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DDW20 Ambassador: Sean Carney

22 October 2020

©Gijs Kast
Sean Carney is responsible for Experience Design and Healthcare Transformation Services at Philips, Lidewij Edelkoort, the world's leading trend forecaster, and international designer Sabine Marcelis.

The three ambassadors of DDW 2020 represent the breadth of expertise across the current design paradigm. From different disciplines and backgrounds, they use their role to inspire, to make us look at things differently, and to emphasize that the creativity of designers is, perhaps more valuable than ever, in coming up with solutions to social issues. Sean Carney speaks almost like an activist, with a call to arms for designers.
If anyone believes in the power of design, it is Sean Carney. He said exactly one year ago when he took office as a fresh ambassador for DDW: "When we bring together the best and brightest designers from our creative community in multidisciplinary teams, we have a superpower to work together on solutions to the problems we face around the world: whether it be climate change causing storms in France and forest fires in America, to completely redefining and reforming healthcare. I look forward to demonstrating the power of design that can help make healthcare more accessible and sustainable in the future".
During his keynote for DDW20 on 17 October, he reiterated his words with a call to action, a call to arms: "Now that the world is facing some of the biggest and most complex challenges in healthcare, designers can and should take steps to shape the world in which we all live with a goal-oriented approach and applicable knowledge. They have the potential to come up with solutions to fundamental global problems. "The era of Star designers and 'Starchitects' is over. The future is more focused on 'collective power of design'.

“Designers team up and get ready to get your hands dirty,” he calls out to them. The global design community and companies can inspire each other and bring solutions to the market that make our society function better. In a world where the loudest people often get the most, designers need to stand up for those who don't have a voice. Healthcare must be accessible to everyone and not just the privileged in this world.
But how do you do that? Sean: “Feed our creative minds, put a spotlight on the ideas and stories of our future design talents, and inspire and learn from each other,” he says. He has practiced this himself in sponsoring and being on the jury of the 2020 Student Service Design Challenge for which designers from all over the world participated. The challenge they faced this year was: "How can we improve heart-related health problems in Europe for vulnerable communities who are invisible, neglected or even forgotten?” When reviewing this year’s competition submittions, Sean stated; “I am inspired by their stories, their optimism and the wonderful solutions they offer.”

Platforms such as DDW, London Design Week, Milan Design Week, are also important for emerging design talents to be seen and heard, he believes. Global Design events, such as Dutch design week, can help shape the future and provide a platform on which to share the most innovative and creative mindsets and perspectives. With heads of design from companies such as IBM and SAP and Universities such as the Rhode Island School of Design, University California San Diego and the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, Sean is also looking at what future skills institutions need to train designers well.

Redesigning the future of healthcare

And this is where Philips Experience Design plays a vital role in Philips' mission: to improve the lives of two billion people by 2025 through innovation of products, services and solutions that are meaningful to users. As part of DDW this year, Philips demonstrates in the virtual exhibition ‘Redesigning the Future of Healthcare’, how even today, Philips designers improve the future of healthcare with design.
Within Philips, Sean is responsible for the overarching creative & design thought leadership. He leads a team of 600 designers in 12 studios around the world who are all currently working from home. But not only that: he combines that position with an unusual role of Business Leader for Healthcare Transformation Services (HTS) that works as a consulting team with doctors, C-Suite of hospitals, clinicians, consultants and patients to deliver services that not only deliver efficiency but also optimize the experience for patients and staff.
Sean and his team are at the forefront of major developments and changes in healthcare. With high healthcare costs, an increasing shortage of medical staff, an increasing aging population and 50 percent of the world's population without access to basic health care, they face enormous challenges with one more challenge: the outbreak of COVID-19. So more than never before, we need to focus on innovations to improve people's lives. This is an excellent opportunity and responsibility for designers, says Sean.
He sees that the pandemic also yields something good, namely decisiveness. The COVID-19 crisis has increased focus on the transformation of healthcare and accelerated the further adoption of digital solutions. His team is also transforming and accelerating at lightning speed because of its clear focus and singleminded purpose, as Sean says. For example, Philips redesigned existing CPAP devices to create respirators, resulting in four times higher production volumes, to meet the needs of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients; and in just a few months. Another example: they worked day and night on an app for Dutch hospitals that provides insight into which ICU beds are available for corona patients and which ICUs are full, and how you can safely transport patients along with their medical patient files from a full hospital to a hospital with capacity.
Finally, he once again calls on designers: “Use the DDW platform. Collaborate and co-create more, get inspired and make an impact on the world together!"