Design of Value and Value of Design: The roles of strategic design in (traditionally) non-design disciplines

Russell Thom, Christopher Kueh, and Hanadi Haddad (ECU)
2017 Conference

Design skills such as Design Thinking, strategic design and service design are seen globally as skillsets that can help to innovate business, social, health, and environmental sectors in the 21st Century (see Martin, 2009; Mootee, 2013; Brown and Wyatt, 2010). However, there is a difference between the perceived value of design in design practice versus academic design research. After decades of philosophical and conceptual discussions, design research has not yet found its academic position among the science and arts (see Faste and Faste, 2012; Jonas, 2012; Krippendorff 2007). Focusing on design based research, this paper proposes the Integrated People-Centred Design Model as the means to contribute new knowledge that navigates the common ground between practice and academia. This model has been generated from an industry funded research project that explores design as the means to unpack and provide possibilities to complex service delivery challenges in the disability sector. The model explores the value of design through the lenses of experiential, behavioural, procedural and functional innovation. The objective of this paper is to explore ways to bridge the gap between the value of design in practice and academia. This paper also discusses an on-going PhD project that applies the Integrated People-Centred Model, that has to date, bridge the gap of value between design practice and academic research.

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About the author

Russell Thom, PhD Candidate, Edith Cowan University

Russell is a social service designer who practices in Western Australia since year 1990. He is passionate about developing innovative solutions to complex problems. Russell is currently conducting his PhD research that focuses on applying design process to innovate public services in the disability sector.


 Dr Christopher Kueh, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University

Christopher’s passion and expertise are in applying design process and methods to innovate social and organisational challenges. This has led him to winning community based research projects. Christopher’s career objective is to expand the value of design through merging academic research with design practice.


Dr Hanadi Haddad, Lecturer, Edith Cowan University

Dr. Hanadi Haddad worked extensively with external clients for undergraduate and postgraduate design projects, including a current Industry Collaboration PhD project with the Executive Director of the Public Health Division of the WA Health Department. This involves the application of ethically designed co-creation methods with several health based organizations and their clients, classified as vulnerable.