Garage design – Summary

Working with the garage owner to design a process to enable him to move towards retirement with the garage set up for a sustainable future.

People based designDesign Framework: design webDesign for a clientDesigned in a pair

Design period: July 2013 – May 2014

Client: Bill, the garage owner and fellow designer

Why is this design included?

This design has number of unique features in this portfolio. It is my first design for a paying client, it is my only design where I have worked with one other designer and it is a design for a business which is stretching the edges of the permaculture knowledge base.


To enable Bill to reduce his working hours and to start to shift the responsibility for the business to others, whilst ensuring the continued sustainability and success of the business.

Key learning

When working for a client be very clear on what my remit is and who I am responsible to.

Top tips

  •  If you stop part way through a process, make it clear to your future self where you got to
  • Visit the momentum anchor point fairly early on if you feel there is any chance the design process might falter
  • Make sure that you thoroughly explore and address limits, especially if people are an integral part of the design
  • If you are working for a client, be very clear who is responsible for what, don’t just assume

Design tools used

Design tools used

Skills practised

Skills practiced - garage


The aim for this design was inherently about Fair Shares, giving the employees at the garage opportunity to have a say in shaping their futures. Partly in recognition of the invaluable contribution they have made to the current success of the business. Interestingly the fact they have been given the opportunity and have not chosen to pursue it doesn’t mean that we haven’t achieved Fair Shares. In my definition of it Fair Shares involves equality of opportunity rather than literal equality of situation.

There was a big focus on Peoplecare in this design. Both during the design process and as part of the vision. The vision was around Bill’s need to reduce the energy he was putting into the Garage in order to have more time to put into other things he is passionate about, like his local community and permaculture.

During the design process our meetings always had Peoplecare considered for them, including tasty snack, plentiful tea and meeting outside when possible. I also spent quite a while considering the Peoplecare and Fair Shares for the employee meetings and included things like mini celebrations each time and techniques to try and ensure everyones voices could be heard. This was also achieved by the employee client interviews.

Some of the other designs we discussed before prioritising this one had much more of an Earthcare focus, but this one was primarily Peoplecare and Fair Shares.

I was also paid for my time put into this design in recognition of its contribution to the businesses development, which is some appreciated Fair Shares in my direction!


We considered 4 of Holmgrens Principles in this design.

  • Creatively use and respond to change
  • Integrate rather than segregate
  • Obtain and Yield
  • Produce no waste

We used them to generate more ideas and as a lens to look through to consider other ideas and aspect of the design.

Design Process

Design Process Diagram

Writing up and Evaluation

I have written up and evaluated this design now partly in order to put it into my diploma portfolio, but also because we have completed a design cycle and the context has changed so it seems a good time to evaluate.

I have included very little detail about the content of this design as it is confidential to the business and because it is actually not that useful. Pulling out the patterns and my learnings are more beneficial to myself in the future and for others to use.

My reflections have been primarily on the design process as this is where there have been big learnings.

Evaluation tools used

Evaluation tools used


I am very grateful for Bill Smith for asking me to get involved in this design and paying me for it. Although it has had its challenges it has been incredibly interesting and satisfying to be involved in such a potentially consequential design. It has also been a very interesting insight into the motor industry and organisational structures. I am also grateful to the Garage staff for joining in with the process.

I am grateful to all of the sources of knowledge we drew on as part of this design, including Steve Evison and the Employee Ownership Association. And my friends and family who let me talk and gave me advice.

I definitely appreciate all of my learnings and how I actively used the skills and knowledge that I had gained so far. I also appreciate that I took the time to reflect regularly and be true to myself in this process.

Now go to the full design write up.

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