The London Community Architect: Carl Turner

It may surprise you that, although the London-based architect Carl Turner is decorated by many achievements and successes, he had to sell his property to pursue his dream and, even nowadays, earns only as much to cover his comfortable lifestyle. A man who gives back to people and supports their development, an artist involved in numerous projects all with the same purpose: the environmental protection and the giving back to the community. During his talk at our university, Carl Turner explained what is his Sculptural Way of Looking and how got to where he is today.

Carl received an MA in Architecture and Urban Design at the Royal College of Art (RCA) where he adopted his hands-on approach and a passion for designing. Inspired by the works of Damien Hirst, Carl’s interest in crafts developed into skills which he applied to building his own house and various renovation projects. He describes the period he spent at university as the only moment when he had time to realize what he enjoys doing and to identify his passions, before focusing on how to establish his career and how to keep his practice going on an everyday basis.

During his talk, Carl focused on the importance of collaborations, which he experienced with RCA tutors, graffiti artists, illustrators and others. His team has tripled in size over the last year and would have grown much more if only they had the space. How absurd, you may think, for people who design houses for living, not to have enough space to work in. Well, this is London for you, my dear! However, Carl Turner Architects do not seem to be struggling with innovative ideas, so surely even this challenge will soon be overcome.

Carl’s approach is very patient and focused on long-term goals, such as building a reputation or awakening talents across Europe. Carl’s practice won a competition for a low-budget installation in Lisbon (MUDE) which was dealing with (teeny-tiny) housing spaces and literally slicing up buildings and furniture into easily-transportable blocks and pieces. His aim is to provoke a conversation and to receive feedback he can build onto.

Through his great passion, the social architecture, he has been able not only to address crucial issues (housing, environment, sustainability), but also helped promote growth in remote areas. Carl’s mindfulness is reflected by the limited number of hours he spends working and the emphasis he puts on the long-term impact of his projects (public gardens, sites for farmers’ markets, dance studios, workshops etc.).

Understanding context and participating locally are the top two priorities when it comes to planning and facilitating a project. Over the years, CT-Architects has not only designed some of the most beloved meeting spots in London, but also taken part in many competitions with the aim of discussing some unique ideas from different perspectives.

The trademark of the CT-Architects could be the containers. Similar to the ones used at this year’s Lisbon Triennale Pavilion (more on:, see bibliography). First installed by volunteers at the Hackney City Farm and then installed as the main building material of the PopBrixton, they fit perfectly into the image of the sustainable production. At Hackney Farm Carl experienced for the first time the real hands-off approach which so many people often (wrongly) associate with their profession. The practice, however, usually does the exact opposite and gets involved as much as money and time allow.

Following his instincts and fighting for a good cause has been Carl’s bread and butter. Thus, he bought and converted an abandoned barn and converted it into a guesthouse, using his signature ecological processes and creating various zones there. He believes that “if you wish to innovate, you have to be different” and must carry on when others tell you to stop. Such was the scenario with Brixton where Carl could spot the area’s potential and develop it long before the first hipsters started arriving.

It all, however, began with the Slip House which reminds of three different blocks piled up on top of each other like bricks. The sections allow a clear separation between individual parts of the house as well as the purposes they are used for. Yet it creates a beautifully compact space which satisfies the needs of both, family as well as work.

Today, more than ever, the need to innovate and address wider issues which they do. Many minds have been blown away by the transferability of Pop Brixton and there is so much more to come as people become more aware of their actions and pursue more conscious lifestyles. Carl Turner got us thinking about how can we, ourselves, contribute to the community we live in, and his talk only resonated the well-known fact that if you try hard enough, anything is possible.

Written by: Gabriella Ditt, DMC 2019. 



Mairs, J., 2016. Architects question authorship with Lisbon Triennale pavilion [Online]. Poole: Dezeen. Available from:[Accessed: 10/11/2016]

You can find Gabriella’s blog hereHere 


Good Design

The question ‘what is good design’ is one of those that seem incredibly easy to answer but turns out to be surprisingly difficult to answer correctly. The more one thinks about it, the more the answer they are likely to obtain becomes complicated. Good design does not only have different meanings to different people, but its meaning also tends to change at different times depending on the contexts in question. The shared view on the subject matter is that good design is one that can fulfil its functions effectively. In the real world, there are great examples of ‘good design’. Kindle is a good example except for the fact that the execution of its design is poor. Some of the weaknesses include the accidental operation of buttons which frequently happens and the fact that is uncomfortable to hold, which is an appalling idea for a book. Good design must be efficient. Having an inefficient design has bad consequences. For instance, for a company dealing in the provision, distribution, or even manufacture of pharmaceuticals and prescription pills. Having an inefficient design may lead to the poor marking of prescription bottles. It goes without saying that the consequences of such a mistake will be terrible, to say the least. The solution to such situations is the development of an excellent design which will ensure that flaws like this one are eliminated, and the risks on the market are reduced. Nonetheless, while efficiency is an important aspect of good design, it is not enough. In the implementation of design, it is vital to take into consideration all the parties involved. Good design must have aesthetic value. A genuine definition of a good design is one that is not only graceful but elegant and appealing as well as put forward by one of the ‘Good Design ’principles of Dieter Rams (Rams, D., Ueki-Polet, K. and Klemp, K. 2009). Moreover, sustainability is equally vital. Bad designs are likely to offer unrealistic frameworks that are undoubtedly unsustainable in the long run. Good design seeks to offer not only reasonable frameworks but also provide sustainable solutions to problems.

Written by: Caterina Pomari, DMC 2018. 



Rams, D., Ueki-Polet, K. and Klemp, K. (2009). Less and more. Berlin: Gestalten.


Design as a Process

Due to the fact there are many applications of design in the current world, people tend to take different standing points when defining the term design. According to Kathryn Best, design comprises both the process of making something, and the final product of this process; which is the design itself (Best 2006). For many practitioners, Design is the intuitive and creative process, by which one can formulate and realises practical solutions that meet the needs of the markets and create reasonable value for whichever business.

In this sense, Design is a series of events and activities that only fits best the description of a process. The flexibility of Design reflects its trait as a process since this is meant to meet the needs of both the organisation and other parties involved like customers. User-centered design, for instance, is by nature one of the iterative processes involved in the creation of Designs. What one discovers through usability testing and user research is often used as the benchmark to how the project should proceed. It is important to note that design it is an ever evolving process and not a fixed statute that must be followed. This is unlike theories put forward that present design as a methodology rather than a process. This would bring a direct implication that design is neither flexible nor adaptable, rather what one would call a ‘fixed recipe’ that one must follow if they would like their business process to be a success. This is all the more reason for it to be referred to as a process even though there is the need once in a while for improvisation in the design projects. Nonetheless, the achievement of optimal design solutions requires the incorporation of effective design processes that provide high-quality frameworks within which the designers can consistently produce high quality (Bordens and Abbott, 2005).

Written by: Caterina Pomari, DMC 2018.



Best, K. (2006). Design management. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia.

Bordens, K.S., Abbott, B.B., 2005. Research and Design Methods: A Process Approach. McGraw-Hill.


The Value of Design Management

‘Design Management is a leadership role, one that requires explaining, inspiring, persuading and demonstrating how design can positively contribute to an organisation in many different ways.’ Kathryn Best, 2006

Design, as a communication channel, is a constitutive characteristic of any kind of organisation, it is ‘intrinsically linked to business in a way that both can add and create value’ (Best, 2006). Therefore, in order to properly use this powerful tool, an organisation needs a person with leadership skills the design process: the design manager.

In order for design to be effective, it is essential for design managers to have a good understanding of the marketing strategy, the financial position, the philosophy and the goals of the company and of how design can strategically play for their business in order, to achieve successful outcomes.

When it comes to business, the most important keywords to remind are: purpose, people and profit. Designers’ aim is to translate aesthetic into functionality by giving to their creativity a specific purpose or use. Companies or clients work in order to obtain a profit from the products realised by the designers. The design managers mediate between these figures by engaging and acting collaboratively with all the aspects and people of the design process, generating an action plan and continuously measuring the work and the performance (Reifi and Emmitt, 2012).

Design management is focused on the people producing but also enjoying the products (the consumers) that a company offers into the market. Although, this discipline is not only about the outcomes of a business but has the responsibility of assisting especially the early stages of the production process.

The presence of a design manager within a company can contribute to extend a vision or an idea to its maximum potential by making it innovative and marketable at the same time. The design manager must represent the identity of the company he/she is working for and elaborate strategies to enrich it. This role is in charge of taking part of the realisation of the product’s prototype, which needs to be an exact representation of the identity, the budget and the aims of the company, as well as taking part of the advertising, marketing and finally retail processes, as he must have a perfect notion of the values of the company and the needs of the consumers.

In a world that becomes more competitive every day and in which the creative industries are rapidly growing ‘as one of the best ways to increase competitive advantage between commercial companies and even entire countries’ (Best, 2010), there is the need for designers to work alongside more specialised figures with a wider understanding of the sector.

Design managers are problem solvers. Managing design can create and add a positive value not only to a company but to the entire world by operating toward the solutions of some of the biggest challenges of our society such as environmental, social and humanitarian issues. Design, with the help of design managers, can use ‘technology as a transformation tool’ (Best, 2006) to improve the world we live in.

Written by: Beatrice Bekar, DMC 2018.



Best, K. (2006). Design management. Managing design strategy, process and implementation. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia, pp.: 6-7, 12, 16-18.

Best, K. (2010). The fundamentals of design management. Lausanne: AVA Academia, pp.: 8-9.

El. Reifi, M. and Emmitt, S. (2013). Perceptions of lean design management. Architectural Engineering and Design Management, 9(3), pp.195-208.


Design Management and Manufacturing

While setting its philosophy or approach, it is fundamental for a manufacturing company to decide whether to focus on the product itself or on the process of its production. By choosing to focus on the process, rather than just on the final product, a company chooses quality before quantity.

In manufacturing, as well as in other types of companies, the design management department assumes a vital role. The quest for quality should be developed by companies through the help of design managers, whose duty is to ensure that all the departments, that work within an organisation, are proceeding toward the same goal and that the transmission of the instructions among the sectors is carried clearly. Design management adds value not only to the company, by helping in the development of ‘products and services that the customers will perceive as superior’, but also to ‘the customers, by informing them about the product’s attributes’ and by making them directly involved in the process (Borja De Mozota, 2003).

Inside a manufacturing industry, the role of the design management department should also be, therefore, about reducing complexity by translating it into simplicity, ensuring good communication, developing effective strategies and problem solving.

A successful manufacturing strategy is, for example, the Toyota Production System (TPS). The system, developed by Taiichi Ohno in the first half of 20th century, is the core on which Lean Management is based. The system, which make the Toyota company internationally recognised for its success, is possible thanks to figures like the design managers.

TPS’s philosophy is essentially based on: eliminating waste, always improving the system and working from the client’s perspective.

A student of Thaiichi Ohno once said: “We at Toyota made a mistake. We should never called it the Toyota Production System, we should have called it the Toyota Thinking System. Because the real point is to make people think and people are the value of the system”.

As explained by Soliman in his essay, the TPS is focused not only on the process of creation but especially on people, which are the measurement by which changes and improvements can be planned and achieved. By talking about ‘people’, TPS means both customers and employees; many companies, in fact, make the mistake of developing their systems and technologies without also developing, training and coaching their people which are the only real ‘foundation of the continuous improvement’.

The system has the property of being able to be customised and adapted depending on the environment in which it’s used. TPS philosophy is also based on two Japanese words: ‘kata’, which stands for ‘way of doing it’ or ‘series of practice moves to build on form and technique’ (Soliman, 2015); and ‘jidoka’ which means ‘automation’ and represents a quality control process. This last term is a principle that ensures the construction, and not the inspection, of quality. TPS goal is to make it right at the first time by primarily developing a strategy for excellence that involves people, safety, people morale, costs, productivity and, of course, quality.

The key for making a difference is to work with people and for people in the prospect of distributing quality and not quantity. Design and manufacturing’s future won’t be about products but about systems in which human beings will eventually stop just producing and start thinking.

Written by: Beatrice Bekar, DMC 2018. 

  • Borja de Mozota, B. (2003). Design management. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
  • Bruce, M. and Bessant, J. (2002). Design in business. Harlow, England: Financial Times/Prentice Hallm. pp. 16-23.
  • Soliman, M. (2015). What’s Toyota Production System Really About?. 1st ed. Cairo: The American University in Cairo.

The Elephant Artwork’s

The Heygate Estate, is a brutalist building from the 1970s in the district of Elephant & Castle, was home to more than three thousand people until it was included, in 2014, in the ambitious regeneration project of the area which leads to the building’s demolition.
The Elephant & Castle Project, designed by the organisation Lend Lease in collaboration with the Southwark Council aims to re-brand the district into a more human-sized, sustainable and desirable area to satisfy the ‘zone 1’ requisites.

‘Elephant & Castle is a place where people just travel through; the program wants to make the area a place in which people want to stay. […] The 1960s architecture, the roundabouts and the unappealing subways are starting to be wiped away to create a new destination in which to live, work and play’ (35% Campaign, 2012 cited in Southwark Notes, 2013).
From the demolition of the Heygate Estate, an exciting hub of pop-up stores and start-ups called the Artworks had been launched in 2014.
Similarly to Shoreditch’s Boxpark, the c village, comprising of 39 brightly coloured shipping containers deriving from the former estate and arranged over three floors, includes a variety of amenities. By offering a low-cost business and retail space, the hub brings a good concentration of creative businesses and independent artists. ‘The aim is to provide not just an office but an entire ecosystem providing a destination and an experience that is flexible, collaborative and fun’ (The Artworks, 2015).

The shipping containers at the Heygate Estate, witing to be plugged in. The Artworks, 2013

Fiona Colley, member for regeneration at Southwark Council, claimed: ‘The idea of the interim uses and creative projects in and around Elephant & Castle is to make sure that Walworth continues to thrive during substantial change, especially while the demolition and construction work takes place. Walworth is already a popular area for artists and students in the creative industries and is a hub for small businesses and independent retail. Artworks will provide temporary space for more of these types of business and support our drive to boost the local economy’ (Southwark Notes, 2013).


Although exciting many are the contradictions concerning not only the Artworks project but also the whole regeneration program. The ‘regeneration’ of the Heygate Estate has brought, in fact, to the demolition of 1,200 council houses and the re-building of only 71 new ones. ‘With private rental being unaffordable for so many, it’s pretty head-smackingly obvious that regeneration, in this instance, means social cleansing’ (Hancox, 2014).

Written by: Beatrice Bekar, DMC 2018. 



Stella Adamidou

I am a creative hands-on person with an interest in design and education. In the future, I can see myself working in the education field as I would love to teach. I think that is important to encourage creativity and creative thinking within education and inspire young people to do their best in their own way. Therefore, my project reflects this belief and encourages learning through an alternative and fun way.

Stella has combined her interest in design, education & geography through the development of the board game GeoGenius. The game aims to raise international & cultural awareness among children and adults, making the players learn geography without even realising it.

Game Description:

Players move around the game board, taking turns answering trivia questions about the countries of Europe and attempting to correctly place the countries and capital cities of Europe. In order to win, you have to collect one card from each difficulty level, by means of correctly answering the questions and correctly placing the countries or capital cities.


GeoGenius is a family friendly geography board game for children aged ten and above. It is an educational board game that will make the players learn geography without even realising it. Players have fun by answering geography trivia questions and placing countries and capital cities of Europe. We believe in general geography knowledge, fun and alternative education. Our aim is to raise international and cultural awareness among children and adults and make our world a better place.



Rebecca Kassab

I am a multidisciplinary designer and social researcher who uses design tools to address social, business and environmental issues. Being brought by Syrian-Lebanese parents in a South American country helped me to develop adaptability and high empathic skills. Most of my projects evolve around social innovation, considering how design tools can create social impact into improving people’s lives. I combine trend forecasting, marketing, design thinking and service design tools in order to deliver possible solutions to society’s issues.

Knowledge and skills gathered by senior citizens throughout their lives are often misused by society and government. Those laters tend to exclude older people from employability and other socioeconomic activities. Besides, pension funds are shirking, making older citizens in seek for financial support. Demographics play a big role in this issue because society is exponentially ageing, meaning that the participation of elders in the workforce will be each time more relevant and even needed. Along these lines, as older citizens have a lot of spare time on their hands and don’t have enough activities, creating a sense of lack of purpose.

About your project:

Olderpreneurs: Maturing the workplace

This project’s aim is to explore how older citizens can initiate new businesses and careers while generating mental, social and financial benefits for themselves. Considering that society will only get older, we should investigate how the later years can be as meaningful and enjoyable as the previous ones, if not more. Retired senior citizens normally lose many of their social connections, have to deal with loneliness, which directly affects their wellbeing and sense of purpose in life. As the Government is cutting pensions, older citizens also have to worry about alternative ways to support themselves. In this way, entrepreneurship seemed to be a great way to tackle issues that older citizens go through while generating something that is valuable to both them and the population in general. Thus, I have decided to name this project ‘Olderpreneurs’. Olderpreneurs are not only those seeking to start their own business but also those who want to explore employability later in life. We can no longer afford to socially and economically underestimate senior citizens but rather redefine and redesign what being aged really means by reshaping jobs and opportunities for later life.

The project aims to explore how older citizens could initiate new business and careers while generating mental, social and financial benefits. After a lot of research developed with seniors in the ‘Employability Club’ (Age UK East London), the outcomes of this project are a campaign, a networking website and a toolkit.




Ola Knopek

We are, all of us, makers. Or, perhaps, I should say, we are all able to make: we grow, raise and cook our food, we create solutions to problems, we fix things when they are broken. Hence, we can all create things, and shape the world around us. Unfortunately, not everyone believes in their making and/or creating abilities.There are many factors influencing that assumption. I would like to change that belief with my research and engage more people into making.

Personally, from the moment the idea is conceived, then the process of making it tangible is one of the most profound experiences I can have. It’s something I want to share with others.

In my research, I am exploring the future of craft and making. I am looking particularly at ways of democratising making, as well as collaborative innovation and social engagement opportunities.

I proposed three different outcomes and incorporated them in my process book.

The statement about the project:

Project Title: Make Much

In today’s world, the necessity is not the mother of all invention anymore. Today, we can buy, easily and cheaply, anything we need; and with the same nonchalance, we can also throw away those very same items. Technology development has widened the gap between the maker and the user to such a degree that people no longer have even the most basic understanding of how products are made. This leads to a limited appreciation for the handmade. This ignorance, however, is not, for me, the biggest problem. What actually worries me more is the fact that people barely care where items they buy come from, or if they are ethically made. My research proves it. Also, as nowadays people can buy anything,  they can, or cannot imagine making anything by themselves.

Ngoc Trieu

Ngoc Trieu grew up in Hanoi, the lovely ancient capital of Vietnam. She is a design manager, photographer and researcher. Her research areas of interest include Psychogeography, Social Design, Design Cultures and Design Histories. When she isn’t busy brainstorming ideas to solve a problem, she loves doing Kendo (Japanese sword fighting), reading, hiking in the woods, contemplating the moon, taking pictures of friends when they don’t notice, composing haikus and having good conversations over coffee.

About your project:

‘Mapping Hanoi Old Quarter’; is a design research project initiated by Ngoc Trieu as her final major project on the BA (Hons) Design Management & Cultures course at London College of Communication. 

By employing the Design Thinking process and a human-centered approach to creative problem-solving, the project aims to discover and ‘map’ the relationship of objects and practices with their cultural and historical background. While essentially questioning their importance to the development of heritage preservation and urban experience in the Old Quarter.

‘Mapping’, in this context, means to reveal the quintessence of Vietnamese art, design & culture that aren’t immediately visible to the casual observer or tourist.

The statement about the project:

Mapping Hanoi Old Quarter is a city app that takes visitors on a playful urban adventure. By employing creative storytelling methods, it allows visitors to explore the cultural and heritage values of Hanoi Old Quarter once hidden underneath the boredom of everyday life’s modernity.