Designing a brighter future for businesses

  • Published: 14 Aug 2019

We spoke to Design for Business student Debalina Bera about her internship with organisation humanKINDER, which she’s done as her third semester placement…

As our only programme at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design that isn’t strictly a ‘making’ course, the third semester of term is a little bit different for our MSc Design for Business students. Students undertake their final project in the context of studio research or through a placement in a business or organisation, which they then present the results of at the Masters Show. We caught up with current Design for Business student Debalina Bera to talk about her internship at humanKINDER…

“For my third year placement on the Design for Business course I’m working with an organisation called humanKINDER, which works with displaced communities. My placement there came about through the EAD Conference 2019, an international design conference that was hosted by the University earlier this year. The founder of humanKINDER, Emma Barrett Palmer, was one of the keynote speakers at the event. I went up to congratulate her after her speech and we just hit it off. I wanted to help in some capacity and so I asked if I could intern with humanKINDER, and it’s just gone from there.

“Emma has been travelling around Europe for the last two years with her project The Welcome Tent, which evolved through her experience working in the Calais ‘jungle’ in 2015. The tent is an ex-army catering tent and Emma, her husband and her son travel around Europe and collaborate with food and design festivals and not-for-profit organisations to provide this service and experience for displaced communities. It’s a place where people can come together and make friendship over food.

“My role as a designer has been to make sure that this concept is connected to a methodology; I need to strategise the idea of The Welcome Tent, identify the USPs, and work out what the opportunities there are. Essentially, I needed to be the ‘head’ of the business, while Emma is the ‘heart’.

“Doing user-centred research is essential for designers to find out what people actually want from your business. It was through a design workshop that we did in Glasgow, where we were prototyping the concept of bringing The Welcome Tent to the UK, that this became clear. When we spoke to people in the workshop they told us that having a physical presence [in the form of a permanent office space] was really important to them; if people are going to come back and use the service, they need to know you’re going to be there. humanKINDER doesn’t have an office base at this moment, and that immediately told us that this was something we needed to look into.

“Techniques that we’ve learned on the course, such as journey mapping, are also really important. As I hadn’t been to The Welcome Tent before we did this whole journey mapping, scenario mapping of what happens when a user enters the tent. Emma guided me through that by drawing out what happened, and at every stage we identified a business possibility. For example, we found out that there is no means of providing feedback on the experience at the moment, so we had no idea what people enjoyed and what they’d want to change. If we have that information, we can use that as an opportunity to take the business forward; that’s what design thinking is all about.

“As designers, the important question is why is something happening, rather than what or how itis happening. Once we scale down the ‘whys’, then we know what we want and then the question is: how do we do that? That’s how it works in my mind at least.”

You can read more about Debalina’s project here. Interested in the MSc in Design for Business? You can find out more about our MSc in Design for Business course here.

“My role as a designer has been to make sure that this concept is connected to a methodology; I need to strategise the idea of The Welcome Tent, identify the USPs, and work out what the opportunities there are. Essentially, I needed to be the ‘head’ of the business, while Emma is the ‘heart’.

Debalina Bera, Design for Business student