Thanyawan Eamsonthi, Service Design, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2016 – 2018
For the past three years, Thanyawan Eamsonthi worked in the social enterprise sector in her native country Thailand. Her primary focus has been communications strategy, bringing important social issues to the attention of the general population and advocating change.
However, through her experience, Thanyawan realized that most campaigns only served so far as to create awareness of an issue – they did not create measurable change in larger society. Thanyawan came to believe that a more cohesive and carefully planned strategy was called for across the sector in order to deliver true social innovation.
In studying Service Design at the RCA, Thanyawan hopes to develop the experience and skills necessary to design systematic and efficient approaches to public policy that truly engage with the needs of the Thai people.
In Conversation with Thanyawan
Q: Can you briefly describe your experience in Service Design?
A: I worked in the social enterprise sector in Thailand for three years with the main focus of providing communication strategies, bringing important social issues to the attention of the general population and advocating change. As Service Design is all about designing people interaction towards any services, my source of inspiration for projects are the people I am designing for – their problems, their aspirations, their dreams, their better quality of life that could have been achieved if the services were designed to answer their needs.
Q: Walk us through some of your latest projects.
A: I have been working on three projects with organizations in London. The first project was with Young Lambeth Co-operative on creating a platform where voices of youth can be heard for the Co-operative. The second project was with Islington Council, focusing on how to tackle loneliness in older people. The third project was with the Royal Opera House on making opera and ballet more accessible and relevant to a new audience.
The main theme across my projects has been ways to empower target groups by creating social cohesion through digital and physical platforms. My way of design service looks at achieving the goal of making invisible target groups visible by creating a channel where their storytelling can be heard in a more meaningful way.
Q: That’s very interesting! How do you tell their stories?
A: I always start from understanding insights through secondary research from relevant organizations and and primary research by talking to people, observing, and walking through similar services that are already existing in real spaces. London is one of the best cities to carry out both of these practices as most of the services in its public spaces are designed for accessibility. I also learned a lot from exploring museums, theatres, parks, transportation and from joining events where experts from a wide range of fields are together.
Q: How has the RCA MA degree helped you develop your artistic practice? What are you most excited about in the coming year?
A: Service Design at the RCA is not merely designed to equip us with the tools to solve the challenges of today, but to also bring about a better future. In a future project, I would love to explore more about how to integrate the digital platform with real people interaction, and create a community that empowers people on a wider scale. Indeed at the RCA, being in an environment of like-minded designers tremendously broadens my perspective and helps me move forward in a more collective and meaningful way.