Design for Next: European Academy for Design Conference 2017 by DHW Lab

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One of our designers at the DHW Lab, Eden Short recently ventured to Rome to present her masters wayfinding work at Design for Next, the bi-annual European Academy for Design conference. This was a huge gathering with approximately 500 presentations over 3 days, with 9 tracks tackling different areas of design. The aim of the event was to be open, inclusive and international. It certainly achieved this, with presenters from around the globe and a mix of emerging and established academics. Seeing the design discipline on such an international scale was incredible, and highlighted that we are all facing similar complexities and challenges in the health and design space. There was a real sense of collaboration and community as people shared stories and strategies of what they had learnt through new projects and collaborations, as well as calls for action from education and industry. 

Eden presented in the ‘Design for Next Healthcare’ track, discussing how we might demonstrate future opportunities of wayfinding in healthcare, using a children’s outpatient department to prototype and test solutions. 

Yours. by DHW Lab

A group of third year product design students recently undertook a project investigating the experience of waiting at an oncology clinic.

Take a look at the work of Chelsea Pratt who took a unique and thoughtful approach to this design brief. Learn about it on her blog.

Healing Environments Exhibition by DHW Lab

The DHW Lab set up its first exhibition outside the lab, in the hospital waiting area on Level 5. Focusing on the privacy booth developed by the lab, we set up a display and feedback table to ask patients, staff and visitors to take a moment to tell us what they thought about, not only the privacy booth, but what a Healing Environment could be for them in the hospital.

The exhibition was an experiment in both presenting the lab’s work to a broader audience and as a way to gather feedback from the members of the public.

After lots of effort and excitement putting the display together, it was great to see the level of interest generated from a range of patients, staff and visitors. Responses were thoughtful and interesting, and very positive on the whole from those we talked to about the privacy booth and the Lab’s aspirational Level 8 Whanau space design.

The feedback we received through the exhibition has helped the Lab and the team working on the privacy booth validate its purpose and need.

Holding an exhibition in a public space in the hospital proved a great way to put one of the Lab’s ideas out there and get the public’s response. It was also a novel learning experience for the Lab in continuing to create opportunities for others in the hospital to be involved with the projects we do.

Check out the animation below for the full story of the exhibition.

Designing for the ageing brain_ Symposium summary by DHW Lab

The Designing for the Ageing Brain symposium held in collaboration with Centre for Person Centred Research (CPRC) and Lab4Living was an exciting initiative that brought together both international and local experts to share their work and discuss the challenges and opportunities for developing design-led solutions to promote well-being for people living with dementia and other ageing-related neurological conditions.

Through a series of expert talks and workshops, the symposium explored how good design can be implemented in hospital environments, healthcare services and community-focused interventions to help those living with cognitive impairment to experience better well-being.

Along with the DHW Lab and CPCR the key note speakers at the symposium were Dr Claire Craig and Prof Paul Chamberlain from Lab4Living, Sheffield Hallam University. This was a great opportunity to learn about the research and approaches being taken in the Northern Hemisphere toward dementia and other ageing-related conditions.  

The symposium covered three key themes:

·      Engaging people in co-design methods

·      Creative methods

·      Space and place

Here is a quick summary of our expert talks in case you weren’t able to make it on the day!

In his “ Engagingaging” presentation, Prof Paul Chamberlain talked about how we could go about designing products, services and environments to improve the quality of life and well-being for individuals.  We learnt how important it is to adapt the home environment to accommodate people as they go through age-related changes and challenges both physically and mentally.

Our very own Guy Collier and Nick Hayes’ presentation on designing for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) explored the strategies, supports, and resources older people use to ‘live well’ within the context of possible cognitive decline. Nick and Guy are currently working on creating an interactive online resource through co-design to help people with MCI as well as their whānau.

In her talk ‘The Whare Aroha Care transition study: A collaboration between industry and academia’ Kay Shannon described how industry meets research. This was a great real world example of how research impacted the conceptualisation of  Whare Aroha Care - a dementia-friendly care facility in Rotorua modelled on the acclaimed Dutch De Hogeweyk Dementia Village and designed to  look like a small New Zealand town that would provide a sense of independence in a home-like environment for its residents.

In “Re-designing dementia” Claire presented a vast body of research into new approaches to involve people living with dementia in the design of supported self-management, and how this helps enable fuller engagement with them and their communities and help all to contribute to more meaningful wellbeing.  

Richard Worrall and Justin Kennedy-Good “Community and commerce: Promoting universal design in hospital shared spaces.  Both Justin and Richard have been working on the public spaces and healing environments programme at Auckland City Hospital. Their presentation focused on the ongoing implications of design decisions when creating spaces, and how to make these better for people with cognitive impairment, to ultimately benefit all users of a space. The Auckland City Hospital is undergoing refurbishing of the retail area on level 5 of the hospital. This was a real-life example demonstrating how Auckland DHB  has applied design processes and methods to make the space more accessible for its users.

Rebecca Jury explored what everyone ought to know to design for people affected by dementia. While co-design is designing ‘with’ people,  not ‘for’ people, this is not always straightforward when working with complex user groups, including those with advanced cognitive impairments.  Her talk highlighted many pitfalls in the co-design process. However, a key theme was how listen carefully to people; they want to be heard and valued.

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Kate O’Connor’s talk on " Ethics for the ageing brain" challenged conventional thinking on research and health. “Health is designed by treatment, not by research”. Kate as Executive Manager of the ethics committee at AUT is constantly faced with difficult questions when research is needing ethics approval. She left us questioning the balance between research and consent and what is the right thing to when thinking of involving vulnerable individuals in research. Design research may be viewed within different ethical frameworks and these influence what might be ethical and moral to do. This can be made more complex when ethical research and design research are continually evolving as disciplines.  However,  design research is fundamentally important to improve the everyday situations of people living with dementia, but this should not compromise those who may be vulnerable as research participants.

Lastly, Hinemoa Elder began with a beautiful waiata, before exploring how understanding culture is crucial to the designing for the ageing brain. Design is not for a single person, but the whole whānau - how do designers consider language, cultural practices, symbols, cues and roles along with spiritual connections.  "He waiata, he akoranga. There is more to a song than it’s tune and actions".

Over 100 people attended the symposium.  They came from many diverse disciplines/specialisations, including architects, designers, clinicians, occupational therapists, music therapists, service improvement specialists, researchers and academics. It was a great way to share stories and explore how we might work together to explore new opportunities to develop design-led solutions to support people as they age.


Thank you to all the presenters on the day and also to everyone for attending! We can’t wait for our next symposium. Watch this space!

Au revoir, Josh! by DHW Lab

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly two and half years since I first started at the DHW Lab. To begin with, I would like to say that it has been some of the best years of my life. It’s a privilege working alongside the other members of the DHW Lab design team. They are all incredibly talented, passionate and friendly and I can’t thank you enough for their kindness to me over the years. And Steve, let’s not forget, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it!

In conjunction with my masters, my time at the Lab has been a huge learning experience. I have learnt a lot about the complexities of the hospital and challenges of practicing design in a large, well established organisation. Shifting people's mindset is never easy, but now, more than ever, I believe it’s worth it. Each project, actualised or non-actualised, is a step towards helping those involved in healthcare to see the importance and value of human-centred design.

Working with designers of other disciplines has also helped me to develop my design process and the way I work best as a designer. Particular highlights include working with Eden AKA ‘Illustrator & Wayfinding Sensei’ on the Rosella wayfinding project, working with Nick AKA ‘UX/UI & Coffee Sensei’ on the Script app and working alongside Reid AKA ‘Product & Life Sensei’ on the privacy booth.

Probably most importantly, the Lab has made me realise that this is the type of work I want to be doing, at least in the near future. I find it both morally and creatively fulfilling. The decision to leave the Lab was therefore not an easy one. It’s tough saying goodbye to my friends and family here in New Zealand. But, I hope that I can continue to find a similar sense of purpose in Toronto at Healthcare Human Factors, and potentially bring some of my learnings back with me. It will be a new adventure for my wife and I and one that I hope to share with you all when we get back.

To finish I thought it might be nice to list some of my key personal takeaways from the Lab. They are as follows:

  • Workspace is crucial. Make it cool, make it open plan, make it yours. It makes you want to come to work and do great work!

  • Hang out, talk to and ask for advice from your colleagues. If you want a true anti-hierarchical working environment you need to be mates! There is so much to learn from just chatting to one another.

  • Design success is measured completely differently to those in healthcare. Don’t let resistance to an idea get you down. Push-back is part of the job description, so learn to be patient and content with knowing you have tried, and continue to try, your best.

Learn to tell and ‘show’ non-designers what you do, how you do it and why it’s important. A huge part of this is making, even at the very beginning of a project. A shared understanding helps to better connect design problems with design solutions and enables non-designers to contribute more constructively to the design process.

Off Grid 17 by DHW Lab

A couple of members of the team Lauren and Eden, attended Off Grid 17 this week, an experience design conference in Wellington that focused on the intersection of communication design and the built environment. Framed as a 'non-conference conference', there was a focus on experiencing Wellington as a city, participating and connecting with fellow attendees, and listening to what local and international practitioners are achieving in the field. 

 Laurie Foon discussing Wellington City and creating communities

 Laurie Foon discussing Wellington City and creating communities

Outside Seashore Cabaret cafe, lunch talk by Matt Wilson (owner) about culture and atmosphere in public space

Outside Seashore Cabaret cafe, lunch talk by Matt Wilson (owner) about culture and atmosphere in public space

The conference began as an experiential journey which bought people from cities around the world, with stop overs in Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Christchurch. Starting in Auckland, the team went to Open Studio at Alt Group where the hosts showcased their work.

As part of the conference we were encouraged to take an experiential journey to Wellington, we achieved this but didn't exactly plan it (Wellington fog and diverted flights, need I say more). Highlights included excellent coffee, inspiring local talent, and great key note speakers. The diversity amongst disciplines was refreshing, key themes were inclusivity, being welcoming and creating conversations. "We are all designers. Stop separating and start collaborating for true authentic connection" – Andrew Balster, Archeworks. Morag Myerscough reminded us of the importance of play in a huge range of work – from installations in Mexico and exhibition design, to hospital wards in Sheffield, and she discussed the eternal love triangle of designer, maker, user. 

A Signage Strategy for Wellington talk by Strategy Wellington

A Signage Strategy for Wellington talk by Strategy Wellington

Top quote:

"As designers we have the ethical imperative [to invent new sustainable ways of living]. As citizens, we have the ethical imperative to make our governments develop and embrace this new way of being in the world. As individuals we have the ethical imperative to everything we can do to contribute to this way of working, with the greatest possible urgency to overcome the challenges that we face! — Bruce Mau, Now we can do anything, what will we do?"

— Andrew Balster, Archeworks



Join us for a day exploring how creative design approaches can contribute to ageing well.


WHEN 17 February 2017

WHERE DHW Lab at the Auckland City Hospital


Detailed programme is available here.


9:00 AM    — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —  Arrival  — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

9:10 AM    Mihi Whakatau and Kaumatua opening address — Andrew Old

9:30 AM    Engagingaging — Paul Chamberlain

9:55 AM    Designing for mild cognitive Impairment — Guy Collier & Nick Hayes

10:20 AM    The Whare Aroha Care transition study: A collaboration between industry and academia. — Kay Shannon

10:45 AM    Re-designing dementia: involving people living with dementia in the design of supported self-management — Claire Craig

11:10 AM    — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —  Morning Tea  — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — 

11:30 AM    Community and commerce: Promoting universal design in hospital shared spaces — Richard Worrall & Justin Kennedy-Good

11:55 AM    What everyone ought to know to design for people affected by dementia — Rebecca Jury

12:20 PM    Researching with persons who cannot give consent: challenges in the NZ legislative and ethics environment — Kate O’Connor

12:45 PM    He waiata, he akoranga — There is more to a song than it’s tune and actions — Hinemoa Elder

1:10 PM       — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —  Lunch  — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — 

2:00 PM     Discussion / Workshop — Topics may include creative methods, ethics and co-design

3:30 PM     Closing

4:00 PM     — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —  End  — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —