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The HHCD pathfinder projects are the easiest, yet impactful way to access our world-leading expertise in Inclusive Design, Design Thinking, and Creative Leadership to help you tackle an emergent need or an organisational challenge, access new markets, or spur innovation and creativity for your design and R&D teams.

Building on a 30-year legacy of people-centred innovation to diverse sectors across the globe, our team are skilled in working collaboratively to develop a bespoke engagement to fulfill your intention and organisation needs. Duration can vary from 3 days to three weeks to several months for a scoping study. Each project follows a standardised Design Thinking process (UK Design Council, 2005) and uses the range of Inclusive Design principles and methods of The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design.

In each collaboration, we value a multi-disciplinary approach and involve expertise from a range of disciplines. The projects are led by HHCD Director Rama Gheerawo and senior staff with over 50 years of collective experience in delivering inclusive design and innovation projects. Delivery teams are compiled of experienced HHCD researchers and designers, with a range of backgrounds, e.g., fashion technology, product, architecture, VR, service design and engineering among others. We also involve students from across the RCA for that extra spark of fresh creativity.

The sections below present a few models of engagement.

Design sprints

HHCD Design Sprint, 2018 (photo: Sarah Hibbert)

Design sprints are a rapid solution to develop a range of people-centred design ideas and prototypes, to open up new design directions, visionary thinking and opportunity areas for the organisation. Design sprints are highly customisable, versatile and creative modes of engagement. Ranging from three days to three weeks, these sprints combine people-centred innovation and creative leadership to deliver powerful potential outcomes.

This model was formalised based on delivery for a major Japanese company, with whom we ran bespoke innovation workshops since 2018, to look at how new technologies could be practically applied across a raft of real-life scenarios. We also incorporated an External Education component, to train over 30 staff members from internal design teams as ambassadors to transfer new knowledge across the organisation.

Short projects

Ageing in a Vertical City, 2017

These are short-term (3-6 months) intensive projects to address a range of design challenges identified by you, and produce design ideas and outcomes ranging from ‘blue-skies thinking’ to implementable solutions.

A blueprint for this engagement is a ten-week project, which HHCD ran in Hong Kong, combining a design challenge and long-term field trips to look at ageing and care homes within the skyscraper-filled context of Hong Kong. Students, academics, researchers and designers from diverse departments at Hong Kong Polytechnic University worked together with the Centre’s team to visit care homes, conduct research with older people and then create and co-create solutions around sleeping, eating and living – some of the most important activities of a person’s life, whatever their age.

The project resulted in the Ageing in a Vertical City exhibition which took place at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in November 2017. Read more about the Ageing in a Vertical City project and outcomes.

Scoping studies

Design and The Mind, 2018, Natasha Trotman

We partner with public, private and government organisations who are looking to scope a new research area, new audience, or user, group, or enter a new market. The aim is to inform future research and design practice, innovation, public engagement and outreach programs, as well as policy.

An example of this was Design and the Mind - a collaborative project with Wellcome Collection, which explored ways to address issues surrounding cognitive, physical and digital access to the Wellcome Hub and its resources for a variety of users, by framing this as an integral and positive part of design and research processes.

Collaborative USPs

  • Run a shorter engagement to ‘road test’ opportunities
  • Access to world-leading experts in Inclusive Design, Design Thinking and Creative Leadership research, theory and practice
  • Access to novel creative practices to understand customer needs, emotions and aspirations; gather insights and turn them into business value
  • Networking opportunities and access to leading international figures who consult on our research and projects, including anthropologists, sociologists, and scientists
  • Academic rigour and experience of running practical projects. HHCD has a track record of publications in high quality peer-review journals and conferences for wider academic and industry dissemination (at approval of the client)
  • Partnerships that last; many of HHCD shorter research projects lead to long-term collaborations and knowledge exchange partnerships.

Ask a question

Get in touch to find out more about partnering and collaboration

Email us at
[email protected]
HHCD Design Sprint, 2018 (photo: Sarah Hibbert)