The Role of Design As a Critical Friend to the Voluntary Community Sector

Laura Warwick
School of Design, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Robert Young
School of Design, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

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Ingår i: Service Design Geographies. Proceedings of the ServDes.2016 Conference

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 125:28, s. 339-351

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Publicerad: 2016-05-17

ISBN: 978-91-7685-738-0

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper presents one of the key findings from a recent Doctoral inquiry into the relevance and applicability of adopting a Design for Service (DfS) approach to effect transformation in Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) contexts. The research used case study method, reflective practice and content analysis to establish that the use of design at a systemic level of a VCS organisation could incite transformational change. The paper reveals that the stakeholders’ initial trust in the designer is more important than their trust in the DfS approach (methods and processes), which becomes crucial to increasing the influence of design in the organisation. Once the designer becomes a ‘friend’ to the organisation, they can operate at an embedded level as a ‘critical friend’, which allows them to challenge the status quo and create new organisational perspectives. The paper finally presents a ‘critical friend’ model depicting how design can be used to effect transformation in such settings.


design for service, transformation, critical friend, charity, public services


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