Hi, I’m Andy Polaine. Since 1994 I have been an (mostly independent) interaction and service design consultant, writer, educator and researcher. I am currently Group Director for Client Evolution at the global design and innovation consultancy, Fjord.
Since 1994 I have worked on projects ranging from interactive media promoting Levi’s jeans to helping people with terminal cancer express how they feel, from re-thinking green transport solutions to re-designing the higher education experience. I help to make customer and employee experiences seamless, pleasurable, engaging, playful and valuable.
I work directly with clients who need help designing and innovating their user and service experiences, from insight to implementation. This includes design-led strategy through to helping clients build up their own multidisciplinary design and innovation teams, and getting them running quickly and smoothly.
Mentoring and Creative Coaching
I frequently work as a mentor for a team (or individuals) working on projects, giving external input and helping to push the creative thinking on a project into a different direction. Some projects need a divergent process to expand and explore unusual ideas and get the team out of a rut, other teams or projects are floating and too vague and need some help with focus and structure. This kind of mentoring is generally tightly focussed on a particular project or issue.
I have many years of experience planning and facilitating workshops. These often take the form of teaching a group new design methods and approaches, helping all stakeholders on a project generate and analyse insights, or kicking off change and innovation projects. Workshops can be for a small team of four or five people, but also for larger groups. I can handle up to around 40 people on my own and give enough attention to all. For larger groups, the help of assistant facilitators delivers a better experience.
I am a regular keynote speaker and presenter, both at conferences and at internal events. This can be useful for leadership to hear when trying to a get a project off the ground with a new approach and to give them a taste of design doing, not just design thinking. Many things look easier said than done.
Writing, Podcasting & Academia
Throughout my career I have found teaching to be the best way to learn and writing a powerful path to creative thinking. I co-wrote the book Service Design: from insight to implementation, published by Rosenfeld Media—now one of the standard texts for Service Design—and have written over 160 articles and papers over the years.
I’m a regular host on the Fjord Fika podcast and frequent guest on This is HCD among others. I write an irregular newsletter called Doctor’s Note that contains a mix of longer form essays and short musing on design, innovation, culture, technology and society. Some of it appears on Playpen, but you can sign up here to get it first.
Officially I’m Dr. Polaine. I wrote my PhD thesis about interactivity and play. Prior to my work at Fjord, I lead the MA Design specialisation in Service Design at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland. For more information on my academic life, writing and publications, take a look at the About Me section.
Over the years I have worked for many clients and international brands, either directly or with other agencies. Here are a few: BBC Worldwide, the ABC (Australia), The Science Museum, NatWest, Razorfish, the University of New South Wales, The Omnium Research Group, magneticNorth, Massive Interactive, Animal Logic, Poke, Alex Proyas, AstraZeneca, Norton Healthcare, Live|Work, RiverSimple, Levi Strauss & Co. (for which we won a D&AD Silver Pencil), VW Germany, Telenor, Three UK, Mobiliar and International Peacebuilding Advisory Team, the Australian Tax Office, the Department of Human Services, Telstra, Optus, Qantas, ANZ, QBE, and several others that I can’t publicly mention.