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Through London design firm BERG’s blog, I’ve come across the practice of writing a ‘weeknote’; a reflection of what’s going on with the team each Friday. Encouraging people to be more reflective is an aspect of lots of the RSA’s work, for example in human behaviour and education. It seems natural to try one for the RSA’s Design team. This is actually week 13,433 for the RSA (which is a little intimidating). So what’s going on?

The Design team are working at desks in the ‘Oval Office’, which is half grey and half yellow – and only half oval. In plan, the room is rectangular with a curved wall at one end. We sit at the non-curved end, and our three windows look across John Adam Street to the second floor of the Adelphi building. Each window goes all the way from the floor almost to the ceiling. Moving anticlockwise…

Matt is wearing a blue T-shirt and peering intently into his screen. He’s creating a series of icons in Illustrator that the Connected Communities team can use to help people understand their social networks. This is a real information design problem; often the data that is collected through social network analyses is complicated and difficult to communicate. Matt’s icons will represent the type of relationship between two people, and how strong it is.

Emily has just sent off the text for the new Design & Society pamphlet – Nabeel Hamdi’s essay Architecture, Improvisation and the Energy of Place, accompanied by our Resourceful Architect call for Ideas and a review of the shortlist.  She’s also working furiously on the schemes of work for the Design Faculty of the new Creative Education Trust Academies in Rugeley – great opportunity to respond to the critiques of DT that arose in our What’s Wrong with DT? pamphlet and Ian McGimpsey’s lit review. Naturally beginning to fret over her ten minute presentation at the forthcoming RSA Trustees meeting on 14th September.

Sevra is typing away and drinking her beloved iced coffee. She has just launched this year’s Student Design Awards, and is working with design tutors across the country to help them integrate the briefs into their curricula. As with all the Design team’s projects, each brief asks designers to demonstrate how the insights and processes of design can increase the resourcefulness of people and communities.

Melanie is sitting very upright and working on 75 Days; a skills bank that connects Royal Designers’ expertise to projects led by RSA staff or Fellows that could benefit. She’s just connected Geoff Kirk, retired chief design aero-engineer from Rolls Royce with the RSA’s Academy. Geoff and the Academy staff are going to challenge students to design a toy based on a scientific principle, getting them to research, design and make a prototype.

Looking at my colleagues has made me realise I was slouching. I’m writing a new draft of a report that explores how ‘design thinking’ could benefit public services; specifically improve the experience of being in court. The report follows on from an RSA seminar earlier in the summer. Lots of projects have looked at the value of design in public services, but courtrooms are interesting because they have such strong heritage, and deal with issues like justice and truth.


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