Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Co-designing for Society (journal paper)

This year the Australasian Medical Journal (AMJ) ran another special Design + Health edition to explore ideas in designing for health. Deborah Szebeko, founder of social design agency thinkpublic and I followed up our previous year's Co-designing for Dementia: The Alzheimer100 Project (2009) paper with this new one called, Co-designing for Society (2010).

In this paper, we elaborate more on co-design, its approach, tools, processes and practices using several of thinkpublic's projects. At the end of the paper we also touch on what next for co-design, especially in line with the political climate here in the UK where the Coalition advocates Building Big Society which sees “a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, not state control.”

The Design Council have also been actively exploring co-design and organising discussions among the design community to understand the practice better. Check out their published summary here.

Monday, 25 October 2010

'Personal projects'

It's been a long time since I have posted here, and I make no excuses except to say that finishing a PhD is the hardest and longest process ever! But more on that later...

Today, I felt compelled to post something after a Skype chat this morning with my friend Natalie's MA Design class. This post is not just for designers, but everyone, who seeks a space for themselves that is totally their own. It's not a physical space, but a mental one. This space lets you explore your own ideas, passion and interests. It's what Ji Lee (a Creative Director a Google) calls 'personal projects.'

I first encountered Ji and Ji's personal projects in 2008 at the Graphic Design Festival Breda in the Netherlands (an earlier blog post and some photos can be found here). I was struck by Ji's Bubble Project. And on many levels. The Bubble Project is about giving a voice to the public in the one-way communication culture of advertising and media that surrounds us. Empty white speech bubbles on ads invite the public to fill in their own commentary.

I love the idea for inspiring the creativity of people, of giving them a voice, and also for the fun it evokes (check out some bubbles here on Flickr). A lot of it was reminiscent of the Dott 07 projects and there was no doubt that Ji and his project would be appearing somewhere in my PhD thesis.

But there was another level of Ji's project that interested me. That was the idea of doing 'personal projects.' Those projects where you give yourself the space, time and permission to explore and pursue your passionate interests that exist outside of work. I can already hear questions such as, 'But what if I don't have the time?' so I'm going to leave you for 8 minutes with Ji, and let him tell you a bit about the Bubble Project and explain what he's learnt about doing personal projects, including some thoughts about the concept of time. I hope it helps inspire the creation of your own space to pursue and explore passionate interests, just like Ji did.

Ji Lee: The Transformative Power of Personal Projects from 99% on Vimeo.