Design thinking for prison industries

Lorraine Gamman, Adam Thorpe and Praveen Nahar

Design thinking for prison industries: exchanging design tools, methods and processes with prisons in London and Ahmedabad to build inmate resilience


Lorraine Gamman, UAL


Adam Thorpe, UAL


Praveen Nahar, NID

We believe that designing spaces inside and outside prison to foster development of the skills and mindset that ‘re-entry’ from prison back to wider society requires, is what is needed to address the problem of recidivism. Also that understanding people and place should be central to the conception and realization of strategies for releasing prisoners as ‘returning citizens’.

Funded by the Arts Humanities Research council, between 2014-16, our project aims to help break the cycle of recidivism by reframing prison industries as holistic ‘creative hubs’ that could better equip inmates to find employment opportunities on release. Delivered at HMP Thameside in the UK and Sabarmarti Jail in India, the project draws on design to address the gap that currently exists between ‘vocational’ and ‘educational’ approaches to increasing employability amongst prisoners.

Designers from Central Saint Martins in London and NID in Ahmedabad, have introduced ‘design-thinking’ to inmates in accessible and visual ways so that inmate learning can occur in pragmatic vocational contexts. Makeright – a label being created by inmates and DACRC in both cities – is exploring social enterprise as a way of sustaining these activities. The paper above explains our current thinking.