What we’re about


We do human-centred design.

Our team has been doing this for a while, so our experience goes deep and wide. Improving services for the dementia community. A better way of getting Australian military veterans benefits. Increasing access to work for job seekers.

The common thread is that our design is always for someone. For the people who need the thing to be better. Public housing tenants. IT salespeople. Visitors to national monuments.

Maybe also for you.


Who we work with


agencies in Australia and abroad that are  ready to design something better


start-ups and multinationals that are open to innovation

Third Sector

peak bodies and local advocacy groups that are  re-examining their mission

How we think


Look for simplicity

A complex problem may not need a complicated answer. When you’re buried in the problem, you get so caught up in the complexity that you just dig further into the weeds.

You can throw effort at pushing through the problem. Or we can help you find the path out.


Think around the problem

Don’t jump straight into doing. Yes, you could build a thing. An application. A team structure. But is it the right thing?

We help you take a step back. Where have you come from? Where do you need to go next? When we map your trajectory, we can design the thing that moves you forward.


Take courage

You have more options than you think. You can stop iterating old thinking. Designing with tiny cuts. If your pain or your ambition is big enough, you’ll untie yourself from what’s been done before.

There’s always a risk in taking a different path. We understand that. We will coach, guide, plan — and stare that risk down.


Stay open

We ask “why?” more often than usual. There’s power in staying curious. We teach design thinking, research, and user experience, so that’s where we start. But we’re not wedded to those tools. What else could work?

Openness also means accountability. You want discoveries, not surprises. We’ll be in contact. You always know where we are and what’s next.

How we work


We find out what you need.

That starts with getting a handle on the problem. There’s always at least two types of problem: what first prompted you to look for help, and the problem that’s causing the pain.

This is our discovery phase. It could involve:

  • Field research
  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • Competitor analysis

Naturally, you can expect a workshop with Post-it Notes. ?

Doing research is not up for negotiation. Without research, you’re working off opinions and preconceived ideas, not actually looking at the needs of the people you serve. How much research you need — that we can talk about.

We bring assumptions to the surface and test them out. We move past the first take on the problem, so we get to root causes.

When you understand what you need, you may expect more. Not just delivering a thing, but designing action. Making change out there in your world.


We distil what we’ve heard.

That means turning the messiness of raw data into something you can take hold of. A structured understanding of the problem and a full view of the ways to tackle it.

In this stage, you’ll see:

  • Synthesis
  • Persona development
  • Service mapping
  • Interaction modelling
  • Prototyping
  • Customer journey mapping

And we do all this with you. Real co-design. You’re welcome to take part in our research. In fact, we encourage it. That way, you see how the solution flows out of our work together.


We help you make the change.

You have the design: the new organisation structure, the prototype, the roadmap. Now we make that design real.

That means defining the next level of work:

  • Implementation plans with phases and milestones
  • Success metrics
  • Ongoing user-testing
  • Design briefs
  • Business case development

We’re always interested in capability development. What mix of skills and experience do you need at every level of your organisation? Where should you recruit? And where can we build your people up to carry the change forward?

Our people

Stephen Collins

Founder and
Principal Designer


Nathanael Coyne

Lead Designer

Katrina Tidy

Senior BD


Kara Defrias

Adviser and Mentor


We work with clients at home and around the world on solving wicked problems.

Canberra is Australia’s national capital and is globally recognised as a great place to live; somewhere you are a part of a community that is smart, connected, and creative, and a city where innovation and entrepreneurship drive social and economic growth.

We wouldn’t want to be based anywhere else!


As individuals, and as a team, we believe in business being better, and making sure that the work we do with clients, the suppliers we use, and the people we employ are all actively considerate of the impact they have in the world.

acidlabs is one of just a handful of Certified B Corporations in the Australian Capital Territory (and one of fewer than 250 in Australia).

It’s our belief that becoming a B Corp shows us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, makes business sense, and helps us differentiate, benchmark our performance, work with the right suppliers, and attract the right kind of talent.

Let's do great work together