Nick de Leon on Innovating Policy and Transforming Services

Dr. Nick de Leon from the Royal College of Art spoke about service design within the two-year RCA program in London.

There are 60 graduate and Ph.D candidates working on 10 concurrent projects with industry partners across the private and public sector. Consumer electronics, luxury retail, Ministry of Justice, etc. Students take on these projects to build a mutual capacity for design between the designers and clients. People are the raw material of services.

Dr. de Leon framed the role of the service designer as more of a midwife, not necessarily conceiving the ideas, but helping to bring those voices into the world and nurture them. In the spirit of last year’s disdain for tea cups, he observed that the world doesn’t need another chair or another lamp.

RCA is beginning to work with the public sector both in the UK and internationally in order to align policy and practice rather than developing policy in isolation. Design can help to find the right policy, not just the right implementation.

The final part of his presentation focused on RCA’s work in the public sector across the healthcare industry, criminal justice. Like the previous presentation from GE he advocated for the intervention of designers much earlier in the process.

He also emphasized the importance of partnerships with private sector actors to help deliver aspects of public services.


  1. Video of this talk is available here:




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