Design and Public Services: from soft furnishings to hard disciplines

RSA Event


RSA House, London

  • Creativity
  • Design
  • Public services

London Borough of Lewisham chief executive Barry Quirk will discuss how he has used design as a tool in making public services better, quicker and cheaper.


Barry Quirk is awarded the 2013 RSA Bicentenary Medal for applying design to great effect in public services. Poorly designed public services waste taxpayers money. They also can entangle those who use them and those who provide them in a knot of inefficiency and dependency. The relationship between the state and citizen is changing. The cost of many public services needs to be dramatically reduced. More "design thinking" is required to re-imagine public services and to help public institutions serve society better.

Design offers a fresh perspective on how services could change; and it offers some hard disciplines about how to change them. In his presentation, Barry Quirk will outline how great design can help make public services better, quicker and cheaper.

Speaker: Barry Quirk CBE, chief executive, London Borough of Lewisham.

Nat Hunter, co-director of Design, RSA will introduce the event and present the medal. 

Discussion chaired by Mat Hunter, chief design officer, Design Council.

The RSA Bicentenary Medal was instituted in 1954 to commemorate the founding of the RSA over two hundred years earlier, and has been awarded annually to a variety of individuals for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of design in industry and society. In the RSA’s new account of design, that contribution is interpreted as the most effective use of design to increase the resourcefulness of people and communities.


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