Special Interview: Rachel Cooper

1. The theme of this year's Seoul Design International Forum is 'Re-connect: Design as a value creator'. What do you think the city government should do to improve the value in the cities and in the lives of their citizen through design? And for that, how should the city's design organization be structured? I believe that organizational structure is one of the most important parts of maximizing the value creation of any organization. When organizing the city government's workforce, how can the design organization be structured to maximize the value of design? Also, what factors should be considered?

When thinking about Design as a resource for the city, it is important to understand the attributes of Design. Thinking about the Design process and the ability to translate numerous interdependencies into a tangible visions, is very much the value of Design. Many government organisations are looking to Design as a way of creating value, buy helping policy makers rethink policy, around issues such as net zero, health and wellbeing. Design organisations within government should be organised in such a way that they are able to synthsise science social, science and cultural insights, to help policy makers, and citizens co-imagine alternative furture, imagine the implications, benefits of policy and service design. This means Designers at the heart of government in policy labs, insight and foresight units.

In terms of creating value one of the areas that design needs to engage with is the notion of value… how does new policy, new services, new urban design contributribute to environmental value and social value. Much work has been undertaken on establishing the natural capital value of enhanceing environments through policy making and design, much less has been done on how to establish social value through Design and quantify and evaluate it. This is the much more complicated area where Design needs to establish a strength.

2. If there is an important case as an example of efforts made by city governments or public institutions to create social value, please introduce it. It may be difficult to answer because there are so many examples, but I would appreciate it if you could introduce an example of efforts to improve social value carried out in other cities or institutions that you would like to introduce to Seoul.

I attach a useful reference here. https://www.ukgbc.org/ukgbc-work/delivering-social-value-measurement/

There is also the Social Value Portal. http://socialvalueportal.com/national-toms/

3. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are living through challenging time. How can design strive for social innovation or improvement of public life in the post-COVID era? Or, we would be grateful if you could tell us how the role of design in the past and the role of design in the future will be different in response to climate change and various social and technological changes.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented changes to our lives during 2020 and will continue to do so in the future. Design has a key role to play in not only creating products to ensure safety from the pandemic, but also in the creation of complex systems, new technologies and new physical environments that enable us to carry out our lives and protect populations in the future. Our research at Lancaster identified four key phases of the pandemic that we have used to categorise design contributions in terms of their maturity, to look backwards, reflect upon what we have experienced collectively, but also forwards in terms of where we go from here; Reaction, designers immediately reacted and enabled the production of life saving technologies from face masks toventilators ; Adaptation, designers helped in the way we adapted out lives, creating new ways of adapting spaces, enabling mobility through towns and cities; Recovery; Resilience.  We are now in recovery and resilience and designers can engage with a new discourse not just around back to normal but designing beyond normal, to build out social, environmental and economic resilience.

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