Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation briefs Think Public to provide design support to social projects

London- and Lisbon-based charity the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has commissioned Think Public to provide design support for a number of upcoming social projects.

Think Public’s design package will be provided as part of the ageing and social cohesion programme Inter Generation All, which is currently seeking proposals.

Inter Generation All provides up to £30 000 of funding to projects tackling environmental, intercultural and isolation issues, and includes a range of age groups.

Andrew Barnett, director of the UK branch of the foundation, says, ’We’re looking for half-baked ideas rather than fully baked ones. We can then co-develop them to enhance quality and ambition.’

During workshops in May and June, and mentoring throughout the first half of the year-long project, Think Public will help selected projects hone the ideas, which will include discussing branding and Web presence. The design strategy is intended to increase the projects’ reach, lifespan and effectiveness.

Think Public’s head of design Paul Thurston says, ’The general approach for charities is to set up a pilot project straight away, but a design-led [strategy] encourages charities to involve their members more, make a prototype and test it.’

Think Public was commissioned in November 2009 in response to a tender put out by the CGF. Initially, the consultancy was tasked with creating a new way to attract proposals and responded with the Inter Generation All website, which launched at the end of February.

Instead of a simple text document, as with last year’s site, the call for ideas features multimedia elements, such as a video interview with the foundation’s director. It will be live for five weeks until the deadline for applications on 26 March.

After the deadline, 25 projects from the UK and the same number from Portugal will be shortlisted and invited to submit more formal applications; 18 projects will then be awarded funding and the design package.

Barnett says, ’We need to see beyond design as simply being about visuals, and see it as more about developing concepts in a wider sense.’


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