My research is an examination of a contemporary field of design practice, which could loosely be described as design in the service of government. On a global scale, we are seeing a kind of design increasingly bound up in the shaping of government policies, strategies, services, innovation, change etc, with a new set of practices derived from design being gradually absorbed and normalised by non-designers within government and the public sector. This has been accompanied by a growing field of public discourse and debate, research, and practice in the form of businesses offering this kind of design service. The examination and critique of this field has as yet been fairly minimal, and much of the research that does exist is closely aligned with the promotional interests of industry.
The focus of my study is my experience over two and a bit years of practice in a design agency in London, working with clients across the public and third sector: a particular place at a particular moment in time - and a particular organisational culture and set of practices. Understanding design as a social practice (rather than, for example, simply a method), my intention in documenting and exploring this experience is to tease out the relationship between a certain political and governance context, and the related kinds of design practice that have arisen; and to develop ways of analysing contemporary social design/ design in government practice that is more critically aware of the conditions of production.
Funder: PhD supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s ‘Design Star’ Doctoral Training Programme