Experience Based Design: Healthcare

Public institutions are often criticized as being bureaucratic, inefficient, or ineffective at fulfilling the purposes they are designed to do, compared with private, user-centric, industries. Often in the case of public institutions, individuals have no opportunity to choose a better product, as is the case in the private sector. That therefore leaves little incentive to innovate the design of public services. However initiatives are not absent. ThinkPublic, a social design agency, has worked with hospitals in the UK to redesign the National Health Service to become a more patient-centered public service. Their experience based design methodology involves individuals’ experiences, existing and aspirational, in the design process. Interviews, videos, photographs, journals, and web blogs of patients, carers, and hospital staff have all been used to design new, patient-centered, solutions for several difficult areas of health care, while simultaneously encouraging patients, carers, and staff to work together to address problems.
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ColourNext 2012: The Process

ColourNext is an innovative trend forecasting initiative for Indian interiors, developed by Asian Paints and conducted in collaboration with the Center for Knowledge Societies. The ColourNext process includes gaining an understanding of emerging societal trends and changes in consumer behavior, and thereafter predicting their impact on design and décor choices. The resultant output includes an in-depth analysis of four prominent societal trends, along with information about relevant social events, media and brand associations, moods, emotions, and an expertly curated colour palette related to each trend.

ColourNext 2012 marks a decade of this work, which has been widely influential in defining colour choices in interior decor over the course of its evolution. This time around, however, certain changes were made to the process in order to make it a more wide-ranging trend forecasting, where the focus was not solely on colour and visual trends, but on larger societal trends.

The process began with preliminary secondary research of online sources, where researchers collected both textual and visual data of prominent changes and news from different industries. Alongside this, researchers also conducted a ‘visual scan,’ a comprehensive record of various kinds of visual data prevalent in everyday contexts, from magazines, newspapers, high fashion and design to hoardings and billboards. They then began to assimilate a realistic picture of what these various changes in society, technology, media, design and culture could mean for visual design and aesthetics.

Seven strong social trends emerged from this phase of data collection, which were then presented to experts during in-depth interviewed in order to validate and refine them. Visual design trends were correlated to these seven societal and lifestyle trend stories, garnered from a visual bank of over 1000 images. 700 of these were selected to be presented as stimuli during ‘creative studio workshops,’ where the team invited experts from a range of different backgrounds to collaboratively predict visual and design trends for the coming year, of which eleven were considered pertinent for the coming year.

This was followed by focused interviews with experts in different industries such as media, space design, architecture and interior decor in order to ground the trends in local happenings, whilst keep global influences in mind. Collaborative creative workshops were held to validate these, followed by a discussion on these trends by a panel consisting of seasoned sociologists and media experts in order to filter these down to the strongest trends.

Thereafter, workshops were held in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, engaging 32 experts and 60 students in various creative settings. These day-long intensive creative studio workshops created a vast pool of fresh visual themes, that were filtered down and fine-tuned to make up the final themes of ColourNext 2012. This happened in eight collaborative workshops where the Asian Paints and CKS teams worked together with colour consultants to cluster and filter the entire set of themes.

The information from all these sessions was collated and presented at Style Leader Workshops, where leaders and design thinkers from various industries like architecture, photography, art-direction, product design, apparel design, media and design education came together to decide upon the best possible thematic visual directions for the year 2012. Once the themes were voted upon during these workshops, the project teams from Asian Paints and CKS were able to finally crystallize all the information into the four major themes being revealed later today, at the ColourNext 2012 launch.

As a final step, the team collaborated with colour consultants to translate the final themes into colour and material palettes. These palettes sought to capture a critical part of the visual expression of every theme as well as the meanings, emotions and moods that themes are meant to express. The launch today will present installations on each of these themes, which will also be the subject of discussion for ColourNext Dialogues, to be held the following day, the 24th of January (see agenda).

A Parable on Innovation

By Aditya Dev Sood

You are tasked with finding ways to design new kind of toilets, ones which will actually be used by those who have no experience using them. The challenge is complex because it is underdefined. Do you change the people or do you change the design? What kind of new design might work? It boggles your mind, just as it has defeated the minds of so many social workers and bureaucrats over the many years since Gandhi made toilet design an integral part of his program for the upliftment of India.

To try to bound the problem you agree to do fieldwork in rural India. Participant observation, to be precise. Early in the morning, you rise from your bedding with your host and take a walk out towards the fields. The light is still soft, the birds are singing, and the leaves rustle in the gentle breeze. You have your bottle of mineral water clutched firmly in your right hand. Your host points out a spot. It is secluded, partially hidden, and with a faint grimace you settle down to the act. It is necessary to understand the point of view that you are trying to change.

On the third morning you are walking back from the fields with a faint smile of contentment trying to remember why you are here. Toilets? Why on earth would anyone want to give up the simple and elemental pleasure of crapping in the fields? We are human mammals, evolved in riverine deltas and migrated to savannas, why do we need toilets? This is the natural way, the only way to betake oneself.

You return from the field shaken in your understandings down to your very inner core and sense of self. Everything you knew about the problem is out the window. Now you are ready to design, not one toilet, but an array of propositions and possibilities, that collectively transform the very way in which we think about what toilets are and what they are supposed to do. Innovation has begun to be possible.

The grand challenges facing our society remain unsolved because they represent an intersection between competing needs and desires for which no solution has yet been found. Once a solution is found, the challenge will become trivial, for an off-the-shelf solution for the problem will already exist: a ‘best practice.’ Until then, we will need the application of design in thought and innovation in action to discover possible, incremental solutions to these socio-technical problems.

To identify those grand challenges facing us, and to explore and articulate how innovation approaches can help us grapple with them is one of the key goals of the upcoming Design Public Conclave.