As we welcome the New Year and get ready for an exciting run of new and continuing projects we thought we’d take a look back at the successes and highlights of Snook last year.

It’s been an eventful 12 months, so reflected in the expansion of our team, which has grown to ten people; in addition to further collaborators particularly within the digital sector. Thank you to everyone who has come and gone, and to all the internees we’ve had, all of whom you can read about here.

Overall, we’ve seen a real shift in the way we’re getting commissioned to undertake design work. There is a greater and more meaningful emphasis on co-design and putting people first which is a great development in Scotland, particularly aligning with policies such as the Christy Commission from a few years back.

We’ve also seen increased confidence in the design process allowing for more open investigation rather than restricted deliverables in our process. This means our work turns into delivering project initiation documents and service principles as opposed to merely service blueprints, journey maps or a range of personas. We’ve seen a rise in the use of service design methods in organisations and an surge in design ‘jams’ and camps which can only be a good thing for the design industry in Scotland. For Snook and the wider industry, this means there is a good basic knowledge in the tools and techniques of design which can result in better procurement and commissioning of design.

One of our most interesting learning developments this past year has centred around embedding design, in line with discovering what works and what doesn’t in both the private and public sector. Personally, the development of Stirling Makes, an in-house research and development capacity within Stirling Council has been one of my highlights, presenting both successes and challenging moments in terms of building confidence in a design led approach. I hope in 2014 we can continue to develop and implement design labs within and in partnership with Scottish local authorities.

We’ve continued not only to advise on service and product design but also develop our own products and programmes which you’ll find in our review of The Matter programme and work on Mozilla Open Badges. Further to this, MyPolice makes a comeback, providing us a real lesson to the fact that you can put things on the shelf, but they can still be relevant years down the line.

So for our highlights (and there have been many). Indeed too many to mention that we apologise for missing some key events and opportunities that we’ve been part of or indeed slightly altering the timeline of events…

A very sincere thanks to everyone who has supported us and worked with us during 2013.



We launch The Matter with our partners Young Scot in London as part of the Working Well Challenge from the Design Council and Nominet Trust. The Matter is a programme that gives organisations the opportunity to ask young people an important question and supports young people to research, design, publish and launch their own newspaper in response to it. In 2013 we completed two paper editions with Edinburgh and Stirling Councils and have been commissioned twice more for the same programme in 2014 by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Under the Start Up Street research from 2012, our partners on the Start Up Street project, Ice-cream Architecture open up a City Lab on King Street as part of the programme.

Our Director, Lauren is appointed the specialist adviser of Service Design and Innovation for the Cultural Enterprise Office and begins supporting new starts to think about their value propositions and services they offer in Scotland.



I’m honoured to be flown to Australia to keynote at ALIA in Brisbane, giving a talk on social design at RISD, and later spending time with Melbourne City Council sharing ideas about design and cities…though I didn’t forget to grab some sunshine in Manly along the way.

Andy Young leads work in Salford with Unlimited Potential as part of the Design Council’s Leadership programme to tackle problem drinking, developing a concept called ‘A Brew Club.’

Valerie Carr and Lauren Currie take part in Design In Action’s first Chiasma on Diabetes and are funded to take forward two projects, T2U and Low Sugar Shop, which we will be continuing to shape in 2014.



March is an exciting month as it sees the realisation of our embedding design ideas, which come to life just as we also join in the annual Global Service Jam.

As a continuation of our report on The Learner Journey for Scottish Government, we worked with the government to embed a designer, Lizzie Brotherston to develop an interactive route map. Together we ran the Learner Journey Data Jam with the education sector and a range of designers and developers to bring concepts to life over a weekend, including a course map built from data released from educational organisations. This was a landmark event and is part of a steady flow of creative hack events being support by government including Project Ginsberg and NHS Hack Event.

We co-host a Global Service Jam with Doberman in Stockholm and our own in Glasgow with Zahra Davidson.



Badgemaker Screenshot

We teach service design to masters students in Austria for Marc Stickdorn at Innsbruck University, and welcome Prof. Chris Arnold’s university class form Auburn, Alabama to our annual Service Design Masterclass, building service concepts for the Commonwealth Games.

Bridge, a project we worked on with Glasgow University in 2012 based on keeping older people healthy in deprived communities in Glasgow via contact with their GP comes to a close. As the report is launched, evidence shows that thanks to the project some older people are undertaking more physical activity in their daily lives.

We win the Technology Strategy Board and Mozilla Education contest with our entry Badgemaker, funding us to work on a platform to use Mozilla Open Badges in schools in Scotland and welcome Lizzie and Vala full time into the team later on in the year to lead this up.



Over the summer we work with the MMM Group taking the service design approach into their transport consultancy, while assisting in the holding of their own jam which developed a Mobility Management toolkit and established embedded design into their organisation.



Valerie Carr works with the Lancaster University Creative Exchange team and other SMEs to develop a set of procurement guidelines for authorities. We continue to work with Lancaster by giving a short talk on service design with organisations including Engine, Design Wales and Policy Connect relating to their research into service design as part of SDR UK and later lecturing on their Design Management MA course. Lancaster University continue to push forward the agenda on conducting research into the practice and we will continue to follow their work on the SDR UK platform and look forward to the Servdes Conference in 2014.

We work with ACOSVO, looking at how service design can support them to shape their business offer and speak at their annual conference later in the year to a host of third sector organisations.



We continue our relationship with Hyper Island with Andy Young leading this project in Manchester. We’ve always valued this relationship and the amazing talent of the people we’ve often had come work with us at Snook from Hyper’s UK and Stockholm bases.

Snook win a share of a £620,000 digital fund through Creative Clyde to develop a digital arm of our service.

We’re brought back to work on Sync 2013, after Andy delivers some great projects from 2012 with the Military Tattoo and MacRobert. We become even more excited about the possibility of technology and cultural organisations in Scotland. Sync will be launching the final results in early 2014 so we’ll make sure to share them.



Restarting Britain 2 from Design in Action on Vimeo.

Lauren speaks in Scottish Parliament on the launch of Restarting Britain 2 with Design in Action.

We complete our work on Care Information Scotland, which Roxana Bacian and Valerie Carr lead up for NHS24. We deliver a complete service blueprint based on months of work with carers and informal carers across Scotland, co-designing an information service for NHS24 to deliver in 2014.

We work on ADD-ART in collaboration with Social Value Lab. This is a Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Community Health Partnership programme which uses creative writing and drama to support those recovering from addiction. We work with our partners to bring a service design and evaluation approach together to advise and showcase the impact of the service.

In August, Roxana and Andy take design and innovation into Stirling Council with a new programme, Stirling Makes, supported by the Assistant Chief Executive Linda Kinney. We work with the Community Engagement Team to consider the model in which they can operate as an internal design consultancy and put people at the heart of their product and service development. The work continues over the course of the year to embed agile processes into their work and to conduct a ‘take a look at’ report on Community Councils.



Peer-ing into the future from Pioneers Post TV on Vimeo.

In September, I am flown to Providence in the United States to keynote at the Better World by Design Conference at Brown University and Rhode Island’s School of Design. This is a phenomenal experience at which I see a great opportunity to quote from Irving Welsh’s Trainspotting while discussing how design can support the development of a country.

We work with the National Galleries of Scotland on plans for their gallery spaces and enjoy getting down to the details of how this will operate.

It’s awards season and we’re delighted for Lauren to be nominated for Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Business at the Association Scottish Business Woman Awards, and I for Outstanding Contribution by a young person in business at the People Make Glasgow Awards.

We work with UnLtd and Santander to develop Nightriders, a programme we are launching in February 2014 to bring together people who want to make good things happen in Scotland. It is an eight week programme that is led by the first cohort in a repeat of the programme. Our hope is that the network will grow and develop over time to become self-sustaining. You can follow our updates of this project on twitter.

We run a workshop in collaboration with the Home Office around online public and police feedback. This is a great moment for MyPolice, which whilst successful in its 2011 pilot in terms of results, then wasn’t the right time for its implementation by regional police authorities. We’re hoping in 2014 to see more developments, so watch this space.



We spend the weekend as the Badgemaker team at the Mozilla Festival which blows our minds. It was great to have the first developed paper toolkit of Badgemaker on show, which had conference goers developing over 100 Open Badges.

Glasgow City Council has recently received £24 million awarded by the Technology Strategy Board and are running a program named Future City Glasgow with the objective of making life in the city safer, smarter and more sustainable. Struan and Robin begin work on the programme looking at how a smart city can rethink waste and road repairs. We’re documenting our work on a blog and are excited about being employed on this platform alongside many other fantastic partner organisations.

Andy goes on a business mission to China, touring and talking about Snook, product and service design with BiS and the Creative Industries KTN.

We run a Snook soiree, an event bringing together our whole team and a chance to share all the work we’ve been doing and the lessons we’ve been learning over the past 4 years. This is a great opportunity to finally catch up as a team and put together all our work and share it online via a live stream link.

Roxana leads a design camp regarding the process of Edinburgh University Student Information which we deliver in a report for development in 2014.

We talk at Community Engagement 2013 and run a workshop on using social media and engaging communities in Scotland and at the Northern Lights Conference in Aberdeen on digital by default.


We run two workshops at the Mind Conference introducing service design methods and tools to staff from local organisations. We also launch Project 99, looking at social media, young people and mental health in collaboration with the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Young Scot and the Mental Health Foundation. Our outputs include a report of desk research and case studies, a range of developed products and services co-designed with young people and a series of animated images (.gifs) which act as a viral youth guide to support young people in their mental well-being. We will be formally launching the work in early January 2014 and are excited to release this as a support guide for people designing mental health services for young people online. A poignant thought taken from the launch came in the words of a young person who said: ‘Just make sure the services you design for us are beautiful.’


We work with Social Value Lab to evaluate the Renfrewshire through-care service that supports young people in the area to move into new homes and secure employment, by holding a design day with 20 young people in Renfrew, resulting in a hybrid report of quantitative evaluation and qualitative information collated from the youngsters present.


We begin work with the British Council on the Culture Shift programme in Nigeria which we have previously been part of in Lagos and Cairo. Culture Shift brings together technologists, designers and cultural organisations to develop ideas for their sector over a series of workshops and supports the groups to make these sustainable. Andy makes a quick continent jump there to begin the first phase of the programme as we begin to develop the tools and programme for the project which culminates in February 2014.


Lauren is awarded a coveted place on the Entrepreneurship course at Boston’s MIT which takes place in January 2014.

We work with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Parks on designing an approach to engage more people in the planning process within the team’s beautiful offices in Balloch.

We finish up our strategy work with Education Scotland on Parent Information and their creative and continuous improvement strategy.

We begin work with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and The Matter on designing and delivering a user generated campaign for young people in Glasgow on alcohol awareness and similarly on sexual health and relationships with Young Scot and LGBT Youth Scotland.

We gear up for the development of RITA, an outcome of Valerie’s involvement in the TSB Long Term Care Revolution Sandpit for 2014.

We finish off our report on Community Councils, which puts form to ideas on increasing citizen engagement and involvement in these democratic processes as part of Stirling Makes which we hope to take forward in 2014.

So that’s us for 2013, and as we look forward to 2014, we’ve a few plans up our sleeves…

It’s going to be a very interesting year for both Snook and Scotland.