Creating a Community to kick-start the Design Transitions book


I would never have dreamed of writing book, but with the motivation of capturing inspirational untold stories of how design practices are changing around the globe, my friend and colleague Dr. Joyce Yee was keen to start!

As I explained in my previous post called, ‘How do you start to walkabout? Start with Why’, wwe wanted to called our book Design Transitions. Having known and worked with Joyce for many years, I knew that she shared my passion for finding examples of organisations that are challenging the traditional notions of design, and exploring how design boundaries are expanding.

To kick this project off, we felt it was essential that we found stories that came from the design community. So we started to contact professionals and, through my blog, asked people to share the companies that they found inspirational blog This gave us a starting list of around 50 potential stories that we could pursue. It was great to get responses to my original blog post from all over the globe, from Brazil to New Zealand, and from companies like MadPow in the US to Lucien Engelen, who is developing a user-centred approach in health care at Rebound Reshape Innovation Center in The Netherlands.

Joyce and I were not sure of the best approach to capturing all of these stories, but we felt it was important to prototype our approach. As DesignThinkers were breaking new ground in the merging of design and business, they kindly agreed to be our first story. So Joyce came over from the UK, and we ran a workshop to test out our approach to documenting the key stages of transition within DesignThinkers’ practice.


Part of the ethos behind our book was to crowdsource our list of featured companies, and also to share the stories that we collected during the process of crafting the book. These stories were published on our project website Design Transitions - This was a way for us to collect and share further interesting stories that we may have missed in our initial list. By sharing and receiving feedback, we made sure the kinds of stories we were collecting and highlighting would be useful and highly relevant in developing an understanding of where design is heading.

Because of the scale of this project, I knew that Joyce and I could not do it alone. Doing the walkabout and finding stories would be quite challenging, so Joyce and I really felt we needed to get our amazing friend Dr. Lauren Tan in Australia on board, to help us find and craft the broadest possible range of stories. During her PhD studies at Northumbria University, Lauren was part-sponsored by the Design Council (UK) by studying design practices showing during Dott 07 (Designs of the time 2007). She studied the design practices that were showcased during Dott 07 (Designs of the time 2007), a year-long series of community projects, events and exhibitions in Newcastle, UK which explored what life in a sustainable region could look like and how design might help us get there. You can see some of the results of Lauren’s PhD work in her TED talk on co-designing for dementia. When we approached her, Lauren kindly agreed to join us on our Design Transitions journey – and we were really excited to have her on board!

So now we found ourselves with three Design Doctors embarking on a mission to capture how design is changing around the globe! How exciting, and also quite daunting…

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