Design Engineering
Showcase 2021


Behaviour Change
Sustainable Design

Project Details

Rhiannon Beddoe
Professor Robert Shorten
User Experience Lead
Retail and Consumer Goods

Refrain has redesigned the beauty distributor model from the ground up, allowing beauty brands to operate at minimal cost to the environment. They source products from local and sustainable companies and distribute them using innovative reusable packaging and a convenient refill model. The start-up is in its pre-launch phase, so over the past 6 months I have been helping them refine the user experience by taking the lead on touch points, user journey and emotional design. I was also helping improve the life cycle impact of the service by researching and filling in gaps in the supply chain.


Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

I was able to utilise and develop many Design Engineering skills throughout the placement and use a design thinking mindset throughout. My work on the user journey and website followed a double diamond approach, incorporating research, ideation, and human centered design. Work was iterated upon based on user feedback and discussions from daily company meetings. I used research methods learnt from Design Engineering to find academic papers on topics such as emotional design and the psychology of reuse models. From my research, I extended my knowledge on emotional and ritual design tools, using these to propose new ideas for how a customer interacts with the product.

I have expanded on my technical experience with life cycle analyses by learning the basics of a new software (OpenLCA) and going deeper into research and assumptions. I attended a virtual talk on LCA best practices which further deepened my understanding. Working at Refrain has given me insight into the complexity that comes with real world applications of LCA methods, as there is limited data available and often there are many assumptions that need to be made when researching.


Role and Contributions

I was one of three design engineering interns, resulting in largest number of full-time employees the start-up had ever had at one time. The small size of the start-up meant I was able to contribute to a range of projects.

To get acquainted with the company, one of my first tasks was to research areas of the product journey. I collated rationale for decisions, as Refrain aims to be as transparent as possible with consumers about all processes and their impact. I contacted potential stakeholders over the phone for quotes and enquiries, and to ask about their sustainability practices.

My most significant contribution to the company was taking the lead on the user journey, in particular the website. I started by picking up from a previous intern’s work on the user journey. I used tools such as personas and journey maps to propose ideas and improvements, and organised information into a ‘Refrain Bible’ on Miro. From this, I went on to develop wireframes, built the foundations of the website on the Shopify platform, and collated research and rationale for which apps, themes, and developer work to purchase. I then tested aspects of the website with focus groups.


Working at Refrain has been a rewarding and eye-opening experience. It was great to be responsible for the website development through a significant proportion of the design process, and I was able to build on skills from multiple Design Engineering modules. Having experienced the benefits of a strong team dynamic, company culture is now something I will highly prioritise in graduate jobs. The placement has also confirmed that I would like to pursue human-centered design and sustainability after graduation.