Designers have the opportunity and the privillage to influence the way people think and behave. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone is a designer.
“You have a duty to make it fun. Even when times are hard and the light gets dark. If you don’t you’ll just get born and then you’ll die. And that’s no fun.”
- Dan Germain
Since graduating form the Royal College of Art with a masters in Service Design* in 2018, I’ve been working as a designer in the UK Government. I worked initially in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) helping to establish the Local Digital Collaboration Unit, then for 3 years with Policy Lab, and now in the Farming and Countryside Programme at Defra (Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) helping to set up their first Policy Design Lab.
My original training was from Brighton University with a degree in 3D Design** back in 2007. Since then, I’ve researched and designed products, graphics, systems and services gathering plenty of stories and adventures along the way. I’ve done my fair share of internships, coffee shop jobs and ‘proper’ jobs, including running London’s favorite music venue - Union Chapel. I also exhibitied some of my work at London’s Marsden Woo Gallery, (ironically) have one of my designs in production with Suck UK, and in 2018 landed the Future of Money Design Award.
Physical objects still fascinate me, but it’s the stories and people that bind them together - and the futures they can create - that really motivate me.
Getting under the skin of places, behind the scenes of people’s lives, and imagining alternative futures, is what gets me excited. Aside from project research, I’ve found volunteering and travelling great ways to stay curious - I’ve walked across Spain, litter-picked Glastonbury Festival, been part of the inaugural DO Lectures, taught kids to make fires in the woods, cycled to Copenhagen using Warmshowers, run a marathon through French vineyards, and helped build a cinema with Assemble.
Languages are another interesting window on people, places and the past. Je parle français, hablo español, e un po'di italiano. Japanese is next on my lingusitic bucket list.
*Service Design is the joined-up design of experiences and interactions, both in the public and private sector, and includes the business models that underpin them. I find it useful to imagine a theatre director choreographing scenes of a story, working with a multi-disciplinary team front and back stage, with props, actors and scenery only limited by your collective imagination. It encompasses all the traditional design disciplines and requires a multi-disciplinary, systems approach integrating other fields of expertise and co-design with people.
**3D Design at Brighton University was essentially designing, and hands-on making objects in the workshop (wood, metal, plastics, ceramics), with a good dose of critical thinking and visual research.
Exhibitions & Awards
Future of Money Design Award, 2018
ShowRCA 2018, London
Lightworks, Marsden Woo Gallery, London, 2010
It’s Nice That Original Format Exhibition, 2008 Plymouth + London
Tent London, 2007
New Designers 2007, London
Reimagining the purpose of tax for a climate and biological emergency, 17 March 2022, Supra Systems Studio public lecture for London College of Communication (online)
Design in government: How to build an innovation culture, 28 April 2021 (online)
#OneGreenGov: What does the climate emergency mean to you?, London, 22 January 2020
Service Lab London: Designing for the planet and its people, London, 16 October 2019
Pushing The Needle: The Power of Speculative Design, Global Design Forum, V&A Museum, London, 17 Sept 2019
London Transport Museum Lates: Race for Space, London, 22 November 2018
The Fundamentals of Product Design, 2009
Frame Magazine, Jan 2008
Times Style Magazine, June 2007