At Design Council we often talk about the need to make life better by design. Working with Margate Films we have explored how design is improving the life of one family in Hull.  

Craig’s story is relatively simple. He wants to improve the life of his daughter, Imogen, who has Williams’ Syndrome. This means that she can get very easily distracted when learning new things. A virtual reality (VR) headset can help to take these distractions away. However, Craig found that what was available on the market wasn’t suitable as the sensory overload was upsetting for his daughter.  Craig responded to this challenge by designing an appropriate educational VR programme, and a book to accompany it. Like all design thinking Craig’s story of designing new VR experiences for Imogen has been an iterative process in which he has understood the needs of the user and redefined the problem. Craig, though, would never think of himself as a designer.

By not looking or sounding like a designer Craig has run into problems. To make the project work, and to get it out into the world, he would need further investment. This is proving difficult as he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree or a PhD, just a good idea and skills which are self-taught.

What Craig shows us is that the design skill set and mind set is not just found in a certain area or within a certain group. It is something that, given the need or right resources, can be discovered anywhere but there still seems to be a barrier. This is reflected in our Design Economy research which found design is 78% male with the majority from high socio-economic classes (67%) and very London-centric. Design is democratising, yet from our research and Craig’s story it seems that designers have to look, or act, a certain way. In an era of huge challenges we must ask why this is, and whether this should still be the case in 2018.

A Margate Films Production

Director: Ellen Evans

Director of Photography: Tom Doran

Executive Producer: Beth Turrell

Music: Danyal Dhondy

Colourist: Vlad Barin

Sound Design: Tim Garratt

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