Inside the head of a designer

Design Heroes
December 31, 2008, 1:01 am
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An interesting articles on the new rack of social/service designers with comments linking in the economic crisis.  Can we all become Bono-designers or does the smell of money make us designers turn on our sides?

When I was 18, I chose to live in Africa for 6 months, Tanzania, to teach on a secondary school.  It was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life and I fell head over heels in love with the country and the people.  It’s exciting to think that when I graduate my skills as a designer can be used to perhaps help improve aspects of peoples lives in third world countries, the questions is, as the writer from the article below points out, will we, as designers say no to the money god (Orwell) or give in and settle for better paid jobs in the industry.

Also rather excited for the Philip Stark ‘reality’ tv programme. that is going to be hilarious, I hope it’s pitched like x factor, yet another way for the british public to understand how design does NOT work, and be persuaded by the myth of the celebrity designer.  I am ranting now, I will stop.

Creative Solutions in Tough Times

Read the full article here at the International Herald Tribune

“…The economic crisis has also squashed any lingering doubts about the urgency of finding new ways to address acute social problems more efficiently – from caring for the expanding elderly population, to improving the management of over-stretched health care services. This newfound realism is already benefiting the emerging breed of “social designers.”

Another question is whether designers are ready to respond to these challenges, as “service” and “social” design involve very different skills to conventional design practice. The 20th-century notion of the lone “designer-hero”…”

What is design?
December 28, 2008, 4:22 am
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Design council video looking at the question, ‘what is design?’

Visiting Old territory
December 23, 2008, 1:03 pm
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Last wednesday, 17th december, I went back to The Royal High School, the place that inspired me, taught me, bored me, loved me all at the same time.  ‘bored’ is in reference to physics, no offence but I never did quite grasp logical scientific theory, in my opinion it was always magical gnomes that held us to the ground and not some Newton man who sat under a tree and got hit with an apple, not that he holds us down, his theories rather.


I was back presenting on behalf of the Glasgow School of Art, presenting my work, explaining the concept of service design and letting them know how the GSA works…I hope it went well, although there was a deadly silence at the end…it made me feel rather old and boring, haha…

well, anyway, for anyone who did attend the talk, I have put the links I listed on the left hand side.  I’m also going to post the pdf of the first half of the lecture, the rest I can’t post online due to restrictions on what gets published..

p.s A very funny photo I found of me back in the day with horrendous champion jumper and bolt fringe looking like a bit of a ned.  I appear to be hammering a shed…perhaps to pieces?

p.p.s The PDF of the talk for you to have a wee look at Royalhightalk

I Heart Buchanan
December 23, 2008, 12:45 pm
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the lovely place I used to work for.

amazing coffee made by my chum rosie. and beautiful sandwich from les chefs downstairs.  yum yum.

oh and working tomorrow until 9pm. If I have time I will make it to the pub in edinburgh hmmm!


still got to finish christmas shopping. bah humbug, I have witnessed two xmas arguements already! haha. did you know santa used to be green until the corporate giants coca cola got their mits on him?

The real work experience
December 23, 2008, 11:24 am
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Side project of think public, the real work experience.

“The real work experience aims to open design graduates’ eyes to the opportunities of using their skills beyond the usual design roles and the possibility of working in the public sector. Concurrently, the programme aims to educate public sector bodies on the skills and value designers can bring to their organisations.”

Perhaps this film will explain what the real work experience is about,

I guess I’m trying to answer what the Real Work Experience is but we were asked to find that out, through some key brainstorms of public sectors we could potentially work in, other examples of companies who already practice it or projects that have taken place, we then moved onto design what the real work experience should be.

Altogether, it was happening all over the country at the same time and a winner was chosen the following week.  Unfortuneatly we didn’t win but I get the feel from seeing the other entries that designers around the UK feel the same.

I feel that not only can we use our skills as designers to think and spot problems, use methods to achieve results and solve problems and visually represent our outcomes, I think we have the ability, and we should undertake the role to share these skills with ‘non designers’ in public sectors so they can use what we know to help them improve the run of their service.  I think this point is so important, yes we train as designers and learn different techniques but it should never be kept a secret, what I think the designer does is act as a facilitator of a project, they keep it running, hold it together, bring people together, perhaps service designers are more like great organisers than designers? food for thought.  on that note, I’m off for a coffee and to find out if getting paid £15 hour to work xmas eve is worth not waking up in my wee house in edinburgh for christmas

is there any public transport on xmas day between glasgow and edinburgh?  maybe I could cycle? 6 hours, myeh.

p.s link to think public and realworkexperience can be found on the left 🙂

December 19, 2008, 7:25 pm
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I am a moaner.  I realise now why I have chosen to focus my work as a designer in services and solving problems.

We are always moaning about bad customer service, I’m constantly bursting into a rant about the services I use, the person on the other side of the phone or the untrained “%*()& at the ticket office or till…it reminds me of something I saw on

these kind of rants are very useful to service designers, and alot can be taken from them, even if the information is anecdotal…

in other news, engine, got nominated for a London design museum award 2009.  The first service design project to be involved in the awards.  Finally, a sign of recognition for service design!