April 16, 2019

PG #31 – The power of small, sensitive interventions

Illustration of a man and a woman holding ends of a drawing compass as it sketches a circle with two marked points

People that know me know I talk a lot about how design intervenes in the world. Sometimes, more cynically, I use the term ‘interferes’. I use these words as a way of reflecting on the fact that design – especially strategic design – is explicitly about changing existing ways of doing things in order to have an impact: on people, on the future, on organisations, on the planet.

A few weeks ago I was humbled to be on a panel alongside the wonderful designers Lina Patel and Leander Kreltszheim, where we discussed ‘Communities of Care’. Something Lina said at the session really stuck with me:

People come up [to me and say], “Oh, I want to make an impact.”

We’re in the anthropocene right now. Whether you like it or not, you will make an impact. […] We are literally making an impact on the geology of this planet. I think a more useful question to ponder is, “What kind of impact am I having?”

Designers (including myself) could stand to be a lot more humble about the impact that we have. To borrow Lina’s words, “I just don’t think that many of us are making that big a difference.” We are privileged to work at a point of change in complex systems, but the scale of our impact is, in reality, pretty limited.

On that note, I love this idea of ‘small, sensitive interventions’ – by choosing and considering how and where we intervene in organisations, systems and feedback loops, perhaps outsize positive impact is possible. Perhaps with small, sensitive interventions we can undo the negative effects of large, clumsy, insensitive ones. I think it’s worth a shot.

— Reuben Stanton, Design Director

Read the rest of Issue #31 here.

April 2, 2019

PG #30 – Turning data into decisions

“Just because something is easy to count doesn’t mean it’s useful to count, or relevant to the decisions you want to make.”  

When people look for evidence to base their decisions on, they tend to choose things that are easy to measure – simple numbers that you can watch go up or down. But the world isn't simple. When we use simple numbers as proxies for complexity, we can miss the very thing we are trying to understand.

In this fortnight's newsletter, we take a look at the complexities of designing with data, how sci-fi writers are being paid to predict our futures and Paper Giant's Experience Design and Strategy Lead, Kate Goodwin, reflects on the benefits of making friends with complexity.

– the PG team

March 20, 2019

PG #29 – Breaking cycles, creating cycles

In this fortnight's edition of the newsletter we ask, how can the work we do as designers be not disruptive, but regenerative – for our systems, our communities, for ourselves?

Because we are making changes to the world, and we have a responsibility to be stewards of our future.

– Reuben and the PG team

March 7, 2019

PG #28 – “When you can’t name a problem, you can’t solve it”

Women from all backgrounds working together to put puzzle pieces of the world back together.
Illustration by Hope Lumsden-Barry

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that for many women is one of both celebration and mourning: how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go.

In that context, I want to talk briefly about ‘intersectionality’, a word that some people dismiss as one piece of jargon too many. “Every five minutes there’s a new word you have to know, and if you can’t keep up, you’re a bad feminist! It’s too much!” – that type of reaction.

Like feminism, intersectionality is both a rich and complex field of study, and also quite simple: it is fairly obvious, for example, that on average Aboriginal women in Australia have it tougher than white women. We need to do better, and intersectionality can help us understand how we can do better.

This week's newsletter is dedicated to understanding the difference not just between but within gender. And for me personally the lesson here is not to assume that, because I share a gender with someone, I can know what their experience is like. As always: read, research, ask questions, listen.

– McKinley and the PG team

The world is complete and bee rebuilt by women.

February 18, 2019

PG #27 – From human centred to community centred

In the last two years we've grown from a team of 6 to a team of 16, and around us has grown a wonderful community of researchers, designers, clients and community groups working their utmost to make positive change in the world (including you, dear newsletter reader!)

Lately I've been thinking a lot about that word, 'community'. If the last two years has taught me anything, it's that true, lasting, systemic change does not and cannot happen in isolation. 'Human-centred 'design is not enough. While it's certainly a step up from designer-centred design, it still doesn’t allow for a proper accounting of the impact – positive and negative – of design on the wider society and world.

What we need, as we face truly complex challenges (global decarbonisation anyone?), is a community-centred and community-enabling form of design – one that de-centres the human and takes into account the wider systems of influence and change. Human-centred decisions got us to where we are, and only community-centred decisions will get us out.

So that’s Paper Giant's vision for the next two years: bigger picture, strategic, values driven, community-centric, systems-change focused. Let's imagine and enable radically different futures, together.

 — Reuben

More from the Paper Giant team in this fortnight's newsletter.

February 5, 2019

PG #26 – Deciding where to draw the line

Illustration of the Sydney opera house covered in sale stickers

In this fortnight's edition of the newsletter we take a look at when it's useful to draw lines between things, and when it isn't.

Happy drawing.

— the PG team

January 22, 2019

PG #25 – We’re in this together

Illustration of a puzzle being put together

Check out the latest edition of our newsletter.

Happy 2019 from all of us here at Paper Giant. We're in this together. 

— the PG team

December 18, 2018

PG #24 – Balancing the analytical with the intuitive

Stylised Paper Giant team and office illustration. Five stacked levels featuring Paper Giant staff completing different tasks.

Check out the last edition of our newsletter for 2018!

Wishing you a wonderful new year full of wonder and collaboration.

– the PG team

December 4, 2018

PG #23 – Closing the gap between intention and execution

Sitting man having a conversation with a man standing next to him.

Check out the latest edition of our newsletter.

From today, we're ditching the newsletter theme to start sharing the diverse things what we are are reading and thinking about at the moment.

We hope you enjoy!

– the PG team

November 20, 2018

PG #22 – What makes good research?

Man and woman sitting down having a discussion.

It's all about planning, participation and time.

Read all about the important ingredients of good research in the latest edition of our newsletter.

– the PG team


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Call: +61 (03) 9112 0514


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Paper Giant acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the lands on which our office is located, and the traditional owners of country on which we meet and work throughout Australia. We recognise that sovereignty over the land has never been ceded, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.