Lauren Tan: insights into design and its contributions to public life

Lauren is a PhD candidate at Northumbria University’s design school. DOTT07 (a series of service design projects in England’s North East in 2006 and 2007 directed by John Thackara and funded by the Design Council) is her case-study.

Her biggest finding so far is that service design should focus on creating communities of practice instead of communities of purpose. Project clients of DOTT (service providers) learned that end users should be doers, not users; their services should bring changes into human beings. They also found it refreshing that service design gave them permission to do things differently, ad to engage people in different ways. It also helped them to deeply understand situations relating to their service, without needing a lot. Finally it facilitated collaboration in their organisations and with others.

Challenges they encountered were for instance the need to understand the policy issues related to their services better. Lauren concludes from all this that the innovation is in the process of service design much more so than in the outcomes. For her, design in public life doesn’t stop when the design work has been done.

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