My research applies design thinking and practice to solving real-life problems in the domains of new technology development, science communication and social design.
In 2017 I co-authored a paper in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies on Designing Interactive Newsprint, inwhich I designed new forms of interactive newspaper using conductive inktechnology and trialled these on end users in the community of Preston, UK (see figure 1).
This interest in designing artefacts extends to designing services – applying design methods. I’m currently working with Dr Qassim Saad and Adjunct Associate Professor Dianne Smith on Social Design in Action – a participatory action research (PAR) project working withChallis Community Primary School to design a unified health, community and education service that improves life outcomes for families and children in Armadale.
I recently wrote and published the Social StartupToolkit (published by UnLtd – the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs) which provides tools and learning resources for social entrepreneurs trying to build social ventures. Based on a development programme that I branded, wrote and delivered, the toolkit (designed by Fremantle design company Chil3) builds on three years work supporting social entrepreneurs in the UK.
My research draws upon the practice of visual communication design and an interest in design process models for design-led innovation. On the one hand I can design forms of visual communication to aid our understanding of the world (see figure 4) and on the other I can use design thinking to solve more complex, systematic problems. In this sense, I am inspired by the notion of ‘think like a system, act like an entrepreneur’. Design is a sense-making,meaning-making discipline and designers – as contrarians, challengers,visualisers, and future-makers – have a facilitating and leading role to play in tackling many of the world’s problems.
 Conway, R., Masters, J., & Thorold, J (2017) From Design Thinking to Systems Change: How to invest in innovation for social impact, Royal Society of the Arts, London.