Lecturers: Ian de Vere and Malte Wagenfeld 

Tuesday 9.30 – 12.30 – Online (V-Practical)
Thursday 9.30 – 12.30 – On Campus (045.01.005D)

The studio will focus on issues of safeness for workers in the gig economy. These workers who are typically paid per job/task are classed as independent contractors and often have minimal training nor access to safety or personal protection equipment. They are often under skilled for the task but need to work due to their personal financial situation. Migrant groups, culturally and linguistically diverse demographics, young people and international students are over-represented in this vulnerable workforce. Precarious work, fatigue and stress and hazardous environments and hours combined with employment/income uncertainty, a heavy workload with tight deadlines and the need to maintain high levels of availability contribute to an exploitive and hazardous workplace environment. Whilst road and traffic related injuries and deaths have been extensively reported, research has also highlighted additional harms including physical assault, intimidation, and verbal abuse.

This studio is part of a global collaboration between RMIT Design, Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) and Kingston University London. Each institution will run their own projects within the theme ‘Design for Care’ but there will be opportunities for cross-over activities including virtual joint-crits between matched studios and an international exhibition of all outcomes later in the year.

In this studio, students will address safeness concerns regarding the delivery of food within urban environments including training, safety equipment, infrastructure and service and support solutions.  It is expected that design solutions may be a combination of product, communication, service, and or systems outcomes, but projects must deliver tangible and achievable benefits to stakeholders in response to the problem; empowering and protecting the gig worker.  

The industry partners for the project are WorkSafe Victoria and the City of Melbourne

The studio will be facilitated by the Safeness by Design team at RMIT University who have run urban safeness projects in Melbourne and Barcelona in 2019/2020. Safeness by Design, an initiative emerging from RMIT University, aims to enhance health, wellbeing and social values by using design to achieve actual and evident safeness across a broad range of environment and contexts.  

Learning Experience  

  1. Understand a ‘real world’ approach to research and design through working with government organisations to address real world problems
  2. Develop a cross disciplinary approach to achieving tangible and achievable safeness benefits for vulnerable urban workers
  3. Use human centred design and ethnographic research processes to inform external partners and make appropriate recommendations

Capabilities Developed

Human Centered Design, user interaction, design research methods, design in the wild