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Putting People First

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20 December 2013

Screen Life: The View from the Sofa

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A new study carried out for Thinkbox by COG Research and designed to help the advertising community understand the context of multi-screening (watching TV and simultaneously using an internet-connected device such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet).

Using a combination of research techniques which examined over 700 hours of TV viewing gathered from filming the living rooms of 23 multi-screening households in the UK, psycho-physiological analysis, digital ethnography and online research among 2,000 people with TV and online access.

Here you can read about the research context, the methodology and key findings from the report which reveals how TV and TV advertising benefits from second screens.

Thinkbox has also posted a 2.5 hour webcast on the topic, whereas Research Magazine provides a broader overview, bringing the results of various studies together in one comprehensive and long article.

17 December 2013

Videos online of the Service Design Global Conference

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Nearly all videos of the recent Service Design Global Conference in Cardiff, Wales (19-20 November 2013) are now online:

DAY 1

Making Data Useful

Complex Service Systems

Co-Design & Co-Creation

Micro Services

DAY 2

Morning presentations

Afternoon presentations

17 December 2013

Dan Hill: Can public enterprises adopt the popular dynamics of private enterprises?

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In his latest Dezeen column, Dan Hill examines what services like the Uber taxi app mean for cities and asks whether the designers of public services can learn something from them.

“So this [i.e. Uber], as with Amazon (and Starbucks, J Crew and the rest) is another cultural blitzkrieg, obliterating difference and leaving high-quality homogeneity in its wake. With clothes and coffee it’s a shame, but not that big a deal. However, when it ploughs into a core urban service like mobility I have, well, a few issues.

Although taxis are a form of privatised transport, they remain part of the city’s civic infrastructure, part of their character. As architect and teacher Robin Boyd wrote, “taxi-men teach the visitor a lot about their towns, intentionally and unintentionally.” Boyd was able to to demarcate Sydney culture from Adelaide culture based on whether the cabbie opens the door for you. I recall scribbling a drawing of a Stephen Holl building I wanted to visit in Beijing, as my only way of communicating my desired destination to the taxi driver. Uber makes transactions easier, but what we gain from a seamless UI, and the convenience of the global currency of apps, we lose from the possibility of understanding a place through a slightly bumpier “seamful” experience.”

In short, Hill is concerned:

“The broader issue is replacement of public services with private services. [...] “Who’s to say that similarly shiny networked services won’t also begin to offer privatised coordination of your waste collection, energy and water provision and so on, to match the trends towards private education, private healthcare and private mail delivery to gated communities?”

So what could public services and public authorities do?

“It may mean that public enterprise has to adopt the popular dynamics, patterns and systems of our age, yet bent into shape for public good. This seems possible, as the GOV.UK project from the UK’s Government Digital Service illustrates. Perhaps by marrying such supremely good interactive work with the ethos and long-term viability of the public sector, services like Uber will be left to play happily in the aspirant niches while high-quality networked public services will be available for all. It is just as viable for public transport systems to apply network logic as it is for Uber to do so, if not easier, as the public sector gets to shape the policy and regulatory environments, as well as the delivery.”

So. he ends, “the design question posed by Uber is: can public enterprises adopt the popular dynamics of private enterprises without also absorbing their underlying ideologies?”

17 December 2013

American-centric UI is leveling tech culture — and design diversity

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An article with a title like this cannot but intrigue me (being a non-American leading a non-USA company) – and even more so after I found out that it was written by an American working in an American company.

In a very frank and thoughtful article, Sean Madden, Executive Managing Director at Ziba, argues that the interactions designed into our devices overwhelmingly reflect a perspective native to modern, affluent, urban America.

“That our smartphones can be customized through the installation of apps assumes we want a device that is unique and personal. That our wearable devices track and analyze physical movement — as opposed to, say, proximity to friends or family — assumes that individual activity is the kind most worth monitoring. That our gaming consoles are designed primarily with a single, networked player in mind assumes we prefer remote interaction to the in-person kind; compare that to what Korean and Chinese gamers do, which is cluster in cafes.

This focus on individuality and personal mobility is deeply American, and it’s being taught to the rest of the world through the medium of American technology. And the age of invisible design, with its focus on experiences (as opposed to just products and interfaces) has made cultural influence the elephant in the room: obvious, ignored, and hugely powerful. Especially because technology platforms favor the culture that spawned them.”

Madden doesn’t stop at analysis, but sets out a vision for what the next challenge will be:

“Just as user-centered design transformed technology in the 1990s and early 2000s, cultural fluency needs to transform it today: user experience (UX) design that’s familiar enough with a user’s cultural background to meet him or her halfway.

Cultural fluency demands abandoning the idea that functionality is a universal language, and that “good UX” is culturally agnostic. [...]

It requires tremendous discipline to overcome the cultural biases of American design and engineering, to avoid teams building their own cultural norms into how the systems facilitate human interactions. Cultural fluency will require another expansion in design, one that incorporates anthropological, psychological, and historical insights in addition to everything that’s come before. And it will require understanding the broader impact on culture and society when devices begin making decisions and transacting on their own, as promised by the Internet of Things.”

14 December 2013

Reinventing the wheel

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Experientia has been featured in RISD.edu, the website of the Rhode Island School of Design, where Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels received his master’s degree in industrial design.

The article offers a brief overview of some of Experientia’s recent work, before going into more depth about our exciting conceptual work on a giant observation wheel design for Japan.

Experientia reimagined the user experience of observation wheels, integrating innovative elements throughout the entire customer journey. The innovations take people on a unique and exciting journey, from the moment of purchasing and anticipating the ride, right up to augmented reality during the ride that immerses them in the landscape, and provides new perspectives on familiar views.

The observtion wheel is destined to be constructed in an as-yet-unannounced city of Japan, and the design has been featured in several magazines recently, including Fast Design, Dezeen and Wired.

14 December 2013

UX review of Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch

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Smartwatches are the future, but the Samsung Galaxy Gear is only partway there, writes Raluca Budiu, a senior researcher with Nielsen Norman Group, in her detailed and extensive UX review of the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch.

“One big reason to believe in watches is that this form factor has already been victorious. Historically, before wristwatches were invented, many people carried pocket watches. But the time needed to fish a device out of your pocket was much more than the time needed to whip around your wrist to face your face. Wristwatches are a much faster way to check the time (and maybe date) than using a pocket watch. As a result, you hardly ever see a pocket watch these days.

In the case of computers, the wrist computer (smartwatch) will not eradicate the pocket computer (mobile phone) the way wristwatches eradicated pocket watches, because a phone-sized screen can do so much more than a watch-sized screen. Most likely people will carry both.

The key is simplicity (you can do it more easily on a watch) and spontaneity (you can do it right away). Phones already encourage spontaneous use; watches will be for those moments when phones are too big and too slow to access. We’ll need to learn ways to make the apps more direct and distill their essence, so that a quick glimpse on a tiny screen will be enough to get what we need.”

See also this article on the iWatch by her colleague Bruce ‘Tog’ Tognazzini

14 December 2013

The lack of closure experience in digital products and services

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There’s an ever-growing tide of inactive, dormant, or extinct customer accounts and other online personal data swallowing up the digital landscape, writes Joe Macleo in UX Magazine.

As designers, one of our objectives when creating digital services and products should be to incorporate a “closure experience” that allows customers to end their relationship with the service as easily as they started it. A good closure experience brings a satisfactory conclusion to a product or service relationship, with each party feeling satisfied with the completed transaction. It should be a fair and just conclusion without consequence.

Users will feel increasingly vulnerable as more and more services fail to deliver closure, leaving user data hopelessly exposed in endlessly open digital relationships. Increased consideration for closure experiences in our designs can help with this.

8 December 2013

Robert Fabricant on scaling your UX strategy

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Leading businesses like Google are exploring scalable strategies that make UX relevant to engineers and MBAs across their organizations.

Robert Fabricant has posted a quick look at some of the different strategies that they are deploying:
1. Lean UX
2. UX in R&D
3. Baby-Step UX
4. Six Sigma UX
5. Customer-Driven UX

8 December 2013

Britain’s Ministry of Nudges

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The title of this New York Times article sounds like a Monty Python sketch (intentionally, I guess). But the article is luckily quite a lot more serious, exploring how the British government – inspired by American behavioral economics – is finding new ways to gently prod people to pay taxes, find jobs and insulate their homes:

“A small band of psychologists and economists is quietly working to transform the nation’s policy making. Inspired by behavioral science, the group fans out across the country to job centers, schools and local government offices and tweaks bureaucratic processes to better suit human nature. The goal is to see if small interventions that don’t cost much can change behavior in large ways that serve both individuals and society.

It is an American idea, refined in American universities and popularized in 2008 with the best seller “Nudge,” by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. Professor Thaler, a contributor to the Economic View column in Sunday Business, is an economist at the University of Chicago, and Mr. Sunstein was a senior regulatory official in the Obama administration, where he applied behavioral findings to a range of regulatory policies, but didn’t have the mandate or resources to run experiments.

But it is in Britain that such experiments have taken root. Prime Minister David Cameron has embraced the idea of testing the power of behavioral change to devise effective policies, seeing it not just as a way to help people make better decisions, but also to help government do more for less.”

6 December 2013

The psychology behind information dashboards

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With its interactive and intuitive interface and its ability to visualize data in a single screen, the information dashboard is becoming a critical tool in the hands of the business user. Moreover, it is also making its way into apps used by laypeople for managing day-to-day activities like budget tracking and fitness management.

So what makes information dashboards so appealing to the human mind? What is it that the human mind seeks that is so nicely provided by information dashboards? Shilpi Choudhury explores.

In synthesis: Any product that has an information dashboard as one of its key offerings should keep the psychological needs of its end users in mind. Users like being in control, they have a limited short-term memory, and they love things that are simple. These three factors should form the foundation of all dashboard designs. Understand your user’s requirements and add in your design best practices and you have the ingredients for creating the perfect information dashboard.

6 December 2013

The UX explorers at Ford: an interview with Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau

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In response to the recent explosion in UX, Ford Motor Company has hired folks like Parrish Hanna and Chris Thibodeau — Global Director of Human-Machine Interface and Executive Manager of Global Product Planning for User Interface, Connectivity, and Infotainment respectively — to react and reshape Ford’s user experience.

Hanna’s past was non-automotive having spent years in the connected world with Motorola. “I came from consumer electronics and telecommunications, where you are always looking for a captive space in which to work, like a kitchen or living room. Automotive has that captive space, which makes a big difference. The challenge is to help the user with other elements such as dealing with comfort, efficiency, interactions like navigation, making a call, listening to music, etc. layered in a single space and controlled in multiple dimensions, not to mention adjusting things like momentum and braking. A great blend of physical and digital design challenges.”

Thibodeau, on the other hand, comes from a long history of automotive product development (Visteon, GM) with teams including user experience designers and researchers. “It takes a two-prong approach to plan and design effectively. Silo engineering is not the way to get great user experiences. Parrish and I help and strive to bring a cross-functional mindset.”

Steve Tengler recently had an opportunity to sit down with both of them and inquire about Ford’s new direction for user experience and the next generation of human-machine interfaces.

6 December 2013

New UK Lab to transform healthcare using design

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A new centre will bring the principles of design into the heart of a leading hospital to create a global research hub for “frugal innovation and high-impact, low-cost design”, writes The Times Higher Education.

Royal College of Art (press release) and the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London (press release), have together launched the Helix Centre for Design and Innovation in Healthcare, Europe’s first dedicated centre for healthcare design and innovation..

“Innovation in healthcare can come at a high price. In the developed world it is often characterised by costly and high tech initiatives, where ideas can take a decade to deliver from concept into a clinician’s hands. HELIX will use design to solve everyday problems in healthcare, focusing on low cost solutions which can be adopted more quickly by health systems. Everything the centre does will be firmly rooted in patient care – based out of St Mary’s Hospital its sole focus will be on design that directly improves the care that patients receive

medical equipmentThe Centre will bring together clinicians, academics, technologists and venture capitalist expertise with NHS staff to develop innovations with global application. Recognising that some of the promising technologies in healthcare are developing outside the UK, HELIX will work collaboratively with international academic and commercial partners such as Stanford University, Singapore University of Technology and Design the IDEO and TATA in India to develop ideas and create commercial opportunities for our best designs.

The Centre will use its research strengths and diverse networks to explore how design in health care can enhance patient care including meeting the needs of an ageing population, improve clinical outcomes and prevent or mitigate against disease.”

6 December 2013

UK Cabinet Office policy lab aims to create designer public services

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Public service design is about to hit the mainstream. In December the Cabinet Office will launch a new policy lab tasked with using design to “re-invigorate policymaking in the UK civil service”, reports The Guardian.

The new lab to be launched in December will work with departments on their toughest problems, drawing on design methods such as ethnography to shed new light on what services people really need, and what a better solution might look like.

“Most design in the public sector is focused on transactions with government, such as applying for a passport. Much less has been done on design for improving human services such as drug rehabilitation. Even where design is deployed, it is usually only used to reshape a particular service not redesign the system surrounding it. So although some have designed to cut reoffending, designers have not yet had the chance to explore why offending is happening in the first place.

Moreover, design needs to learn from other public service fields, such as behavioural economics and social finance. The public service design revolution is just beginning.”

29 November 2013

Design your way to better public services

 

Innovative design-based approaches to public service management can rapidly enhance user experience whilst driving effective and efficient policymaking, explains Lucy Kimbell on the site of the Policy Network (the UK’s leading thinktank and international political network based in London).

“[The UK Cabinet Office, the Young Foundation, the International Telecommunications Union amd Nesta] are all examples of organisations reaching out to something confusingly called “Design”, in their attempts to create and deliver better responses to social challenges. Here, “better” public services can be understood through the lens of Roman architect Vitruvius. Well-designed public services should be pleasing and easy to access and use from the end user’s perspective (venustas). They should use resources effectively and efficiently, for example, reducing public sector investment (firmitas). And they should achieve policy goals resulting in the impacts that were the point of creating the solution in the first place (utilitas).

Helpful is how Kimbell describes what is distinctive about an approach where a team of people from policy, social science, technology and design backgrounds together take a design-led approach to addressing social challenges.

28 November 2013

Design Week reflects on the business potential of service design

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Design Week investigates a new wave of service design proponants who are helping to embed design in big brands.

Taking the two-day Service Design Global Conference as a context, the author highlights the radical changes businesses are making by using design to deliver profitable customer-focused experiences.

In particular, the article profiles four cases:

The work of business management firm Capita in helping their clients reshape entire services – the recruitment process for The British Army, and the UK TV licensing process for example – through long term consulting contracts.

Barclays, and in particular the Barclays Pingit project, a payment mobile app that allows users to make and receive payments using their phone’s contact book.

Xerox’s transformation from a tech manufacturer into a services business.

Ideo.org‘s work with Unilever, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to design a scalable business in Kenya selling water alongside hygiene and nutrition products.

27 November 2013

[Report] Leading Business by Design

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Design is now firmly on the business agenda. No longer the cherry on the cake for high-end goods and luxury brands, over the past decade it has gained relevance for the way organisations are structured, how they operate and how they think. An increasing number are starting
to use design strategically – to differentiate themselves from the competition, to launch new brands and strengthen existing ones, and to inform strategic choices. There is already considerable evidence for design acting as a mechanism for business growth and innovation.

This research, conducted by Warwick Business School on behalf of UK Design Council, aims to build on such evidence by asking business leaders of various organisations how they use design, and how they benefit from it.

Interviews with business leaders from world–class companies like Barclays, Diageo, Virgin Atlantic and Herman Miller led to three main findings:

  1. Design is customer-centred – Benefit is greatest when design is intimately related to solving problems, especially customers’ problems.
  2. Design is most powerful when culturally embedded – It works best when it has strong support in the organisation, especially from senior management.
  3. Design can add value to any organisation – Design can benefit manufacturing and service-based organisations, small, medium or large.

The report’s eight recommendations for how companies can maximise the impact of design:

  1. Don’t limit the context in which design can operate
  2. Use design to differentiate
  3. Integrate design and branding
  4. Introduce a design process
  5. Trust and support your design talent
  6. Embed design in your organisational culture
  7. Design your work environment
  8. Don’t let the designer’s role be a straitjacket
27 November 2013

Melinda Gates on the power of human-centered design

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Interesting quote from a Wired interview with Melinda Gates and Paul Farmer:

WIRED: What innovation do you think is changing the most lives in the developing world?
MELINDA GATES: Human-centered design. Meeting people where they are and really taking their needs and feedback into account. When you let people participate in the design process, you find that they often have ingenious ideas about what would really help them. And it’s not a onetime thing; it’s an iterative process.

How does that work in practice?
PAUL FARMER: In Haiti I would see people sleeping outside the hospital with their donkey saddle under their neck — they’d been waiting there for days. And no one was asking them, “What are you eating while you’re waiting? What is your family eating while you’re gone?” We have to design a health delivery system by actually talking to people and asking, “What would make this service better for you?” As soon as you start asking, you get a flood of answers.

27 November 2013

[Report] Next generation working life

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How will work be organized in the Networked Society? Fundamental changes are taking place. Cultural changes and rapid technological development are changing the rules and opening up for new ways of structuring business and changes in the workplace. Ideas and innovation are fueling this move forward. It is becoming more important, if not essential to stay in a constant state of evolution while creating a climate where new ideas can surface and grow. So how will you survive in this new game?

In its report ‘Next generation working life – from workspace to exchange space’, Ericsson has identified eight themes that are affecting the future of work and that are likely to have fundamental implications for working life, from both an employer and an employee perspective.

25 November 2013

BancoSmart video – Experientia’s ATM interface for UniCredit Bank

 

Experientia’s innovative ATM interface for UniCredit Bank has started to roll out across ATMs in Italy, and UniCredit has created a video to showcase some of the features.

Experientia’s interface design reinvents the ATM interface – making it easier to use, faster, and with more services, all offered through full touchscreen interaction. Not only is the ATM full touchscreen, it’s also personalised, featuring a home page tailored to users.

The ATM offers several original features, conceived especially for UniCredit Bank, based on Experientia’s research. The main innovations include:

  • Speedy withdrawal, with 3 predefined options on the Home Page based on the most frequent behaviours of the user, which the system learns over time. This cuts the time for common task completion by 30%.
  • Georeferenced payment service, which organises bill payment options and filters them based on what is available in the user’s location.
  • Adaptive interface, with a home page that offers personalised content based on the user’s banking profile.
  • Tone of voice, with the creation of a coherent language in all situations, which is more friendly and direct, and provides the correct support during operations.
  • Contextual support and feedback – Contextual messages and continuous feedback keep people informed during interaction, particularly in case of data entry errors or other problems, using a clear language and coherent visual support.
24 November 2013

[Book] Public and Collaborative

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Public and Collaborative
Exploring the intersection of design, social innovation and public policy

Ezio Manzini and Eduardo Staszowski (Editors)
New York, September 2013, 181 pages
Download [Alternative links 1 - 2]

This book edited by Ezio Manzini and Eduardo Staszowski documents and presents some reflections on efforts of DESIS Labs in Europe, Canada, and the United States that are participating in the Public and Collaborative Thematic Cluster. It includes 11 articles that present from a critical perspective the labs’ projects and activities during the 2012-2013 period. The book opens with Christian Bason’s paper, “Discovering Co-production by Design”. In this paper Bason, Director of Denmark’s MindLab, proposes a broad view of how design is entering the public realm and the policymaking processes. His essay offers updated and stimulating context for the entire book.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Ezio Manzini, Eduardo Staszowski

Foreword

Discovering co-production by design
Christian Bason, Director of Mindlab, Denmark
This article explores how design methods, including user research and involvement, ideation, prototyping and experimentation, are experienced and used by public managers.

Chapter 1: Designing new relationships between people and the State

  • Peer-production in public services: Emerging themes for design research and action
    Andrea Botero, Joanna Saad-Sulonen, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
    This article collects a set of emerging themes for design research and action, based on lessons learned from case studies and research projects in Helsinki, Finland that deal with peer production of public services.
  • Service design for intercultural dialogue: Making a step forward towards a multicultural society
    Margherita Pillan, Irina Suteu, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
    How to promote social cohesion in multicultural urban environments? What role can service design play with respect to a full acceptance of social change due to multicultural complexity? How can we contribute to public service innovation so to correspond to multicultural issues?
  • Reflections on designing for social innovation in the public sector: a case study in New York City
    Eduardo Staszowski, Scott Brown, Benjamin Winter, Parsons The New School for Design, New York, USA
    This article examines the “Designing Services for Housing” project as a case study for identifying various challenges designers face in working in collaboration with public partners to effect social change in the public realm.

Chapter 2: Design schools as agents of change

  • Seven reflections on design for social innovation, students & a neighbourhood
    Nik Baerten, Pantopicon, Antwerp, Belgium
    The process to involve students from several schools and neighborhood inhabitants as well as the public sector in design activities aimed at social innovation, presents a series of challenges worth reflecting upon. This article presents seven key learnings, using the “Welcome to Saint-Gilles” project as its main inspiration and case study.
  • Learning together: Students and community groups co-designing for carbon reduction in the London Borough Of Camden
    Adam Thorpe, Lorraine Gamman, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK
    This article reflects on how the University of the Arts London (UAL) DESIS Lab, working in partnership with the London Borough of Camden’s Sustainability Team, supported students from CSM’s BA Product Design and MA Applied Imagination courses to collaborate with local residents to design new ways to change behaviors to reduce carbon emissions.

Chapter 3: Experimental places for social and public innovation

  • Participatory design for social and public innovation: Living Labs as spaces of agonistic experiments and friendly hacking
    Per-Anders Hillgren, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden
    This article will present some learning’s and reflection on what role we as a design school can take when running a DESIS lab where we approach several of the urgent challenges that face society today.
  • From welfare state to partner state: The case of Welcome to Saint-Gilles
    Virginia Tassinari, MAD, Genk, Belgium
    This article shares a series of reflections on the nature of Public Innovation Places (PIP), looking at the process that eventually can lead to establish a PIP and at the role of design schools therein – starting from the concrete experience of the project ‘Welcome to Saint-Gilles’.
  • Innovation without boundaries: Ecology of innovation and municipal service design
    Luigi Ferrara, Institute without Boundaries, Toronto, Canada
    Magdalena Sabat, New York University, New York, USA

    The Institute without Boundaries (IwB)’s emphasis on design thinking and an ecology of innovation approach have enabled creative interventions and design solutions for the public service sector. The article describes the IwB’s collaborations with the cities of Markham and Dublin.

Chapter 4: Collaborative design – methods and tools

  • The Teen Art Park Project: Envisioning spaces for artistic expression and social sustainability
    Mariana Amatullo, Design Matters at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, USA
    This essay presents the Teen Art Park Project as a case study of a collaborative public sector design endeavor that includes planning for a recreational environment that is intended to serve disadvantaged teenagers with structures co-designed to foster safe, artistic expression.
  • Collaborative design strategies: Helping to change the practice of care
    Kristin Hughes, Peter Scupelli, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Using a design-lead approach we help physicians aid conversations around obesity prevention with children. A highly participatory, transparent approach informed the design of a product and service known as Fitwits MD. We describe the design process, dissemination, and evaluation linked to the making and development of this tool.
  • Acupuncture planning by design
    François Jégou, Clara Delétraz, Giovanna Massoni, Jean-Baptiste Roussat, Marie Coirié, Brussels, Belgium / Paris, France
    The article discusses the experiences of design schools engaging in co-creating sustainable living scenarios with the population of Paris-Saclay Campus in France and Liège Saint-Gilles neighbourhood in Belgium, and questions how design schools approaches may renew the ways local urban planning is usually conducted:

The DESIS Network is an international network of design schools and organizations focused on design for sustainability and social innovation, in which research labs based in cities around the word are developing parallel projects at the intersection of public services, social networks, and design.
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