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Service design: “The public sector constitutes a promising outlet for designers”

Service design: “The public sector constitutes a promising outlet for designers”

Design in local government? The concept may be surprising but the virtues of a design-led approach in the renovation of public services and policies are becoming clearer by the day. To coincide with the publication of the joint work Design de service public en collectivité territoriale, le passage à l’acte (Public service design in local government: from theory to practice), we addressed three questions to Benoît Ferrandon, head of innovation for the Loire-Atlantique département and apprenticeship manager of Caroline Kermarrec, an apprentice designer who graduated in 2014.

Benoît Ferrandon, head of innovation for the Loire-Atlantique département designed by C. Kermarrec

The Loire-Atlantique département and L’École de design Nantes Atlantique have just co-produced the publication. What was the starting point of this project and why do you wish to put this partnership in the spotlight?

We wanted to explore new avenues for improving consumer services and anticipating the changing expectations of citizens with regard to public policy. Design seemed to be a promising avenue to explore. We had already worked together on Open Data and L’École de design was quick to see the local authorities as an ideal learning environment for its students. This partnership proved to be particularly relevant and we thought it constructive to share our experience with other authorities, but also with designers to show them that the public sector constitutes a promising outlet for their skills.

Design is a new practice in local government. How does it address the issues and changes taking place in public services?

Design has several obvious advantages when it comes to helping us rethink public services. I would mention three in particular: use-oriented analysis, the capacity to crystallize ideas put forward by both users and public officials in a visual manner, prototyping and iterative experimentation to come up with solutions. Until recently, these types of practice have not been sufficiently exploited in local government.

The publication documents two years of cooperation between the school and the département. In specific terms, what progress has been made in the départment’s areas of expertise over this period? And in particular, what difference has it made having an apprentice designer (Caroline Kermarrec) working in your departments?

We have been able to test new services in situ in the fields of interurban transport and Maternal and Infant Protection (PMI). We will soon be building a resource library in a secondary school based on the plans defined by Caroline Kermarrec which will then become part of the departmental benchmark covering all the secondary schools in Loire-Atlantique. In other words, the applications are very specific. And Caroline played a key role during this period in demystifying design within the local administration. Her commitment and her qualities as a designer were an invaluable lever for convincing our colleagues that design could help them in their day-to-day work.

Design de service public en collectivité locale, le passage à l’acte.
Publication co-produced  by the Loire-Atlantique Département and l’École de design Nantes Atlantique.
104 pages -12€ - La Documentation Française

The following members of staff from L’École de design Nantes Atlantique participated in the writing of the publication:
G. Cliquet, G. Guilloux, J. Le Bœuf, L. Neyssensas, F. Orsoni, E. Raillard
Graphic layout : Anne Delfaut for L’École de design