‘Thinking object’ – a puzzle for exploration and reflection – MAGIC Project 2016-2017


University of Exeter, Professor Katrina Brown and Dr Tara Quinn, designed in collaboration with Dr Lucy Hubble-Rose


Product design: design strategy, product development, project management


Produce a ‘thinking object’ as a playful tool in response to findings from the Creative Data designed Hi-VIS workshop at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, in Cornwall, UK. In the bespoke workshop, designed and delivered by me and Lucy Hubble-Rose in October 2015, risk decision-makers mined their experience to find new opportunities and ways of working in relation to their personal and professional understandings of risk and vulnerability.


With the MAGIC Pathfinder we wanted to visualise and make tangible an under-discussed topic in organisations, which is that of 2nd order risks in emergency decision-making – that is to say, the inter-personal dimensions of risk scenarios, which often go unexamined in relation to the 1st order risk, which is the serious incident such as coastal flooding, an oil spill, or a public transport incident. Each hexagon of the pathfinder is dedicated to one aspect of 2nd order risks and the puzzle is designed to prompt discussion and reflection around the challenges people are facing in these areas.


This thinking object – The MAGIC Pathfinder – is designed to promote reflection and encourage professional development. It can be used individually or in a group. The design of the puzzle enables exploration of specific challenges, while also assisting the evaluation of risk decision-making practices as a whole. Playing with a physical 3D object like this can help you process thoughts in new ways and spark fresh ideas.

The puzzle is made from oak, using digital manufacturing technologies such as a CNC Router, which cut out the hexagons and made the notches in the side of them, and laser etching, which burns the lines and text into the surfaces.




The Additive Toolbox, July- November 2014


Forum for the Future (UK) / Plan C (Belgium)


Production design: communication design, print design, packaging design, copywriting


Develop a toolkit that will help the additive manufacturing industry (3D Printing) design with purpose while making a positive contribution to the world. The toolkit will be given to designers, makers and manufacturers who enter Plan C’s Additive Challenge – a design competition, using additive manufacturing, for products and services that serve both people and planet.


I collaborated with fellow designer Joana Casaca Lemos on this project. We were commissioned by Forum for the Future who were in turn advising Plan C on their iMade project which looked at the sustainability issues with the additive manufacturing industry – which they termed the third industrial revolution. Joana and I worked together to create the overall form and identity of the Additive Toolbox, with Joana executing the graphic elements while I focused on the copywriting and messaging.


The Additive Toolbox included a poster, a set of postcards and a worksheet. These tools outline 6 making principles and 6 maker communities to guide designers, makers and manufacturers through the considerations of materials, production methods and life cycle for their products. The toolbox prototype was produced by Plan C in Belgium and sent out to all entrants to the Additive Challenge to help them consider the social and environmental issues related to their designs. The first finalist in the competition will be revealed in October 2015. Updates are available on the project website.


Creative Data goes to The House of Commons



Taking The Collett School History Project to the House of Commons has been the highlight of the year so far. Lucy and I have come to the end of working with this wonderful special needs school in Hemel Hempstead. After a year of storytelling to celebrate their 50th Anniversary, we succeeded in our ultimate goal for the project which was to take it to Westminster to show Ministers and MPs the amazing stories of the school.

The school’s local MP, Mike Penning, who arranged for the exhibition to take place in Parliament, explained why he wanted to bring the exhibition to Speaker’s Green:

“The Collett School is a very special school and has a very special place in my heart. I visit as often as I can and I run my annual Christmas card competition with the children of the school. “This is a great opportunity for Ministers and MPs to hear first-hand the untold stories of the pupils of this great school. “This is the first time ever that an exhibition of this nature has been held on Speaker’s Green and it was a wonderful experience for the children and a great opportunity for my Parliamentary colleagues to learn more about special needs education and the experiences of those who have left the school and the difference it has made to their lives.”

Stephen Hoult-Allen, Head Teacher of The Collett School was thrilled that the school was offered this opportunity:

“It was fantastic for our pupils, past and present, to share our story with so many MPs at the exhibition of our oral histories project at Parliament. Our pupils were fantastic ambassadors for the school and people with learning difficulties, taking pride in their achievements, hopes and aspirations for contributing to our mainstream world.”

We had over 30 MPs show up on the day, Wednesday 24th June, and even Boris Johnson made an appearance. We were delighted by the positive response the exhibition received. You can read about what the MPs thought over on the Creative Data site.


Speaking about Data Vis at Future Cities Catapult


Having successfully produced a series of case studies about design in innovation for the KTN’s Design SIG earlier in the year, I was commissioned to create a report about Design & Data Visualisation for the KTN’s members. This report was based on an event that I spoke at in October 2013 at NESTA.

For the launch of the report I wrote about the publication for the KTN site and I was also invited to speak, on May 6th, at the Future Cities Catapult at a Cross-Catapult Design Group Meeting which was used for sharing new ideas across industry.

I spoke about how the report is an introduction to the crucial role of design in data visualisation and all the ways it can be used to better communicate information in this digital age. I highlighted a few of the contemporary data visualisation practitioners who are showcased in the report.

By presenting case studies of their work the Design SIG aims to stimulate thinking on how design and data visualisation can support innovation and deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits.

Creating the Additive Toolbox


Earlier this year Belgian company Plan C launched The Additive Toolbox to accompany The Additive Challenge, inviting the 3d printing industry to address a better future for people and planet in their creations.

I had a great experience designing the Toolbox with talented fellow designer Joana Casaca Lemos. We were commissioned by Forum for the Future who in turn were working with Plan C on the iMade project, which looks at additive manufacturing as the third industrial revolution. I just got my Additive Toolbox prototype in the post and I’m so delighted with how it all turned out.

Joana and I worked together to create the identity, graphics and physical form of the toolbox, including a poster, a set of postcards and a worksheet. These tools outline 6 making principles and 6 maker communities to guide designers, makers and manufacturers through the considerations of materials, production methods and life cycle for their products.

The toolbox was given out to anyone who entered the Additive Challenge. The latest news about the challengers in the competition can be found on the project site. As a designer it’s a pretty great to be asked to create a tool to help other designers and I’m excited to see who the finalists are in this competition.




The Healthy Eating Exploratorium, Kew Gardens


Your Future London


Interactive set design for a one-day workshop at Kew Gardens


Enable the Your Future client to explore ideas about healthy eating through an immersive one-day workshop.


Collaborate with client to understand the subject of their workshop. Design concept and manage production of interactive elements to facilitate the workshop activities during the day. Set up and take down installation on the day.


In the first room a Family Kitchen environment was created where the workshop group could gather together for conversation, refreshments breaks and end-of-day presentations.

In the second room a Library Lab space was created where the attendees could gather to work in their breakout groups. Each team was given a large table, a small library of books, images and ingredients, and a huge enlarged version of the sketchbook portfolio they had been working in during their field trip the day before.

The enlarged portfolios could be used for brainstorming during the day and for their group presentations at the end of the workshop.

Attendees were impressed by the theming of the spaces in the small cottage on the edge of Kew Gardens. The atmosphere created by our designs greatly enhanced their immersion into the workshop content.

Speaking at Design Junction 2014


I was kindly invited to speak about my work in September by Aidan Walker, curator of the Design Junction seminars. It’s always fun, if nerve wracking, to be asked to speak about what I’m doing with design storytelling and particularly with Creative Data.

I was especially pleased to be speaking at a mainstream London Design Festival event such as Design Junction, rather than a sustainability side show. I think it’s good news that curators like Aidan are programming a diverse range of speakers that use environmental design at the core of their work.

I was on stage alongside the NYC design firm UHURU who make beautiful furniture and interiors from sustainably sources materials. I think our different approaches contrasted nicely on the common theme of social and environmental awareness.

Judging the first D&AD New Blood White Pencil Award


Back in May, I was super honoured to be part of the first D&AD New Blood White Pencil jury, alongside Tom Farrand of Swarm, Warren Beeby of Futerra,Tori Flower of We Are What We Do, Gerry Human of Ogilvy & Mather.

We saw some amazing entries, but picked a real corker of a winner. The Ice Cream for Change campaign  – a funny, entertaining, meaningful concept to promote gay rights in Russia for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

On July 3rd I went to the New Blood Awards ceremony and got to meet the amazing women creatives behind the winning entry – Francesca Van Haverbeke, Anne-Grit Maier, Daria Rustambekova from the Miami Ad School in Hamburg.


‘Why is Science Beautiful?’ workshop for the Met Office & British Library


Lucy Rose and I, in the guise of our Creative Data partnership, had great fun designing and hosting the ‘Why Is Science Beautiful?’ workshop at the British Library this week. We created the event for the Met Office in the context of the ‘Beautiful Science’ exhibition, currently on show in the library.

This experimental one-day workshop on Monday 12th May was co-hosted by the British Library, the Met Office and Creative Data. The event invited attendees (15 Met Office scientists and 15 selected creatives) to take an exploratory journey into the creative potential of data and scientific practice.

Here’s the Storify of the event, which collates all the social media captures of the day.


Silent Cards, or how to have that awkward conversation

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 19.19.37

In February, I attended a Swarm for D&AD‘s White Pencil initiative called ‘Break The Silence’. We were asked to come up with creative ways to engage the advertising industry on the subject of climate change.

These ‘Silent Cards’, are a customised Artefact deck with facts and figures about climate change that any strategist, planner, or creative could use in client meetings, if only they could find the courage to do so. Until then, they’ll just be useful for flicking through in those quiet moments of reflection when you’re really wondering what you can possibly do to help the situation.

The illustration above and text below were exhibited this week with other Break The Silence proposals at the D&AD Awards judging event at Olympia Exhibition Centre.

You know that conversation? Yeah, the one you keep having with yourself, but no one else. You’re not having it with your friends, or with your boss, and especially not with your clients. It’s a niggling voice in your head that keeps asking inconvenient questions. Is this the best way forward? Is this really what we need right now? What kind of impact is this having? Imagine having prompter cards for that awkward conversation. With the facts at your fingers tips would you raise your voice on climate change? Probably not, right? But you flick through the deck furtively, anyway, just out of curiosity. You’ll likely never use them, but then again… one day, you might just feel compelled to ask an awkward question out loud.