A shout out to Workchops.

Screen Shot 2017 03 13 at 2.29.21 PM

There are many courses in New Zealand that cater for introductions, 1:01s and tasters for the less experienced, but nothing for the more seasoned professional. New Zealand’s remoteness means it can be expensive and arduous to travel overseas to work with leading international practitioners and this can inhibit opportunities for personal development, growth and discovery.  

The inaugural Workchops event is an immersive retreat, culminating in a free public talk at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts on Wednesday the 22nd of March. During the 4 day event, designers, policy makers and social innovators will expand their co-design and design for public policy practices by working with two international design luminaries. 

The value of the Inaugural Workchops weekend will be in enabling participants and facilitators to consider what is used and developing in practice overseas, with the specific goal of considering the New Zealand environment and needs.

The facilitators for the first Workchops event are Liz Sanders and Andrea Siodmok. 

Liz Sanders is a well-known visionary in co-design research, having introduced many of the tools, techniques and methods being used today to drive and/or inspire design from a human-centered perspective. Liz has practiced co-designing across all the design disciplines. Her current focus is on bringing participatory, human-centered design thinking and co-creation practices to the challenges we face for the future. She is co-author of the book Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design. 

Andrea Siodmok is both a practitioner and design thinker with an international reputation for applying design for public good. Formerly Chief Design Officer at the Design Council, she is currently head of the UK Government’s Policy Lab and a Deputy Director at the Cabinet Office.

She is passionate about expanding the boundaries of design practice. From the earliest days of her career at BT’s Adastral Park Labs, through to her more recent Policy Lab projects, her work demonstrates practical ways to improve peoples' lives using design principles and practice. She was an early proponent of service design, and has been a champion for public involvement in designing better public services. 

Workchops is not only about fetishising overseas practices and being seduced by the exotic. The team are trying to create an experience that has value for both facilitators and participants alike. Participants have been able to communicate with facilitators in the lead-up to the event to shape their learning – facilitators will be give the opportunity to explore and prototype new ideas they have as part of the Workchops weekend. 

It’s not purely about professional development – Workchops is also about exploring, provoking and pushing design practice forward in New Zealand, with the long-term aim of promoting what is distinctly New Zealand, both here and overseas. 

One of the most important elements of the weekend will be the questions raised around what the methods and tools of design practice mean for design and specifically, which are relevant to us here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

This in itself is a conversation we think we need to keep having.

Main image: Andrea Siodmok.


Chris Jackson _ Service Innovation Director.