Socio-eco innovation by co-designing products & services

In our turbulent, complex world we need to revitalise our belief in design innovation as a viable approach to positive change.

‘Co-design4…’ is a series of inter-connected workshops that harness the power of design philosophy, thinking and processes to explore diverse sustainability challenges and encourage socio-eco innovation to help design new products and services.

Co-design4… 2010 Workshops:

New workshops for the year 2010 will be announced here in due course...

Co-design4… 2009 Workshops:

1. Eco-efficiency and eco-effectiveness
2. Passive and active energy reduction strategies
3. Mobility, eco-tourism and the eco-hotel (re-scheduled)
4. Socio-eco entrepreneurs and emerging eco-economies
5. Eco-localisation and authentic consumption
6. Adaptability, resilience and autonomy
7. Happiness and well-being
8. Transparency and democracy
9. Design Seeds for Co-Futuring

A key tenet is that all the participants become mutual learners (and teachers) led by the workshop facilitator, Alastair Fuad-Luke.  Each cohort becomes its own teaching and learning group by embracing the principle of ‘collective intelligence’.

the co-design loop


Why ‘co-design’?

‘Co-design’ means designing together.  ‘Co-design’ is an approach combining multi-stakeholder dialogue with Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) in the ‘co-design loop’.  Co-designing is co-futuring.

Co-design is a holistic and inclusive three stage approach based upon collective intelligence, giving a real voice to stakeholders. The co-design loop reveals new potential to innovate:

Experiencing - experience, use, monitor, sense (feedback) - this critical stage is often given limited attention, by conventional design approaches.  It asks about how the ‘design’ is experienced/used/maintained/repaired, how it is monitored, and, crucially, what the feedback is telling us about social, environmental and financial impacts of the design.

Problematising - understand, frame, conceptualise – this stage generates a deep understanding of the real, interconnected problem(s)

Solutioning - create, design, produce, service – this stage ensures solutions are created with input from a wide range of users and stakeholders, increasing the chances of them being effective and culturally acceptable.

Who are the workshops for?

Co-design4… Workshops are for everyone who wishes to acquire new design thinking and design strategy skills and/or to lever opportunities in the emerging socio-eco economic landscape.  This includes:

…Managers from commercial enterprise
…Managers from social enterprises and community interest companies
…Design professionals
…Design educators
…Design and other post-graduates
…Sustainability managers or officers

Dartington Glasgow workshop April 2009

What are the benefits?

You will develop a new holistic skill set around:

…Design processes and approaches (eco-design, co-design, slow design)
…Design facilitation
…Design communication
…Design innovation

You will understand the multiple values of a design-led approach to strategy, management, creation, production, innovation and enterprise development.

You will learn about:

…Key sustainability drivers and issues
…New opportunities generated by the sustainability challenge
…Case studies revealing new enterprise models and ways of working

What is the structure of the workshops?

All workshops are one day only, starting 9.30am and finishing 6.30pm.  Each workshop follows a generic structure (below) using the co-design loop, combining lectures, the application of co-design tools, and group work.  Workshops are for a minimum of 10 participants up to a maximum of 20 participants.  All participants receive a CD of the lectures, plus any materials generated during group work through the day.

Schedule Task
9.00-9.30am Registration
9.30-10.00am Introduction to day; participants introduce themselves
10.00-11.00am Lecture 1
11.00-11.15am Coffee/tea break
11.15-11.30am Initial discussion.  Defining the context; finding & framing the right questions –
11.30am-12.15pm Co-design toolbox 1 – introducing some useful tools
12.15-1.00pm Group work session 1 – Experiencing & Problematising – What we already know & feel
1.00-2.00pm LUNCH
2.00-3.15pm Lecture 2 & Co-design toolbox 2
3.15-3.45pm Group work session 2 – Problematising & early Solutioning – Honing our understanding & beginning to co-create
3.45-4.00pm Tea/coffee break
4.00-5.00pm Group work session 3 – further Solutioning & Experiencing – Refining our creations and sensing their future(s)
5.00-6.00pm Developing a Design Seed
6.00-6.30pm Rounding up & ‘what next’…
6.30pm Close

All food is organically sourced, with a variety that embraces vegetarian and non-vegetarians alike.


It is hoped that each workshop cohort will acquire new skills and find new opportunities through the co-design approach.  It is also hoped that they become generous design citizens and will co-design a proposal or outcome that can be posted online at Design Seeds.  With this objective in mind, the last workshop of the series on 16th October 2009, entitled ‘Design Seeds for Co-futuring’ is FREE to anyone who has participated in any of the previous Co-design4… Workshops.


The venue for all workshops is The Hub, just five minutes walk King’s Cross mainline station and underground tube, London, UK.  The Hub is…‘ a social enterprise with the ambition to inspire and support imaginative and enterprising initiatives for a better world’.

Hub King’s Cross, 34b York Way, London, N1 9AB, UK
Tel: +44(0)20 7841 3450
Map here

How much?

Type of participant
Workshop cost
Commercial enterprises
Government or public sector
Social enterprises, not-for-profits, or charities
The Hub members

An invoice will be issued on receipt of your order, payment is nett 15 days or, if within fifteen days before each workshop then payment is due immediately on ordering.

If you wish to attend more than two workshops then discounts to the above prices apply.  For three to four workshops there is an additional 10% discount on the unit price.  For four to eight workshops there is an overall 20% discount on unit prices.  To secure these extra discounted prices payment has to be made in full on placement of your order.

Here’s the… booking form

Co-design4… 2009 Workshops: themes & dates

Each workshop follows the generic schedule above, but will progress through the day to meet the needs of the participants.  Workshop themes and the specific lectures, with dates, are as follows:

Workshop 1:

Eco-efficiency & eco-effectiveness
01 May 2009

De-coupling environmental impacts from economic growth is under-pinned by ideas of eco-efficiency, how to do more with less (resources), and being more energy efficient through the life cycle of a product/building/service.  What are the best eco-efficient design strategies?  How do we ensure if these eco-efficiency gains translate into eco-effective improvements in the environment and the economy?
Lecture 1:  Understanding eco-efficiency drivers, orientating your eco-efficiency strategy and detailed design.
Lecture 2:  Factor X, or what levels of eco-effectiveness do we need to survive and/or flourish?

Workshop 2:

Passive & active energy reduction strategies
15 May 2009

Existing and emerging eco-efficient energy technologies will not deliver a low- or zero- carbon future.  Nor will these technologies guarantee a nation’s or communities’ energy security, although they can undoubtedly contribute to these ambitions.  Technological progress requires a concomitant shift in behaviour in the home, the workplace, in the way we travel, and in our everyday institutions.  Only then will we confidently be able to say our energy future looks bright.
Lecture 1:  Strategies for energy efficiency for our built environment and infrastructure: From passive houses to solar factories, from renewable powered mobility products to ‘on demand’ mobility services.
Lecture 2:  Lowering our energy quotient and improving our lives – dream or reality?

Workshop 3:

Mobility, eco-tourism and the eco-hotel
29 May 2009

Post-poned to 18 September 2009 (see below)

People, information, goods and waste are subject to global mobilisation on an unprecedented scale supported, in the main, by the fossil fuel industry.  How will mobility shift in a post Peak oil world?  How can we mobilise, experience different destinations and enjoy staying in accommodation that treads lightly, encourages the development of local eco-economies, and ensure our children will be able to do the same?
Lecture 1:  Diversity and connectivity, two essential ingredients for future-proofing our mobility and tourist options:  A review of everything from the daily commute to the concept of slow travel.
Lecture 2:  Blueprinting the ideal socio-eco hotel: Lessons from around the globe.

Workshop 4:

Socio-eco entrepreneurs & emerging eco-economies
12 June 2009

The sustainability conversation has stimulated entrepreneurs to look for new opportunities to deliver improved social equity, revitalise communities, reduce environmental impacts, and regenerate our local and global ecologies. 
Lecture 1: A day in the life of an eco-socio entrepreneur – a showcase of how these new enterprises are changing our everyday lives.
Lecture 2:  The expanding lexicon of the ‘eco-economy’: Welcome to the world of low-carbon, carbon-neutral, zero-waste, closed loop, cradle2cradle and co-production enterprise.

Workshop 5:

Eco-localisation and authentic consumption
26 June 2009

Eco-footprinting reveals nations’ real geographic catchments for imported raw and manufactured materials, food, energy and water.  In doing so it reveals the true extent of the globalisation of resource use and is responsible for nurturing the concept of ‘localisation’, first mooted in the 1970s then revived from the late 1990s onwards.   ‘Eco-localism’ or ‘eco-localisation’ proposes a re-evaluation of the biological and technological basis bringing our footprint much closer to home and revitalising the idea of the ‘authentic’ celebrating local and regional production and consumption. 
Lecture 1: What is the potentiality of eco-localisation?: Taking inspiration from diverse food movements – organic food, slow food, edible cities and other experiments.
Lecture 2:  What is our understanding of ‘authentic consumption’?  Is there potential for new ways of designing, making and producing?

Workshop 6:

Adaptability, resilience and autonomy
10 July 2009

During the last eighteen months world prices of basic energy and food commodities have oscillated, financial systems have crashed, the climate warms, and ecosystems continue to degrade.  This maelstrom of colliding events shows the vulnerability inbuilt into our complex life support systems on which we depend.  Do we need to re-think and re-skill to wean ourselves from this dangerous dependency?
Lecture 1:  Experiments in autonomy, past and present: From the Shakers to Transition Towns and beyond…
Lecture 2:  The design facilitators: Increasing societal capacity to be adaptive and autonomous.

Workshop 7:

Happiness & well-being
11 September 2009

Indices for sustainable development have long included parameters for measuring fiscal, social and environmental well-being, but are we monitoring the right parameters and how does design help set new strategies for well-being?  In 2006 the New Economics Foundation’s landmark report, The (Un)Happy Planet Index (HPI), merged data on nation states’ perceptions on happiness and life expectancy with their ecological debit (or occasionally, credit) to reveal their unique HPI.  The results were edifying and suggested that we have an urgent need to re-evaluate how we can improve our happiness without increasing our (insatiable) demands on limited global resources. 
Lecture 1:  The metrics of happiness and well-being: Contemporary studies of our subjective states of being in a warming world
Lecture 2:  Designing new ‘affordance’ in the buildings, products, services and experiences that surround us – as a means to increase the potential for happiness.

Workshop 3 (re-scheduled):

Mobility, eco-tourism and the eco-hotel
18 September 2009

This workshop unravels the connections between mobility, eco-tourism and the growing demand for eco-accommodation and looks at the opportunities revealed. How will mobility and travel shift in a post Peak oil world?  How can we mobilise, travel to experience different destinations and expand eco-tourism options? What will the eco-hotel of the future look like? How can we encourage accommodation that treads lightly and develops local eco-economies? How do we ensure travel and tourism options for future generations?
Lecture 1: Diversity and connectivity, two essential ingredients for future-proofing our mobility and tourist options:  A review of everything from the daily commute to the concept of slow travel.
Lecture 2: Blueprinting the ideal socio-eco hotel: Lessons from around the globe.

Workshop 8:

Transparency & democracy
25 September 2009

Who really decides what we make, what new services or infrastructure are provided and which resources are mobilised in our globalised consumer economy?  Is the notion of ‘consumer-led’ design a myth or does genuine power exist at the grassroots level to change what happens next?  Are we able to make informed decisions about what we purchase or is there a need for greater transparency? 
Lecture 1:  It’s all in the label: Point of sale information to inform consumer choices – from eco- and energy labels to radio-frequency indication (RFID) tags and more.
Lecture 2:  MootSpace – a concept for co-futuring by design, or re-democratising how, where, what and when we design and produce.

Workshop 9:

Design Seeds for Co-Futuring
16 October 2009

This workshop is FREE to any of the participants of Workshops 1 – 8.  Attendees of the previous workshops will be given the chance to give a 15 minute talk about their Design Seed, developed in the previous workshops or subsequently.  This is a chance to develop Design Seeds further…