My Design Process — Field Of Influence Designer Responsibility

RMIT MDF — Future Design Contexts, Assignment 3 Georgina Lewis

Impact has been the driver in my career transition from product manufacturing into design strategy. I believe that I can contribute more positively in the tech field, to solving some important problems, which is a real goal for my future practice. I see myself transitioning from product designer to PSS Product System Service Design.

Designers are in a unique position to affect change in many types of industries. I’m tired of designing products that will end up in landfill, systems that are too complicated for organisations to implement and selling solutions that I don’t believe in.

Design is not just what I do, it’s who I am. It shapes my world view and certainly the way in which I view a problem. As Zaana Howard explains, design is incredibly contextual and to understand the problem you must first understand the environment that it comes from.

We need to challenge the design world to take the “product” out of product design for a second and deliver results and impact rather than form and function; to reconsider who our clients really are; to turn our tightly-cinched consumer business models and luxury aesthetics on their heads; to get over “going green;” and to enlist a new generation of design activists. We need big hearts, bigger business sense, and even bigger balls. [1]

My core values coupled with real world experiences shaped into powerful co-working and iterative tools will inform the way my future practice unfolds.

  1. Understanding to me is learning from everybody.
  2. Consciousness is noticing messages that people don’t even realise they are sending.
  3. Creativity is the ability to find joy in the mundane.
  4. Credibility is the combination of an abstract value such as integrity, coupled with measurable professional results that require understanding, consciousness and creativity to achieve them.

My Past Experience — Do What You Can

Understanding to me is learning from everybody. Seeing the invisible by noticing what others don’t and identifying the multiple paths to a resolution. In this way Service Design is characteristic of my previous experience, especially by advocating for both staff and customers within a delivery system.

I have always infiltrated a business and become an advocate for those within it, from selling clothing in my part time job as a teenager to my role as design manager for a national bathroom goods supplier. The teachings of Tristan Cooke have informed me that interrogating problems, making personal connections and being incredibly efficient and effective at deciding “what to do next” in a process is integral to being a great service designer.[2]

I have valuable skills to contribute and naturally identify ways to improve processes, procedures and processes. However in order to make an impact it’s important to be conscious of the needs of the project, business or person you’re ultimately serving (design the perfect solution that will work for that problem not just a perfect solution as Zaana reminds us). [3]

I do have a history of playing down my influence, but I will be taking ownership over my role as a design leader to instil confidence and inspire action in my future collaborators, client and colleague alike. I need to build a collection of projects where I am involved in the entire process of product delivery with a mix of identifying and working with key stakeholders and end users, in the past working in product design my field of influence has been quite narrow with how what I have designed is made, having little to do with me.

‘Design is recognised as having a potentially negative effect on our environment through waste of our finite resources, increasing pollution and contributing to climate change. Design has been deeply involved in the development of the consumer-driven throw-away culture that has contributed to high resource use since the advent of Industrial Design in the 1940’s. Increasingly design is also being seen as part of the solution to addressing the negative impacts of consumerism. [4]

My Present — Start Where You Are

Consciousness is noticing messages that people don’t even realise they are sending, and being self aware enough to realise that what you think feel or judge in someone’s experience does not matter at all. That’s true empathy, a trait instrumental to service, strategic and transition design. Understanding other’s points of view is imperative to working collaboratively, especially within multi-disciplinary teams.

I work well within a team and like to see the impact that I have made over time within an organisation. In the same way that I recognise the strengths of others when I work within an organisation or on a multi disciplinarian project, doing this MDF has certainly helped me to identify my strengths.

My intension is to drive innovation within small to medium sized businesses by offering business analysis through mapping company and user work flows, interviewing staff and stakeholders. Since undertaking MDF (I’m only two subjects in) I’ve noticed my understanding of process and field of influence expanding.

I have noticed a theme of businesses transitioning to appeal to more ethically minded consumers (also a growing group who are not going away) and I could offer mini strategic courses on “getting all your ducks in a row” in order to do this . I have connections in the manufacturing and tech industries in Melbourne, Brisbane and London. I am active in a entrepreneurial organisations for small to medium sized business so I would focus my offering around them.

Future— Do Better

Creativity is the ability to find joy in the mundane. Mine the data, interrogate the system, seek out the evidence, draw the problem, play with the idea. There are a number of ways to do this, but I like to sketch, make models, explain the idea to an unfamiliar party and reflect while doing something that has nothing to do with my practice…

I am particularly inspired by the way that Leah Heiss has designed her practice to span professional and academic practice and her process in making an artefact is also an artefact in itself for her business.

The world doesn’t need another derivative designer product that doesn’t challenge disrupt or hold up to use over time.
 I intend to specialise in designer products and procedures that are accessible to all types of business, particularly traditionally non-creative offerings.

Just as Leah advocates for the disenfranchised, and Tristan is interested in the mundane and making it better…I am interested in the problems that many other designers are not. My future practice will design the pathways, systems and solutions that make ethical consumerism easier for everyone.

For most of us, buying stuff is a daily occurrence. These expenses add up and habits form. Buy fast, buy cheap, buy easy…we’ve all done it. There are many things to consider when buying stuff, especially repeat purchases like toilet paper and cleaning products or clothes. A good choice has to deliver a great product and value for you, but how about if it helps someone else too? Wouldn’t that be…good? [5]

The business would easily traverse the varied landscape of health, education, large organisational systems and change management within small to medium size businesses.

I see myself running my own company that supports products that are good for the world. I plan to either produce sustainable products, or promote those that do, to ultimately improve the general literacy of the public of terms such as innovation, ethical and sustainability. I want to empower consumers by appreciating how important their everyday choices are.

The future of my business is the proliferation of sustainable products and services.

Multi Pronged Studio

  1. Producing beautiful products that work well, create the least amount of harm in their production and are good value.
  2. Facilitate workshops and seminars around waste reduction and solution focussed product changes.
  3. Business assessments. Mapping processes, and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Many mainstream representations of ethically produced goods are presenting an ill informed message and are unattractive to consumers.

Working with complexity can be frustrating — the people involved, the intractable problems and the scale — all make for situations that require a maturing approach to design. Zaana sees that as people adopt design as a way of being they can more readily accept the things that can’t be changed, at least not immediately. [6]

As Hugh Dubberly suggests, seeing patterns, making connections, and understanding relationships are in fact the essence of design. Yet few designers see that their design challenge is to understand, and often reorient, those relationships. Leveraging the right relationships and connecting the relevant people at the right time is key in solving complex problems.[7]

Credibility is the combination of an abstract value such as integrity, coupled with measurable professional results that require understanding, consciousness and creativity to achieve them. Or that’s how I see it anyway and if I can achieve results that are closely aligned with my own cultural and political beliefs of equality, care and opportunity for the majority of our society I will be happy.

I help make products that promote valuable crafts, are created responsibly and that can be enjoyed by the customer on more than one level. I wish to set up training workshops in conjunction with universities and manufacturers to educate designers on price, processes and promotion of their products. I hope my work will allow me to inspire others to make a difference in the design world.







[7] pp8, Fabrizio Ceschin (2014), Sustainable Product-Service Systems — Between Strategic Design and Transition Studies