily Dump

Daily Dump offers a range of products and services that help compost at home.
It also provides solutions and knowledge through an open source platform.

As a service, Daily Dump helps you manage your household waste and
convert it to useful high-quality compost. It supports you with
flexible service plans to achieve your goal of becoming a green

We’re involved in developing a range of composting solutions, and
already have a number of simple home Composters that you can find here.
The Daily Dump products are designed to ensure that you compost at
home, conveniently and hygienically.

On this site you’ll find information on us and our products, plus
free material on everything you need to start your own composting
project, faster than you can say ‘biodegradable’.

Daily Dump

Composting Service in Bangalore India. By Poonam Bir – a designer, graduate of NID.

home | Daily Dump

Daily Dump offers a range of products and services that help compost at home.
It also provides solutions and knowledge through an open source platform.

As a service, Daily Dump helps you manage your household waste and
convert it to useful high-quality compost. It supports you with
flexible service plans to achieve your goal of becoming a green

We’re involved in developing a range of composting solutions, and
already have a number of simple home Composters that you can find here.
The Daily Dump products are designed to ensure that you compost at
home, conveniently and hygienically.

On this site you’ll find information on us and our products, plus
free material on everything you need to start your own composting
project, faster than you can say ‘biodegradable’.

India in rush to build toilets

India in rush to build toilets |

INDIA has a massive plumbing problem. More than half a billion citizens don’t have a toilet and the country needs to build 78 new ones every minute over the next four years to meet the Government’s ambitious sanitation target.

One in two Indians, or about 650 million people, defecates in the open. The untreated waste poses a serious health risk.

Last year India added about 11 million toilets, but the Government wants the rate of construction to rise considerably.

The national co-ordinator of aid agency WaterAid India, Richard Mahapatra, used official data to estimate that 40,000 new toilets a day are needed to reach the Government’s goal of making a lavatory available to every citizen by 2012.

These systems helped people kick ass

This is for you if you have been following ‘another take on service design’ that I promised a few posts ago. I am building an argument that service design as it has come about – CMU/RED and all that stuff – doesnt quite cut it. Yes it will become canonical – there will be stuff written about a ‘method’ – which will be steps in how to do it. But quite frankly – it will just be a house of cards. For when we designers raid other peoples intellectual domains we dont do it in a sustainable fashion – even when Morris barged into Ruskin-land he did it sporadically almost with a glass of good old Magaret River chardonnay in his left hand. In recent times we went into the domain of Vandana Shiva and Sunita Narain we did it with a Promise Manual – which in faint light looked like ‘value engineering’ from mechanical engineering etxt books.

A the coal face ‘service design’ looks elitist. Though its throws good parties. Doesn’t it?

Now heer is one snippet on the ‘top down’ – and what service design is. In the main!

Top-Down Vs. Bottom-Up Software Architecture | Bex Huff

More pragmatic advice from James McGovern, this time about top-down versus bottom-up IT initiatives. In other words, CEO mandate versus workers-know-best. Both are needed, but when is which one appropriate? My favorite quote:

One of the more interesting things is that a person debating top-down vs bottoms-up needs to take into consideration is historically which one has had better results. Of course, top-down has the advantage that even mediocre delivery will be declared success while bottoms-up mediocrity will probably result in throwing daggers.

Consideration? Sure, OK. That’s the politically expedient thing to do for bottom-up… but it misses a vital point: is the technology something that people will absolutely love? If so, mediocre implementation will be forgiven, and the top-down criticism will eventually be won over. As I always say, its easier to get forgiveness than permission.

I was a part of multiple skunk works projects at Stellent, some of which got me into a teensy bit of trouble with executives. Some of these projects languished, but many of them took off like gangbusters because people loved them. In the words of Cathy Sierra, these systems helped people kick ass. In the words of Clay Shirky, they were systems where people took care of one another, and that more than anything else guaranteed their existence the next day.

If They Build a Medical Home, Will the Docs Come?

Disease Management Care Blog: If They Build a Medical Home, Will the Docs Come?

Among its many admittedly good qualities, the patient centered medical home (PCMH) has been lauded as the means to resuscitate, re-engineer or revive primary care. The Disease Management Blog asks: assuming the PMCH has plenty of merit by itself, what does it have to do with the rescuing primary care?

Thinking about services that starts with the individual not the organisation

In View – NHS board level development team

The report argues that it is time to “move from an NHS that has rightly focused on increasing the quantity of care to one that focuses on improving the quality of care”. For Darzi, quality is not merely about doing the same things better, but about creating personalised services.

The move from quantity of services to quality of services involves switching attention from the productive capability of the NHS machine (how many cancer patients can we treat with these resources?) to the ability of NHS services to meet the needs of patients and the public (how can we support the health needs of each and every person in Britain in a timely manner?).

What is needed is a new way of thinking about services that starts with the individual not the organisation. We call this Service Thinking.

£200 000 for Public Service Design

£200 000 for Public Service Design « Redjotter’s Weblog

Designers are being sought to improve public services.

“The Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills has put forward an initial £200 000 to support the Design Council’s Public Services by Design scheme, with the goal of bringing a range of design skills to bear on the emergency services, prisons, healthcare, education and the workplace.

The Membership Project

About the Membership Project | The Membership Project

The Membership Project explores how the social web and other factors are changing the ways in which we may belong to groups and organisations.

We believe that these changes will have major implications for civil society institutions, ranging from national charities to local groups.

Put simply, will people still pay subscriptions if they can get information, meet and collaborate through social networks? As individuals, how do we turn connections made online and in other ways into deeper relationships and ways of working towards a better society? What benefits must organisations offer in future to survive?
We are inviting anyone interested to join us in a exploring how ‘membership’ and the act of ‘joining’ is changing, review the implications for civil society institutions, and then to develop services, support or guidance to help them meet the challenges and opportunities.

Is this the real story of service design?

This is what the wikipedia says about service design.

But I see this as just one strain – this is when product designers took their methodology into the design of services. And they needed to do this when they realised that the internet integrated business economy was being constructed more and more as a a combination of many parts. Only one of which is the hard material object. But not all parts are the service – for the service is a focus specifically upon the ‘event’ of consumption – and not upon the processes that result in the consumption event. So service design falls under the category of ‘product’ in the way marketing and communication agencies talk about it. For a traditional touch and feel designer this is all very soul-less. But for a designer who went abstract-logical-digital a while ago (in this include all the mass-pro design strains) this is all pure adrenaline. Or maybe not adrenaline – for they get small rushes – but maybe a sense of accomplishment. Adrenaline we can reserve for the designers – for whom emotion still matters. But hang on we hear they are bringing in the psychologists into design to make ’emotion’ also an analtically managed product.

All very sad and soulless.

(So do I have another take on service design? Yes I do. Its a practice I enjoy for it is a face to face service design. That will be in subsequent posts. So come back later.)

Service design – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the earliest contributions on service design (Shostack 1982; Shostack 1984)the activity of designing service was considered as part of the domain of marketing and management disciplines. Shostack (Shostack 1982), for instance proposed the integrated design of material components (products) and immaterial components (services). This design process, according to Shostack, can be documented and codified using a “service blueprint” to map the sequence of events in a service and its essential functions in an objective and explicit manner.

In 1991, Service Design was first introduced as a design discipline by Prof. Dr. Michael Erlhoff at Köln International School of Design (KISD), and Prof. Birgit Mager has played an integral role for developing the study of Service Design at KISD in later days. In 2004, the Service Design Network was launched by Köln International School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, Linköpings Universitet, Politecnico de Milano, Domus Academy and the agency Spirit of Creation, in order to create an international network for Service Design academics and professionals; now the network extends to service designers around the world, as well as professional service design agencies such as Livework and IDEO.