How do you encourage MPs to make better use of evidence and expertise in their decision making? You start by putting the message where they can’t miss it. We worked with Sense about Science to conceive and design an eye-catching installation in the heart of Parliament.
Sense about Science is an independent charity that challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life. They advocate open and honest research, and champion the role of sound science and evidence in public debates and policy-making.
Given the opportunity to take over the Upper Waiting Hall in the Palace of Westminster for a week, Sense about Science first approached us in search of a compelling idea for the space. It needed to emphasise the importance of evidence and resonate with MPs, peers and parliamentary staff.
Together with the Sense about Science team and project partners we developed the idea of ‘Evidence Week’; an initiative designed to promote the concept of scientific scrutiny and share the tools needed to interrogate evidence across a range of policy issues.
With the concept agreed, the next step was to design an installation that would make it come alive. We wanted to create something that was accessible, playful and provocative, and that would also stand out against the more traditional backdrop of Parliament.
Playing on a reference from children’s book design, we chose an approach that relied on coloured lenses to reveal otherwise hidden information. This mechanic takes the core message of Evidence Week – that we often need to look closely at information in order to discover what it really means – and presents it in a tangible and memorable way.
We incorporated a discussion board into the design to invite MPs and peers, as well as the public, to ask their own questions on evidence. We also put together a collection of printed collateral and campaign merchandise that visitors could take away to find out more.
Everything we did sat within Sense About Science’s existing visual identity, but we stripped it back to a few elements to create a recognisable graphic language that could be tied to Evidence Week – and one that would lend itself to spatial design. A clean, minimal colour palette stands in contrast to the interior architecture of the space, whilst we pushed the typography in a bolder and louder direction.
The installation was accompanied by a week-long programme of training and events run by Sense about Science and its partners, culminating in a roundtable event focused on what people want and need from evidence.
Over the four days, the installation engaged hundreds of visitors, including parliamentarians across the political spectrum. The initiative also sparked conversation online, with over 370,000 people interacting with campaign content on Twitter. As a result of this success, Evidence Week has now become an annual fixture, ensuring that the role of evidence – and why it matters – remains on the agenda in the years to come.