Design Council UK + Systemic Design + Design in Government with Cat Drew — DT101 E78


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Cat Drew is the chief design officer at the Design Council. We talk about the role and work of Design Council, systemic design, and the shifting role of design and government and communities.

Listen in to learn more about:

  • Design Council’s work
  • The frameworks Design Council has developed
  • The Design Economy
  • How designers can learn from non-designers who are practicing design out in their local communities
  • Asset-based design
  • Speculative design
  • Amble Harbour, a small fishing village in the UK

Our Guest’s Bio

Cat Drew is the Chief Design Officer at the Design Council where she brings together architecture and the built environment, public sector design and business innovation to support people in living healthier, happier and safer lives. Previously, Cat has held leadership positions at FutureGov and Uscreates, was a co-founder of the UK government’s Policy Lab, and combines 10 years of experience in government with an MA in Graphic Design. She speaks widely about the value of design and co-presents BBC Radio 4 The Fix. She is a member of The Point People.

Show Highlights

[01:04] Cat’s path from civil servant to designer.

[01:38] Her frustration while working for the government.

[02:39] Helping to co-found the Policy Lab and discovering design.

[05:15] Her work at Design Council.

[06:25] The biggest internal development happening at Design Council right now.

[08:29] One example of the collaborative aspect of the Design Council’s work.

[10:28] The Design Council’s double diamond framework.

[11:37] The Framework for Innovation builds on the double diamond and adds in culture change.

[12:21] The complex challenges design is being asked to solve.

[13:00] The new Systemic Design framework the Design Council developed to help with these challenges.

[16:02] Cat talks about Design Council’s role with regard to people using this new framework.

[17:40] Design “translation” as a core role of the Design Council.

[18:09] The ways in which language changes meanings in different communities.

[19:46] Different groups and individuals see and experience a system very differently.

[20:55] The social dreaming concept.

[21:57] Cat talks about some of Design Council’s research and projects.

[22:31] The Design Economy.

[24:31] Design Difference, a project born out of COVID-19 and the pandemic.

[27:10] Learning from non-designers who are out there doing design work in their communities.

[29:35] Asset-based design starts from what’s strong instead of what’s wrong.

[31:22] Cat talks about where design is heading.

[31:50] Designers working to deliberately change and redesign systems.

[33:50] Three themes Design Council is seeing in design now.

[35:52] Encouraging more people to experiment and play with design in the real world.

[38:11] Ways to use and support the work Design Council is doing.

[39:08] The importance of speculative design in supporting creativity.

[39:58] Policy Lab’s The Future of Aging project.

[41:54] Resources Cat recommends for those interested in design.

[43:40] Cat answers the question, “what’s your best story about design?” with a story about Amble Harbour, a fishing village in the UK.


Cat on Twitter

Cat on LinkedIn

Cat on Medium

Design Council UK

BBC Radio 4: The Fix

Interview with Cat at UX Connections

Interview with Cat at Design Week

Speculative Design

Design: Into the Ether

TEDxWhitehall: Making government better, through data and design

Book Recommendation: Why Materials Matter: Responsible Design for a Better World, by Seetal Solanki and Liz Corbin

Rooted By Design

Natasha Trotman

Other Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Design Thinking for the Public Sector + Building and Training Design Thinking Teams with Stephanie Wade — DT101 E14

Teaching Yourself Design Thinking + Innovating in Government with Amy J. Wilson — DT101 E19

Democracy as a Design Problem with Whitney Quesenbery — DT101 E68

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