Visual support for workshops

I have become increasingly involved with facilitation and visual support roles at workshops and wanted to give an overview of how I can help support your team meetings, stakeholder workshops and problem solving scenarios.


Stakeholder engagement and co-design process across Europe

I worked with the innovation department in City of York Council to help visualise their open innovation and co-design process. I drew an illustrated map of the innovation journey with keywords that were translated into Estonian, Italian and Spanish.


Helping children visualise problems and imagine solutions

I supported a series of workshops for children with special education needs or disabilities to help them come up with ideas on how to make their school experience better. This included drawing exercises, making portraits and user personas and storyboarding ideas for improvements. It was great to enable the children identify issues and how to solve them – and they came up with some incredible insights. The workshops were a part of a larger service design programme run by Intelligent Space for Essex County Council to ensure that pupils’ voices are heard.


Facilitating ideas and sketching ideas at the BBC

BBC_poster BBC_Whatson
I worked with Sean Miller of Nonon on a co-design process of figuring out how best BBC North in Salford could create a showcase of technology and maximise engagement for the Blue Room. My role was to help facilitate idea generation, sketch ideas and help prototyping them – with lots of cardboard and Lego!

In addition to these examples I have collaborated with facilitators and changemakers to create illustrated conversation prompts, strategic journey visuals and even one journey set in space.

Interested? Just get in touch and we can have a chat.

Workshop visual scribing – about robots!

When I was asked to do visual scribing at workshop about robotics my first response was an instant ‘yes!’. A proud geek at heart I have always admired science and people who get it as my own brain just wasn’t made for those skills. The workshop was a team gathering for Being There, a research project investigating “how cutting-edge robotics might impact upon our experience of public space and bridge the gaps between the ways we communicate in person and online.” Sounds pretty rad, right?

The workshop was split into two parts: in the morning the discussion explored robot and human interaction and in the afternoon the participants got busy imagining future scenarios and personas using robots. It was such fun live scribing the content and get to see robot demonstrations! It also challenged my own ideas about future scenarios and connections between the human and the machine. Here is the final piece finished on the day for your perusal:



Talk @ Design Stuff Cardiff

Dan from Design Stuff Cardiff kindly asked me to come and give a talk at the monthly event and it was a blast. I was proud to be in the good company of Olwen Moseley from Cardiff Metropolitan University who gave a very probing talk about the impact of design work (“it’s not exactly life or death, is it?”). Together I think we delivered an evening of kick ass women on stage talking about their work with passion.

My talk was about a journey into visual sensemaking, explaining graphic recording, my creative process and collaborative projects, seeing patterns and stories – and also dealing with uncertainty. Here’s the video of the talk (25mins) – hope you enjoy it and if you have any thoughts on what I said please do get in touch and share them with me: laura @

Laura Sorvala – A journey into visual sensemaking from Design Stuff Cardiff on Vimeo.

Illustrated map for Cynefin Cardiff’s re-visioning event


It was great to see one of my illustrated maps being used at the Cynefin Cardiff re-visioning event last November. The  map showcases the local projects that have taken place in the last year as a result of what the community wanted to see in a previous visioning event. This time around the map was used as a prompt at the workshop to think about what’s next for the neighbourhood and you can read a short report about these findings here.

I have loved maps from a very young age and devoured atlases to learn place names and try to comprehend the scale of the earth. I have since then explored mapping as a visual metaphor to uncover connections and show information and recently bought a lovely book called Cartographies of Time, a fascinating collection of graphic representations of time and our concepts of history – heartily recommended.

Starting a discussion on transforming Cardiff

Late November in 2014 I offered to contribute to a collaborative event by graphic recording at a workshop on how the Cardiff City Region could work better. This Cardiff Agora Caerdydd event was an experiment in local area transformation jointly established by Nesta, Satori Lab, Welsh ICE and TYF Group with the blessing of Cardiff City Council. I won’t go much further into explaining the event and its outcomes, if you wish to know more you can read this comprehensive blog post by Assaf Frances from Nesta, or watch this video that the Wales Audit Office put together. Suffice to say it was interesting to capture outputs from group sessions and visualise discussion of broad concepts such as how to design a system for city-wide collaboration. Below is the end result, click to view it with more detail. Enjoy!


Embracing the unknown, documenting alternative voices


One of the standout experiences of this past year was taking part in the Transeuropa Caravans project organised by European Alternatives, a civic society and citizens movement. Over 12 days caravans in six different zones in Europe traveled documenting community initiatives and “connecting local alternative voices across the continent”. I was invited to travel with the North Western caravan as a cartoonist / illustrator documenting issues, conversations and personal stories along the way. In this post I will share my personal experiences and links to more cartoons and Vlad’s infamous video diaries.
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Illustration: The Great Roath Bake Off!

GreatRoathBakeOff_2014Little illustration I drew after last Saturday’s Great Roath Bake Off, an event raising money for different charities.


Sketchnotes: Design&: Creating the Future at Design Council


Auralab was commissioned to draw sketchnotes of the launch of Design&: Creating the Future, a report on design industry and education commissioned by University Alliance and The Intellectual Property Office. The launch took place on 25 March at the Design Council offices in London, where a discussion took place between the audience and a panel consisting of:

  • Professor Julius Weinberg, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University
  • John Sorrell CBE, Chairman of London Design Festival and UKTI Business Ambassador
  • Hilary Dalke, Director of The Design Research Centre and Design Environments at Kingston University
  • Rosa Wilkinson, Innovation Director at The Intellectual Property Office

Download the full sketchnotes below for the main points of the discussion which revolved around design education prior to university, value of design as cheap or expensive and impact of intellectual property.

Design&: Creating the Future sketchnotes by Auralab (PDF)

Questions? Ideas? Get in touch to have a chat.

Visual support for innovation workshops

Increasingly during 2014 Auralab has been offering visual support at innovation and ideas workshops for different innovation companies and public sector organisations. Many people are often more familiar with my illustration work and sketchnotes so here’s a brief introduction to how I have worked to support different ideas processes with illustration and facilitating discussions.


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New studio space

Studio space photo

Auralab has moved to a new studio space – or should I say the shared studio has moved to a new space in Cardiff Bay. The previous Morgan Arcade Studios contract came to an end as developers came in to refurbish the premises. So we made our way down to Cardiff Bay with a smaller ensemble, changed the name to Morgan Studios and now reside in a beautiful old building on Bute Street around the corner from Wales Millennium Centre.

If you are in Cardiff or in the bay area, pop in and say hi!

New address:

Morgan Studios
Meandros House
54a Bute Street
Cardiff Bay
CF10 5AF