Design for health and wellbeing


Good Kitchen  

Poor diet among older people is a significant public health issue. Research suggests that older adults are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition due to a range of physical, economic and social factors which influence food access, choice and behaviour.

The Good Kitchen is a service design solution that aimed to improve the quality of food experience for the elderly as well as social interaction with and respect for the elderly. The design was developed in collaboration between a design company, a municipality and the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority.

The design process that was employed involved the following

  • Field Studies, interviews and observations of how the elderly planned, prepared and ate food from food service

  • Idea Workshop with kitchen staff, home care, elder representatives, town councilors and designers

  • Prototypes of solutions and suggestions for service improvements were evaluated by the elderly users and staff.

While the initial intention was to improve  a menu system for elderly people, the design process resulted in a whole new service with more inviting menu cards, several new opportunities for food choices, improved communication between the user and the kitchen in the form of a simple post card based dialog as well as more opportunities for dining together. Even the cars delivering the food was redesigned

Co-design for policy & public service innovation

Family By Family by the Australian Centre for Social Innovation

1 in 5 children in Australia are notified to child protection services before the age of 15. That statistic is 1 in 2 for Indigenous Children. Since 2005 there has been a 51% increase in children removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care in Australia. Family services are overwhelmed, whilst child protection services are only able to respond to the most extreme cases. The financial costs are significant. Every year in Australia about $1,944m is spent addressing the long-term impact of child abuse and neglect. The cost of setting up and running Family by Family in an area is equivalent to the money saved by preventing a family of three from entering long term care.


Family by Family emerged from a co-design process with 100s of families that was framed by the question: “How can a new service enable more families to thrive and fewer to come into contact with crisis services?” Over 12 months The Australian Centre for Social Innovation worked with government child protection services, local NGOs, child protection academics, a local city, a design team and most importantly families to design what became Family by Family.

Family by Family is a new network of families helping families. It enables families to set and achieve their own goals with the support of other families who have 'been there, done that'. Goals like improving kids behaviour, making better friends, getting out more, or learning about Australia. The service finds and trains families (kids included) who have made it through tough times, matches them with families who want things to change, and coaches family pairs through a 10-30 week link-up. The aim is to enable families to thrive, not just survive.

Design for civic engagement

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Open Works by Lambeth Council

The Open Works was an experiment by Lambeth Council to see how they could create more opportunities for all citizens to participate in public life, and actively shape where they live in real and practical ways. The idea was to test these ideas and to see if these new networks of activity can benefit everyone and help us to bridge some of the social and economic divides. The types of experiments it looked at included:

  • Can we connect with each other more, through everyday activities such as working, eating, learning, making, growing  and cooking, rather than doing many of these things alone?

  • Can we do this as an intergenerational community of peers, working together not as consumers, but as creative and open citizens?  

  • Can we work collectively across institutional and governmental boundaries to build a new system of spaces and activity that are sustainable and shape a positive future?

  • Can we design new types of inclusive and generative local projects that have multiple effects - working to improve individual and collective health, education, safety, employment, wellbeing ... ?

  • Can we create more equality of opportunity for people to grow their ideas, whether for community projects or to start a business ... or even invent new livelihoods which might be a mixture of both?


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Design for social impact



Lumkani is a low-cost fire alarm and community alert system. It connects to other devices within range to create a community-wide response when there is a fire detected.  Across
the globe, fires are a frequent and devastating occurrence in informal settlements due to
the density of households, the use of unsafe cooking, lighting and heating methods, and
the flammable materials which homes are often built with. The combination of these factors
enable shack fires to spread rapidly, easily destroying hundreds of homes and displacing thousands of people in a single blaze.

In 2013, three massive fires ripped through South Africa’s largest slum, Khayelitsha, displacing over 5,000 people. This inspired a team to come together and create Lumkani – a start-up and social enterprise. The team designed a new fire alert system that detects heat instead of smoke to notify the closest fire station, thus giving residents and emergency services much more time to act. The GPS-based fire location system also notifies the surrounding community – including neighbours within a 60-meter radius – so that they can also take action before professional help arrives.

By providing both inhabitants and firemen with real-time information, the new system will
have the capacity to significantly reduce the number of spreading fires in the world’s most vulnerable communities. The first detectors distributed in December 2014 have already prevented two dangerous fires from spreading in densely populated communities.


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