Design Thinking and User Centered Design

The Royal College of Art, is the world’s most influential, wholly postgraduate university of art and design – widely viewed as a crucible of the creative industries. Recognised for the outstanding quality of its graduates, the College boasts such note-worthy alumni as Sir James Dyson, Tracey Emin, Sir Ridley Scott, Henry Moore and many more luminaries from the world of art and design.

Executive Education works closely with the Royal College of Art to deliver an exciting learning experience called the Innovation Safari. We have used the safari experience on bespoke programmes for multinational energy, telecommunications and consumer goods companies.


The purpose

The Innovation Safari aims to inspire and help foster innovation and entrepreneurial mindsets. Whatever role participants may have, whether it is products, processes, services, brands, procurement, or any other function, the innovation safari exposes delegates to different innovations and aims to change mindsets from static to proactive and forward thinking.

The journey

Dr Nick Leon, Head of Service Design at the RCA, frames the session and then delegates are split into interdisciplinary groups and embark on a visit through the studios at the Royal College of Art, where they explore different exhibits. Together, these exhibits will illustrate different aspects of innovation, its management and practice. Each visit is facilitated by Royal College of Art students to ensure each interdisciplinary group finds both sources of inspiration as well as experience and apply innovation techniques like design thinking they’ve explored so far.

The impact

  • Analysis: Design/User research and problem framing approach
  • User Centricity: Role of Users and other key stakeholders in the creative as well as the detailed design process
  • Methods: Design Process – from research, creative methods, through ideation to design implementation and deployment
  • Integration: Involvement and Interaction between different disciplines – from business model innovation, through technological to service innovation
  • Systems Design: Re-conceptualisation of systems that are not only technological, but economic and socio-cultural

Exhibits previously explored

  • A creative visualisation workshop in the Vehicle Design studio focusing on sustainable urban transportation systems
  • Introduction to a new material technology called Fabrican, which has been conceived by a fashion designer, materials scientist and process engineer, and was first demonstrated for Spray on Haute Couture, but is now being exploited for spray on casts in the NHS, household hygiene, car interiors and drug delivery. The session was presented by the inventor and founder of Fabrican, Dr Manel Torres
  • Review a new award winning waterless sanitation system designed for the 2.8bn people who don’t have water for sanitation, and deals both with waste and generates power. The session was presented by the inventor, founder and managing director of Loowatt, Virginia Gardiner whose solution won the Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Award for Sanitation and Hygiene.
  • Explore a recharging solution for over 100 million mobile phone users in Africa that are off the electrical grid, but whose livelihood depends on the ability to take their products and services to market using their phone. The session was  presented by Daniel Bercera, the founder of Buffalo Grid.