About us

Toi Āria is a public engagement centre helping organisations create and deliver people-centred policies and services. We operate in a unique niche within a university where our key motivation is to facilitate outcomes that prioritise the voice of those most affected. 

Toi Āria harnesses the power of design for public good.

Our position as part of a University design school means we are able to bring together leading design practitioners, policy makers and communities to work impartially and creatively towards common goals. We do this by bringing a design lens and a people-centric focus to social policy and public services. In particular, we make the voice of communities heard in the area of policy creation. 

Toi Āria: design for Public Good has become a leader in public sector innovation and through our work we are helping to make the sector more inclusive and effective. 

 
 
 
 
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Design-led

adjective
motivated or driven by design considerations

 
 

Public

adjective
of or concerning the people as a whole.
"public concern"

 
 
 

Good

noun
benefit or advantage to someone or something.
"she convinces her mother to use her  genius for the good of mankind"

Why design?

A  growing openness to data and public engagement has allowed the tools and skills of the designer, in particular their ability to facilitate, visually articulate and innovate, to be more effectively used in the public sector.

Our position as part of a University design school means we are able to bring together leading design practitioners, policy makers and communities to work impartially and creatively towards common goals. We do this by bringing a design lens and a people-centric focus to social policy and public services. In particular, we make the voice of the citizen heard in the area of policy creation.

Toi Āria: design for Public Good has become a leader in public sector innovation and through our work we are helping to make it more inclusive and effective.

 
 
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In Participatory Design the people destined to use the system play a critical role in designing it.

Schuler & Namioka 1993

 

How we work

Toi Āria works on strategies, policies and projects that strengthen the connection between organisations, government and communities, and we work with our partners to make design part of the everyday policy making process.

The strength of Toi Āria lies in its engagement with the public to ensure an evidence-based approach to policy and service design. In partnership with government, organisations, councils and universities, we work to radically transform approaches to strategy, policy and engagement at a systemic level. 

We use people-centred design because it is the most potent agent of positive social change. It prioritises  empathy, equality, collaboration, and is evidence-based and iterative, ensuring the needs of communities are met through the design process.

Toi Āria brings to policy-making, programmes and new initiatives a mechanism to provoke discussion and pose piercing questions; it enables the articulation of needs and provides diverse ways of reframing problems and opportunities.

We design ways for people to take part in the engagement process enjoyably, authentically and in such a way that their voices are heard and reflected.

 

Our services

  • Designing powerful conversations to help senior leaders and staff align and constantly adapt strategies for new futures.
  • Assisting with policy making, government initiatives, local innovation and public sector programmes by providing a bespoke mechanism to provoke discussion; enable the articulation of needs and provides diverse ways of reframing the ‘opportunity’.
  • Build and leverage IP (proprietary tools/processes) for the organisation.
  • Explore insights, future trends, and leading experts from related fields to push boundaries.
  • Align multi-stakeholder groups and/or senior leaders to develop a shared sense of purpose.
  • Turning desired futures into actions.
  • Crafting breakthrough propositions, services and experiences through human centred co-design to provide meaningful, relevant and fit for purpose services.
  • Proposition innovation by using customer-centred design to develop incremental and game-changing services that can transform the external performance of organisations.
  • Business Planning: design thinking process to lift planning out of the quagmire of budgets and wish lists to creative strategic thinking that is innovative and leads to actionable and aligned plans.
  • Public Insights: Generating quantitative and qualitative insights and data from tailor-made engagement programmes.
  • Meaningful and dynamic formats for engagement that can drive strategic innovation.
  • Creating new future ready organisations.
  • Mobilising organisations through systems co-design and intensive training in strategic thinking and design capabilities.
  • Building design thinking capacity with our partners.
  • Equip public servants/leaders with the skills and knowledge to develop policy and strategy in a more open, creative and user-centred way.
  • Finding the most effective way to stimulate and embed the transformative power of design thinking within the public sector, society and the wider economy.
  • Providing partners embedded and lasting structural change with behavioural and system transformation.
  • Organisational innovation: Radically redesigning the organisation’s systems, structures, and processes via co-design with users to help leaders successfully address efficiency and innovation needs and supercharge transformation efforts.
  • Creating bespoke training programs from foundation to masterclass levels that enable people to apply co-design, conversation, and customer centred-thinking in their work. Running leadership development for Executives in leading strategic innovation and sustainable change.
 
 
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The humbler the question you ask, the more heartfelt the answer you get. It's a fair exchange.

Andrew Tobin, Toi Āria Associate

Our name

Toi Āria meaning ‘Creative Rockpool’ encompasses the concept of multiple eco systems working together and responding to an ongoing changing environment for our communities.

Like water streaming into a tidal pool, design can transform spaces, places and lives.

A rockpool, or ‘tidal’ pool relates to the changing socio-political environment, and refers to the transformative potential of this new space within the public sector. 

Just as one might find a multiplicity of creatures in a rockpool, Toi Āria will mobilise diverse skills, people and voices to enable different perspectives, responses and push beyond the status quo.