Designing with and for children

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We’re joining in with the International Association of Designers (IAoD) to celebrate World Design Days  (12th - 15th April). The theme for Day 2 is ‘Creativity, Inspiration and Imagination’ with a focus on designing with and for children.

Driving creativity through insight, inspiration and imagination

Creativity is about generating new responses to problems or challenges, to think of something in a different or unusual way, or approach things from a different perspective. Creativity is not innate. It can be inspired, developed and encouraged given the right stimulus and environment.

We’ve learnt this by working with different organisations to help them drive creativity in what they do and how they do it, and by helping them see the value of applying a creative design process to defining new solutions and solving business challenges.

Service Design is a methodology, a set of tools and a mindset for creatively designing improved services and customer experiences

Within the projects we run, and through our ways of working, we bring some essential components to the surface that drive creative thought and innovation.

First and foremost is about establishing and sustaining the right mindset within the project and team: curiosity, open-mindedness, building not judging and trusting the process are key.

Then there is insight. Discovering remarkable realisations about what is happening that help to reframe the problem. One of the most effective ways of doing this is for clients to participate in customer research alongside designers, so that insights are revealed together and passionately advocated as the project progresses.

Next comes inspiration and this is injected by helping people believe things are possible by presenting cutting-edge examples from leaders in other sectors and experience benchmarks that address the insights revealed by the research. In our engagements, these are shown through inspiration reports and used as stimulus in highly generative concepting workshops.

Designing with and for children

We’ve worked with brands like Walker Technology College, Rail Delivery Group, Samsung, Nokia and BBC Weather to design innovative ways of engaging and delivering better services for children and of course, their parents and carers.

Some of these projects involved conducting research, running workshops and exercises, and evaluating ideas with children, to include them in the co-creation process. What would be the facilities and features of an ideal future school? How could we make this digital tool more intuitive and fun to use? How could we better design software and content to provide more immersive and inspiring education?

Sometimes the ideas that come from kids' minds seem a bit far-fetched, but they provide a rich source of inspiration and creativity that has fuelled some remarkable conceptual solutions. These have been taken on board and realised in the architecture, digital products, service features and staff behaviours of some fantastic services and experiences that meet the needs and desires of children, parents and carers, and the organisations that provide them.

Perhaps the most crucial ingredient of creative thought and innovation is co-creation

We passionately believe that for solutions to take root and grow, they need to feel homegrown. Sometimes they genuinely are, but often they are seeded, nurtured and developed by designers.

What limits innovation in a business or project is not creativity, but the ability of the organisation to spot, have faith and commitment towards the innovative ideas. They need to feel passionate about them, which is why they need to feel invested and engaged in the process.

Engine’s process has been designed and refined to deliver co-created innovation. Research, strategy development, concept development, journey design and evaluation are all creative and collaborative but underpinned with tried and tested tools and proven methods.

Good design matters and the World Design Days celebration is a valuable opportunity to highlight the role of design in the world.

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