March 29, 2019

#MDW19 – Fit your own oxygen mask first

Last week was a big week for the studio. We hosted four major events – with three included in the NGV’s Melbourne Design Week programme – and had over 300 people through the doors. Looking back on it, there’s still a lot to digest, but in the meantime, here are a few quick thoughts and some highlights from our panel discussion – Communities of Care.

There’s more to care and community than a dedicated day for checking in on those around you, or even a week of events hosted by your friendly neighbourhood Paper Giants. As co-facilitator Jaskaran Singh Bawa rightfully pointed out on Tuesday night, it’s about continuing a conversation.

Panelist Lina Patel was quick to add an important dimension, namely that “Caring is a learned skill. It's not that some of us are great of it and some aren’t – some of us are just more practiced.”

With those two things in mind, we want to thank everyone who took part in our collection of events last week, from making worlds to Making Sense, and from bringing people into the design process and caring for them while they’re here.

We've got a lot to think about as the year continues to ramp up, including the responsibility we have to care for our communities, our peers and each other.

However, Leander Kreltszheim might have given us all our first step with the timely advice, “Please remember to fit your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

We’ll be sitting with these thoughts over the next few months, and we invite you to join us the next time we get together to talk about design and our roles as designers in the world. Email us if you want to chat, or sign up to our newsletter and we’ll let you know what’s on.

– Ryley Lawson

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 14, 2019

We’re open for Melbourne Design Week

With even Dieter Rams admitting his relentless pursuit of form and function contributed to the world’s overconsumption – the time is now to consider and evaluate design from all viewpoints.

Melbourne Design Week offers Melbourne’s growing design community a chance to celebrate their achievements but also to reflect on how and why we do the work that we do. This year’s theme raises the question: if design is shaping the future, is it the best possible future, and for whom?

This theme opened up some interesting questions for the team at Paper Giant – our response was to focus on care, and how care affects the ways we are able to shape futures through design.

So this year we’re preparing to open our doors to over 300 people – from practitioners to passers-by – by hosting and running 5 events between the 14th and 22nd of March.

Three of those events are part of the programme, one is a session being run by us free of charge for individuals in the public and not–for–profit sectors and one is on the other side of the globe.

All of them are about us creating the room and space to talk to each other, to care for each other and to support the design community as a whole to take responsibility for the futures we create through our work.


18 March
Wonderlab – The Worlds We Live In – MDW

19 March
Communities of Care – MDW

20 March
Co-Design for Social Innovation

21-24 March
Making Space presents Making Sense – MDW

22 March – Systems Change Chats


It’s a busy week for us but to borrow words shared by Matt Wicking:

"We meet at a time when the human species is having an unprecedented impact on the planet."
"...the discussions we have here, the decisions we make and any actions we take as a result will have consequences for other people and other species - both those living now as well as future generations."

We remind ourselves of this when we host our communities, and Paper Giant, for one, is optimistic about the power of conversation and the ability of design to shape prosperous futures for everyone.

And we hope that you’ll join us.

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 24, 2019

Co-design for Social Innovation Workshop – 20th March, Melbourne

Illustration of eight people working together to build a framework

When some people talk about innovation, they talk about failing fast and failing often – an approach that many organisations simply cannot afford to take. Co-design is a method those in the public sector can use to create meaningful solutions to complex problems, without the gung-ho attitude.

Join us on March 20 for a free workshop at the Paper Giant office in Melbourne, where we’ll introduce the principles of co-design and provide some practical tools and case studies to inspire you

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

February 1, 2019

Design Research Training – 20th–21st June, Melbourne

Design Research for Service and Product Innovation

Workshop participants in conversation.

Design Research provides the tools designers need to study the ways we live, work and play.

Melbourne practitioners – are you looking to expand your design research skills? We're running our Design Research for Service and Product Innovation Training on 20-21 June 2019.

Join us for a two-day workshop that will introduce you to the tools and methods of ethnography – the foundation of design research. It will give you a mix of theory and practical experience that you can directly apply to your design and research projects.

More info & tickets

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


If you're interested in working with us, just get in touch.

Call Chris Marmo: +61 414 436 829


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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.