Design your Death: A Portable R&D Demo Evening
It’s not often that you get to see what goes on behind the closed doors of a design consultancy. But Portable is no ordinary design consultancy. For a start they are based in Collingwood, which automatically gives them a gold star – my old neighbourhood was a just a hop, skip and a jump across Hoddle St. Secondly, I’ve heard them say that in their early days they aspired to be a kind of Australian IDEO — and doesn’t everyone love IDEO.
I’ve been to a few of their breakfast and evening talks and they are always (a) fantastic, (b) completely packed – standing room only. I first heard about Portable through fellow RHoK buddy and adopted design mentor Zen Tim. He’s possibly the most chilled out and thoughtful person (in the philosophical sense of the word) I know. The first time I visited Portable was back in May 2018. Jason Hendry (Partner & Creative Technologist) gave an excellent talk about how they are using a human-centred design approach to building machine learning tools. More recently I heard Joe Sciglitano (Design Lead) talk about empathy in design and what to do with it. Both talks have been brilliant, and since then I’ve been reading through all their design reports (you can check them out here). Needless to say I knew that their R&D Demo Evening would likely be a pretty special event. I wasn’t disappointed.
I had a great time chatting to Portable and non-Portable folks about all things death and ageing and cancer. I also managed to pick a few Portable brains about tech for social good and the value of working at the intersection of data science and design research – thanks for indulging me Tam Ho.
We were invited to test out and provide feedback on the four prototypes they’ve been developing over the past year. It was a such a privilege to talk to their designers about their though processes, what they define as a success, and to hear more about their plans moving forward. Sarah Kaur (Partner & Chief Operations Officer) then launched their most recent report: The Future of Death & Ageing – 81 pages and 17MB of design goodness.
The highlight of the night was catching up with the lovely Martina Clark, founder of Carers Couch (@carerscouch) – I have no doubt her app will be an amazingly good resource for cancer carers. I also meet Sally Coldham, founder of Airloom (@AirloomSocial) and a She Starts alum, who is also doing amazing work in this space.
An all round fantastic night talking about all things data and design.