Introducing the Public Collaboration Lab Exhibition

We were delighted to install the Introduction to the Public Collaboration Lab exhibition at the London Borough of Camden (LBC) offices in 5 Pancras Square at the end of last month. On Thursday 25th February we had an official launch, with members of the PCL team from both UAL and LBC available to speak about the work so far. The feedback has been very positive and we are looking forward to taking the exhibition to other venues at a later date.

What is Next? Creative engagement and consultation workshop

On 12th February the Public Collaboration Lab – a one-year AHRC funded research partnership between London Borough of Camden and University of the Arts London, Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab (UAL DESIS Lab – held a workshop exploring the value of creative engagement and consultation.
The workshop gathered 60 participants including local government officers from across the country (Lancashire, East Anglia, Cambridgeshire, Greater London) and design academics to explore how universities and Councils can work together to carry out local engagement in more creative and possibly more inclusive ways by using participatory design approaches; and provide opportunities for collaboration.

The afternoon kicked off with a visit to the Public Collaboration Lab exhibition at Central Saint Martins, and continued across the canal at Camden Council offices, with a warm welcome by Rachel Stopard (Deputy Chief Executive Transformation & Partnerships at London Borough of Camden).

The workshop set off with an introduction of the Public Collaboration Lab project by Chris Widgery (Strategic Lead for Innovation, Inclusion and Digital at LBC) and Adam Thorpe (Professor in Socially Responsive Design at Central Saint Martins, and principal investigator of the Public Collaboration Lab project).

The Consultation Institute and Matthew Upton (Strategic Lead for Engagement and Consultation at Camden) shared a review of the legislative landscape and trends in engagement and consultation at national and local scales.
We then moved on to a hands-on diagnostic exercise to map out different decision-making journeys. For the exercise, representatives from local governments and academia teamed up to capture decision-making journeys and identify opportunities for participatory design approaches.

We captured decision-making journeys concerned with areas as diverse as planning and the built environment, service commission or library services. We identified common trends, like early engagement, and common challenges such as the difficulty to engage beyond usual suspects, or find alternatives to the consultation and dark room analysis treadmill.
Once opportunities were identified, the workshop continued on to showcase the latest research in participatory design approaches to engagement and creative consultation. We heard three different approaches form:
Gemma Coupe (Lancaster University) presented Beyond the Castle and Leapfrog’s consultation tools;
Dr. Theodore Zamenopoulos and Dr. Katerina Alexiou (The Open University) presented community-led design approaches to coproduction;
Prof. Adam Thorpe (University of the Arts London) and Jayne Brown (London Borough of Camden) shared their experiences of the Future Libraries creative consultation project.
We wrapped up the afternoon with a glass of wine, discussing the values and challenges around creative consultation, and thinking ‘what is next?’
The Public Collaboration Lab will circulate a workshop report on the value of creative engagement and consultation shortly, based on the Public Collaboration Lab experience and participants insights using the decision-making journey tool.
We would like to keep the conversation going and foster opportunities for collaboration!
We have set a mailing list to start a Special Interest Group around Creative Engagement and Consultation. Subscribe to join the conversation!
What would you like to happen next? Should we send out a box and cross-pollinate? Did you miss the workshop and would like to know more?

Empathy and Employment

Inspired by the expectation that empathy between societal actors may foster greater collaboration and contribute to the conditions for social innovation, the Empathy and Employment project explored how the design of objects can facilitate interactions that foster empathy in the context of employment.

With the assistance of BA Product Design students from Central Saint Martins, the project brought together employers and residents in the rapidly developing, but relatively deprived, Somers Town area of London. Through a collaborative process, students designed objects and interactions which enabled employers and residents to creatively communicate a wide spectrum of emotions about their needs, challenges and aspirations related to job seeking and recruitment, and to understand and empathise with each other’s experiences and perspectives.

The Creative Engagement and Consultation Workshop

The Creative Engagement and Consultation Workshop will be held on the 12th February 2016 at the offices of Camden Council, 5 St Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG.
The workshop will gather local government officers, design academics and colleagues from The Consultation Institute to explore how universities and Councils can work together to carry out local engagement in more creative and possibly more inclusive ways by using a participatory design approach. We will share new and innovative methods; and provide opportunities for collaboration between local government and higher education design institutions.

The workshop is aimed at local government engagement and consultation officers working in policy, strategy and public engagement, interested or active in new approaches and resources for public engagement and consultation. It is also aimed at design academics interested or active in new opportunities for collaborative learning and societal impact.

The programme includes:
· Representatives from The Consultation Institute and the London Borough of Camden sharing their insights into the legislative landscape and current practices in engagement, consultation and coproduction in policy making.
· Decision-making journeys: A hands-on diagnostic exercise to map out participants’ decision-making journeys, sharing the methods and tools used within them, and interrogating which approaches are most effective in which contexts.
· Creative engagement and consultation exchange: Presentations showcasing collaborations that are delivering the latest research in participatory design approaches to engagement and creative consultation, including Leon Cruickshank (Lancaster University) who will present the use of consultation tools in Beyond the Castle and Leapfrog projects; Theo Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou (Open University) who will present an asset mapping methodology that has been applied to inform engagement, consultation and co-production of public services; and Adam Thorpe (University of the Arts London, Public Collaboration Lab) and the London Borough of Camden who will share their experiences of the Future Libraries Creative Consultation project.

· Finally, we aim to draw our insights to summarise the common challenges in public engagement and consultation, and identify opportunities for participatory design responses and opportunities for further collaboration between local government and design universities.