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October month notes

A presentation from Ben Holliday to the design team at our team development day

by Charles Reynolds-Talbot

Find out what the design team has been up to throughout October

This post is part of our ‘month notes’ series, where we’ll be sharing what’s been going on around our teams over the last month. You can read about what we did in September.

Co-design training day

First, in October, around 30 people from our teams had a special training day with co-design expert KA McKercher. We recognise that it’s important that we continue to shape and invest in developing our future design practice, so it’s great when we can invite in external expertise to support this. 

Co-design isn’t just about working with users or doing workshops. It’s a whole new way of designing things, where everyone is part of the process. And it’s important that we are making and designing, as without that, it’s just “co”.

We left the training day feeling positive and ready to use what we learned in our work purposefully to make a positive impact. You can read more about this and reflections from the team in our blog post —  Co-design training with KA McKercher.

Team day in London

October also saw our whole design team coming together in person for a team day we hosted at Newspeak House in London. We aim to do this a few times a year which always feels so beneficial and energising when we do. As a team of more than 100 people we’re geographically spread across the UK, working hybridly between home offices and regional hubs, such as Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh, to name a few. This means we have chance encounters with each other in hub spaces but it’s only at our team development days we all get together in real life. 

The (Almost) Whole Design Team Together In One Space For Our Team Development Day
The (almost) whole design team in one space for our team development day

As well as a fun activity to design the worst possible ice cream parlour experience, we learnt a lot from each other that day. Such as, working in Beta, service patterns, design systems, how to work as a team with our diverse skills and perspectives, and the progress of our new design academy.

We’re already looking forward to our next one in the new year. You can read more about the day from the perspective of Lead Content Designer, Dafydd Singleton — From ice cream parlours to service patterns

Service Design in Berlin

At the start of the month, our Head of Service Design, Jas, took to Berlin for the Service Design Global conference.

Service Design Global Conference

In Jas’s words…

It was good to see a range of speakers from different parts of the world sharing how they do service design. To come away from a conference is always refreshing. Having wider context, insights and expanding your knowledge with practical experiences. I was lucky to also catch up with friends and absorb the culture and sites of Berlin.

The two days were jam packed with a range of super interesting talks. Meeting inspiring people who are doing fantastic service design in difficult spaces. Seeing those experiences is always a joy.

Over the two days, I sat in on 19 talks. Reflecting on those, there’s three key themes. Many speakers shared their experience of doing service design. They shared their experiences, methods and tools. Some were sharing their viewpoint and theory based knowledge sharing. 

Three themes from the conference:

  1. Design with people with lived experiences

  2. Planet centred design

  3. Using AI

We’ll blog about these themes in more detail soon.

Design Systems Day

We were thrilled to have had an active participation in Design Systems Day, organised by the Government Digital Service.

Alexandra Deschamps Sonsino, Our New Design Director
Tash Willcocks on stage at Design Systems Day

Day one was in the charming city of Edinburgh. Our very own Tash Willcocks, Design Lead (Learning and Development), was invited as a keynote speaker, with a provocation for the audience — "Design systems don’t solve problems, people do".

Tash discussed the intricate relationship between people and design systems, exploring how individuals shape design systems just as profoundly as systems influence them. From user feedback, ownership, to the organisation’s context, Tash delved into the dynamic interplay that defines modern design practices.

Several members of our Interaction & Product Design team also attended the virtual day two. Gaining valuable knowledge and networking with fellow professionals in the field.

Design systems play a crucial role in ensuring consistency and accessibility in public services, and we are proud to be a part of this important conversation. 

We have a new Design Director

We have some exciting news to share! We welcomed Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino to the team as our new Design Director in October. As well as 10 years of consulting experience, Alex is an author and entrepreneur; former Head of Labs at Bulb Energy, London Project Lead at Library of Things and interim Chief Design Officer at the Design Council.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, our new Design Director
Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, our new Design Director

Alex will undoubtedly bring new energy and ideas to our growing team. We’re thrilled to have her on board, and look forward to Alex’s contributions in shaping the future of our design practice operations.  

That’s all for October — we’ll be back next month with another roundup. 

If you’re interested in the work we’re doing and would like to join our design team, take a look at our open roles.

Charles Reynolds-Talbot's avatar

Charles Reynolds-Talbot

Head of Interaction Design

Contact Charles

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