design in local
Dr Andrea Siodmok
7th Nov 2012
House of Lords
Helsinki World Design Capital
Design can act big and small. It can change the course of
history. The US ‘Butterfly Ballot’ forms in 2000 confused
some voters with the election being won by 537 votes.
Design has become commoditised. Most notably in the
1980s, which has had an impact on the industry. The term
‘innovation’ is facing the same misuse and dilution.
Design is critical to Europe and to sustainable growth.
The recent European Design Leadership board has made
recommendations to ensure design is key to recovery.
With Europe’s support Cornwall has invested over £250m
in innovation infrastructure in the last three years making
it one of the most connected places in the world.
Pool Innovation Centre £12m
Tremough Innovation Centre £13m
Health and Wellbeing Innovation centre (HWIC) £13m
Academy of Innovation
& Research £9m
Professional solutions for
Collaborative co-delivery of
Innovation new solutions
Public realm Innovation:
Innovation designing new
Collaborative co-delivery of
Innovation new solutions
social by people
Designers are naturally optimistic and constantly
dissatisfied. The many challenges we face in the next
decade call for creativity, fresh thinking and pragmatism.
St Ives from Tate
World leaders in Davos 2012 cited growing inequality as
the most important issue after the economy that needs
The economic crisis has caused a big rethink. The wicked
problems we face are hard to define, persistent and
contradictory and can require us to ask new questions.
Can less be more? How can the public sector cut costs by
50% and still meet growing public expectations for choice
and quality? The solutions inevitably become more radical
Do we reconfigure existing services? Or create, reinvent,
enable new peer-peer services like 21st century hitch
hiking using digital technologies and social capital.
Shaped by Us...
Making good ideas happen
Shaped by Us project
Sketching to think. Visualising new ideas can be a
powerful force for change, helping people co-design and
co-create ideas for the future together.
Shaped by Us project
A picture paints a thousand words. Designer’s ability to
draw out an abstract idea can make it more concrete so it
can be shared, challenged and improved.
Co-discovery is democratic. To start our challenge we
built a post-it note wall so elected members could identify
one thing they would redesign to make Cornwall better.
The post-its cost a few pounds and we have used the wall
over and over again. It remained outside the council
chamber for a week for all staff and members to see.
Each post-it note had the name of the Council member and
the area they represent – 123 ideas from ‘Stop seagulls
attacking rubbish’ to ‘Have a strategy for Cornwall’.
Royal Cornwall Showground
Design is positive. At our leadership conference 200 staff
posted their ‘best public service experience’ on the wall
before starting an Open Space Technology (OST) session.
We work on the ground with local people, listening in new
ways and developing a ‘common sense’ of current needs
We show up in unusual places confounding expectations
and in that moment engaging people in new ways.
Making it fun, easy and satisfying to get involved.
We use the web to share ideas with thousands of people
to build momentum and focus through digital tools, spoof
films and social media.
Our radical approach ignites peoples’ passion to make a
difference. We ask unthinkable questions and allow
audacious ideas to be considered.
And by getting everyone involved in contributing ideas,
experience and knowledge through co-design techniques
we turn self interest into shared interests.
Mentors worked with communities to shape ideas and
build realistic business plans, encouraging
Our Community Innovation Awards at the Eden Project
gave a platform to local people. We created an Angel’s
Den of experts who invested in the best proposals.
/ Discovering Challenges
Transport & Town & Energy & Learning & Healthcare &
Mobility Country Environment Skills Wellbeing
Infrastructure Homes & Agriculture Politics & Work &
& Technology Community & Food Democracy Economy
What can design do?
— Unearth where the real problem lies
— Understand motives and latent needs in
order to create the right incentives for
— Prototype, test, iterate and de-risk policy
— Create space to ‘think differently’ 80% of
impact is determined in the design phase
— Reduce cost of services by designing-in
For example, we built a hotel in a day from 10,000 disused
tent poles with 1,000s of volunteer hours for disaster relief
charity ShelterBox raising £1,000s for a good cause.
In one project we used apples as cultural probes.
We are building our knowledge of co-design techniques to
break down barriers and challenge false perceptions so that
local people can be actively involved creating new ideas.
Our change starts small and without expense, such as
local children co-designing a new community centre using
cake to build the walls and furniture.
Peer to peer community reporters have brought new
insights into different people’s lives. We would have had
different responses wearing suits and carrying clip boards.
Trust is the currency of community. Building trust with
local people has taken many different forms, including
creating a Christmas tree of wishes.
In our evaluation a quote showed the importance of
ethnographic insights ‘what do designers know about
fishing and fishermen’
Is skillful and fun
Image: Carbon calculator and winning school
#8 Eco-design challenge Students calculated their school’s carbon footprint with online tools and
developed a range of ideas to tackle waste and reduce CO2. Dick Strawbridge and judges from Nesta,
In the Eco-design Challenge schoolchildren showed how
Design Council and Cornwall Council awarded £15k to three schools to implement their ideas.
good ideas can be implemented through peer power.
Thinking Room was created in April 2011 to develop next
generation public services following from Designs of the
Time programme in Cornwall (www.dottcornwall.com)
It is based at Cornwall Council but operates across the
private, public and third sector to develop radical new
thinking and approaches to Cornwall’s future.
We use creative techniques and tools to work
collaboratively with citizens, professionals, designers and
policy makers to develop new ideas.
Because in our vision, people lead change and use their
local knowledge, networks, ingenuity and compassion to
deeply understand how to create meaningful change.
Our youngest innovators are learning to speak, our oldest
have been retired for decades, often the best ideas come
through bringing together new and old perspectives.
We like unconventional wisdom, and find asking the same
questions in new places creates magical results. Our
dinner in a boatyard kick-started new Dinner by Something from Us
We try and tackle the burning issues of our times, working
across areas of employment, health, energy, transport,
housing to name a few.
Finally we spend as much effort changing the system so
that radical becomes the normal way of working so rather
than finding a quick fix we build a permanent fixture.
1. Inspire Change by sharing good ideas and practices
A workshop for project managers with ‘props’ tackling a
range of challenges, identifying and understanding how to
remove inefficiencies and improve innovation.
Thinking Room: Nov 2011
Thinking Room is not a lab or a space, it is an approach
that we have been sharing throughout the council. It has
practical methods and tools. @thinking_room
Our approach is simple and our work often turns
convention on its head by creating space and time to
discover real needs.
Some sketches from our co-design session which
informed the heath and wellbeing strategy.
Design of new service
Nesta / LGA Creative Councils programme
Dott Cornwall partners: Design Council, Cornwall Council, Technology
Strategy Board, University College Falmouth
Images from Flickr
Social and Service Design teams:
Something from Us
Leap Design for Change
* Views in this presentation my own based on experience in Dott Cornwall and Cornwall
Council developing Thinking Room & Shaped by Us @shapecornwall @thinking_room