Angela Fernandez Orviz

Communicating design-led innovation approaches to public sector audiences

In the UK, Public Sector narratives have started to resonate with contemporary design discourses as they have begun to address citizen participation or responsiveness and integration of services. But popular conceptions and expectations of design do not recognise contemporary design approaches as a legitimate strategy and methodology for public sector innovation. Angela’s research argues that for design-led approaches to seize the opportunity of contributing to this transitioning public sector, the discipline needs to be more precise in its discourse;  exploring how the articulation of design’s role, contribution and methods can be constructed on the existing knowledge of the audience, in relation to dominant percpetions and other fields of expertise.  

In essence, the empirical research has focused on exploring how design is communicated by designers and perceived and comprehended by public sector professionals. This includes exploratory cases through practice within the Scottish Government and an in-depth study of the Design Leadership Training Programme provided by the Design Council to public sector organisations, as well as an analysis of design communication strategies on behalf of design consultancy and training agencies. The reflexive inquiry has aimed to de-construct these design communications in relation to dominant design cultures and discourses and intertwined socio-political values.  

Through exploratory visual storytelling, dialectic and analytical layers of the research contrast the mental models and social constructs on which both public servants and designers build their understandings of design, exploring overlaps and tensions between perspectives. This has revealed some of the assumptions on which designers build their design discourse and that do not communicate effectively to this particular audience.  

This research contributes to ongoing debates on the articulation of contemporary design approaches as well as provides practical insights useful for developing more appropriate discourses. Methodologically it also brings another perspective on how design practice can be used in the service of research.  

Primary Supervisor: Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam, Dr. Lynn-Sayers McHattie , Dr Emma Murphy.

Contact: [email protected]