“As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable.
In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions”
– Al Gore
Our landscapes are changing rapidly, and it is imperative, now more than ever, to inculcate a strong set of principles that define impactful and positive output.
Without collaboration, there is no progress. We can no longer rely on the conventional team structure (Client, Architect, Interior Designer, Structure, MEP, and Landscape Designer) when providing inputs towards holistic space design solutions to develop a thriving community.
Progressive teams today include professionals from a multitude of disciplines, from psychologists, social anthropologists and eco consultants to traffic consultants, geologists and disaster management consultants – a group of professionals you would have never imagined on a round table discussing space design. Breaking away from conventional ways of working, and inviting collaboration and encouraging participation from such diverse disciplines assures a more robust solution, one that is more structured, adaptive and more importantly, responsive to our current plight.
This sits at the forefront, for we as humans have the sole responsibility (and rightfully so!) of reversing our own doing. We are solely responsible for the depletion of our natural resources and our environment, and apart from us damaging our own future, we are responsible for affecting the survival of other species as well.
The key here is that we address this not to survive but to thrive, and our approach needs to go beyond “patch-fix” solutions to such problems, only to add a few more years to the inevitable; but instead must provide a holistic solution that actually stops if not reverses the damage. The fact is that in order for species to thrive (not survive) there is an interdependency between all living things and whether we are willing to accept it or not, that time has come! So how does this apply to design, specifically, within the realms of space?
The key areas that need addressing are urbanisation, waste generation – solid and water waste, and energy (generation, consumption and wastage). We also need to work with government authorities to redefine building bye-laws and urban development policies to at least protect the environment from any further negative impact.
Firstly, we need to move away from centralised civic support systems and treatment solutions to localised systems and solutions, thereby developing the motto, “at source”. Our communities, homes and buildings must be designed such that we produce what we consume. Those that practice this are referred to as prosumers, and this in itself will tremendously change our relationship with our environment. This further applies to construction material, i.e. sourcing localised materials and using local labour. In addition, looking at recyclable building materials and using fast growing trees for furniture such as acacia and bamboo, which are excellent substitutes to teak and rosewood.
Land is no longer an affordable commodity for the masses. Addressing the needs of the masses is key to the successful development of our ecosystem. And it’s not just servicing the need for shelter, but to providing solutions to uplift their lifestyle at an affordable cost.
Remember you’re as strong as your weakest link. Designing for the community is crucial to ensuring holistic development. This also helps bring affordability onto the table. Designs today need to incorporate a multitude of facets into the living ecosystem developing it laterally. A lot of futuristic designs incorporate co living, co working, parks, open spaces, sports centres, malls, libraries and any such activities that foster community development and engagement.
Today technology sits at the forefront of progressive design. Deep learning, IOT and systems design are driving companies into the future, creating efficacy and improvement to already existing business models. Newer business models are emerging with embedded technologies for a competitive advantage in global markets.
The final piece to the puzzle is government support, to allow design thought initiatives the liberty to execute and flourish, keeping in mind the predicament we have put ourselves in.
Furthermore, it requires you to go beyond your conventionally defined scope and not just think about the project at hand, but more importantly, the relationship and responsibility it shares in context to its immediate surroundings, community, city, and the world at large.
In essence, designing for the future means taking an inclusive approach, using a multitude of perspectives from various disciplines to achieve a holistic solution that keeps the user at the center – what we call the design thinking framework.
Founder & Chief – Design Management
At Zeitgeist, we design experiences for people.
The best way to do this we feel, is to design a space keeping its “soul” in mind.
For a private project, this “soul” may be reflective of an individual’s (or group’s) aspirations, personality or achievements. For a commercial project, it should be reflective of the venture’s brand. In both cases the experience is designed keeping the end user in mind.
The best opportunity to do this arises when a concept is born, but its personality (brand) has not yet been developed.
One of the instances where Zeitgeist had the opportunity to develop a brand and then give it life via a space and brand extensions was when a client presented us with their idea of developing an authentic Italian pizzeria in Whitefield, Bangalore.
Understanding The Personality
The project proposed by the client was for their flagship restaurant, which they had plans to expand into a chain in the future. Upon immersing ourselves into a Brand Development Workshop with the client, it was clear that their USP was to be an authentic Italian pizzeria.
As part of the Brand Audit process, we conducted in depth research into our target market – expatriates – using Focus Groups as our methodology for this particular project. We chose this method, since we were given a very clearly defined market segment. (You can read more about the relevance of Focus Groups in the brand development process in an earlier article of ours.)
From this we understood that the target market would respond well to a homely “mamas and papas” pizzeria – the kind you’d find in a quaint alley in Naples.
Further expanding on what our research revealed, we used the framework of design thinking to design the entire experience for the end user.
Once we were clear on the brand’s personality and had ensured that it represented a match between the client’s vision and the market’s desires and expectations, we set about the Brand Development process, beginning with ideating for names, logo direction, fonts and colour palettes we thought would work.
Now that the Brand Language we needed to develop was clear, we also began to work on integrating it into the design of the space.
The proposed site for the pizzeria was an abandoned 8000 sq. ft. industrial warehouse that had previously been used to manufacture aeronautical parts.
Speaking the Language
The finalised Brand Name, Affettato – Italian for “sliced”, represents authenticity, while alluding directly to the product.
Staying true to being authentic, we proposed retaining the feel of the old warehouse and developed a Space Design that would tie in nicely with the Industrial look trending across the globe. The idea was to give the customer the feeling that he could be at a trendy, hip restaurant in any part of the world.
Nothing says ‘authentic’ like inviting a customer into the process, and so we developed a plan wherein the kitchen wall would be conceptualised as the window to good Italian street food. In the same vein, we also designed a large, open pizza bar, allowing for a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces, while simultaneously working this idea into the design of the logo as well.
The Logo is framed by a large cutout, just like the bar – open and authentic; the triangles represent slices of pizza, while the sans serif font is in harmony with the trendy, industrial vibe of the brand and space.
Finally, we set about extending the brand language to the Brand Collateral – including the menu and branded merchandise like pasta sauce and wine bottles.
Tying It All Together
The benefit of interweaving the brand development process with the design of a space, is that it puts us in the advantageous position of first understanding the market we are designing for.
Once we understand the end user it becomes easier to design a brand and a space that speak to each other and to the end user, and does not end up being a disjointed, unsatisfactory experience – something that benefits neither the end user nor our client.
Do you have an innovative idea or a new venture just about to take off? Using the framework of design thinking, Zeitgeist can help you develop your brand’s personality, give it a unique voice and translate it into an experience of value to your customer.
Get in touch today.
Have you been thinking about trying out co-creation at your organisation, but don’t know where to begin?
Co-creation as an evolving concept can sometimes create a feeling of ambiguity. At its core however are a few basic principles around which the act of co-creation can be customised depending on need and environment.
In the first part of our series on co-creation, we explored what the concept was and how it is the optimum tool for developing solutions to complex problems. In the next part we examined companies that have been successful in their co-creation ventures. The third part looked at the inextricable link between technology and the ultimate goal of co-creation – innovation, for value creation.
This post looks at how to go about enabling co-creation. What are the key psychological and operational elements that make up a successful co-creation endeavour? We’ve narrowed it down to 7 principles.
1. Unlock Minds
Effective co-creation requires a certain kind of mindset – an attitude that encapsulates humility, empathy and transparency.
At the heart of co-creation lies humility. A know-it-all attitude is not conducive to co-creation. The belief that there can be another and possibly better way of doing things is key.
Another vital element is the ability to empathise with the end user. This enables the development of solutions that actually solve the problem. The parties to co-creation must also be transparent with each other, which in turn means that a high degree of trust and integrity must exist.
Not all organisations (either intentionally or unintentionally) embody these aspects in their corporate culture. The first step would thus be to expose the people in your team to the synergetic potential of co-creation. Besides sharing concepts, sharing practical examples of co-creation, such as those we spoke about in our article Co-Creation: More Than Just a Buzzword is an impactful way to showcase the power of co-creation.
Clear directives and training, which explain the benefits of co-creation open up the mind to new ways of innovating, and state what the purpose of the endeavour is, without being too restrictive in nature, so as not to stifle creativity.
The idea is to empower, not overpower your team.
2. Plan for Harmony, Prepare for Chaos
As with any successful venture, a good plan is essential. Besides setting clear objectives, the co-creation plan must also take into consideration how the initiator will go about infusing a culture of humility, empathy and transparency – if it doesn’t already exist – into the company.
This isn’t something that can happen overnight, but as the initiator you must work to foster such an environment, keeping in mind that co-creation requires a change in mindset and perhaps a change in organisational culture as well, which employees may not always take in their stride.
It can be demotivating when the required change isn’t forthcoming. You must thus always keep in mind that a change in mindset is a process requiring patience and persistence, and not a one time event.
Co-creation can be successful only if a spirit of collaboration is encouraged and nurtured. This could take the form of collaboration within the organisation, with outsiders, with the end user or with other stakeholders.
However, collaborating means that several parties from various backgrounds come together – a situation that if not structured properly, could lead to undesired outcomes, misunderstandings and chaos in general.
Having a plan and sticking to it alone isn’t enough. One must be prepared to handle change and the uncertainty it can bring. In fact, unpredictability must be embraced, for it is through unpredictability that one is able to discover new possibilities and explore their application and feasibility.
3. Put People First
Any co-creation endeavour must put people first. This takes two forms.
First, your team must be clear that the end user’s requirements must remain at the forefront of their decision making and ideation processes at all times. This could be extended to include encouraging the end user to explore his creativity in discovering a solution. End users have the invaluable advantage of hands on experience, but they don’t always recognise this fact.
Secondly, you, as the initiator, must keep your co-creation team motivated at all times. Incentives, recognition and appreciation are key; people like to be valued for their contribution. Equally important is feedback and support, to nurture development of the concept, keep lines of communication open and to help overcome barriers, which are an inevitable outcome of a new way of doing things.
Co-creation should be looked at as a win-win for all concerned and must focus on value creation for all the stakeholders involved – this ensures enthusiastic participation.
4. Connect Creativity
The trends and innovations of the past 10 years or so across industries and businesses appear to indicate a shift towards more creative, non-traditional ways of developing solutions. This ties in directly with co-creation, which encourages connecting diverse creativity.
For example, one doesn’t traditionally see an architect working with a psychologist. But what if the psychologist could help the architect to understand the behaviour patterns and motivations of the particular market the architect is designing for? Isn’t it likely to generate a more user-centric and effective design?
As an initiator of co-creation you should encourage and facilitate connections between the people who could be most effective to your particular projects. At large companies this could also mean letting go of traditional approaches to innovation and management hierarchies.
In order to solve complex problems, people should be allowed to to freely and rapidly exchange information. This could take various forms, from reducing red tape to facilitating online platforms for interaction.
5. Pick Pertinent Partners
While Point 4 above indicates opening up the avenues of creativity by including co-creators from various backgrounds, it is important to understand that this must be balanced with choosing the correct people for your particular project.
For example, if attempting to achieve major breakthrough ideas, it makes sense to include technologically sound partners – the best if possible – sometimes even with a competitor, as our example of co-creation between Apple and Microsoft in Part-2 of this series showed. On the other hand, if co-creating something for the greater good, it makes sense to include people with similar values, interests and goals. Wikipedia is a good example, with the common goal of participants being knowledge sharing at a single point.
6. Capitalise on Technology
Technology, as discussed in our earlier article, can be a big asset to co-creation. The idea though shouldn’t be to try to utilise every new technological innovation that is developed, but rather to examine which technologies could enhance your particular co-creation undertaking, in terms of speed, quality, reach and precision.
7. Fail Faster, Grow Quicker
Finally, any co-creation endeavour must accept that not every idea that comes to light may be an appropriate one. The initiator must be prepared for this and be able to weed out the ideas that are not in keeping with the objectives.
Similarly, preparation must be made for what will happen post the idea generation stage – an action plan for how to practically apply a great idea. Once ideas have been shortlisted, it is important to rapidly prototype and test the practical feasibility of it their application. The faster you eliminate ideas or discover potential problems, the closer you are to finding the most effective solution.
Have you tried co-creation at your organisation? Share your experience with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page @zeitgeistdesignanddevelopment
With the rampant synergy in tech and business development, Zeitgeist takes a closer look at tech integrations that are going to become mainstream.
AI seems to be slowly but surely replacing jobs that require technical computation and data analysis to produce more human driven conclusions through apps, devices and platforms. AI cannot mimic the empathetic human brain just yet, but already has the capability to beat the human brain in playing a game. Libratus just beat top class human poker champions at their own game, just like Deepmind with chess. AI can now also mimic racial biases. On October 17th, 2017 Sophia was introduced – an AI bot that rose to fame by being introduced to the U.N. and acquiring citizenship in Saudi Arabia. She can imitate human expression, though she is still learning what these things mean. Research firm Gartner estimates that AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020.
And then there is the eternal question – could AI ever replace humans altogether?
We all know that IoT (The Internet of Things) has been hugely disruptive. Connecting smart sensors to connected devices has created a huge way of convenience and control to the user. Today we are able to control a small light switch, or a large off site generator through virtual assistants like Google’s Alexa. But the real magic is just about to begin.
By combining Blockchain Technology with IoT, tech is going to see a new wave of security and services for businesses. API’s will very soon come in to connect different databases with different computer services. This will drive efficiency and competition. For example a BIoT innovation could be shipment tracking devices with sensors embedded in them for real time data. Imagine the impact of quality in our supply chains if we could track heat, time, and traffic to ensure that our vegetables got to us perfectly fresh!
BIoT will assure companies that their most valuable data will not be hacked – a huge upward move for security in businesses across the globe.
Li-Fi and AR
Augmented Reality will take centerstage this year. The rapid pace at which AR has taken off will allow people to shop for things that fit to size. Augmented mannequins will create a customised shopping experience where body types will be easily created to match your own, along with online inventory that will rival any online store.
In addition to this, Li-Fi, a new light-based data connection, will bring speeds up to 100 times faster than a 4G wi-fi connection.
The retail experience is rapidly changing for the consumer – online stores, watch out!
Fintech will soon take over traditional methods of paying for things. With social and mobile payments at your fingertips it only makes sense to focus on pushing these technologies further for more efficiency. Soon we will be able to scan our eyes through our smartphone to make a payment, eliminating the need for credit and debit cards altogether!
With Cryptocurrency and Blockchain creating further security in finance, it will be a matter of time before we make serious attempts to reduce the energy used in quantum computing and secure mining – investors get ready! This will in turn create financial incentives for all major retailers to move into Cryptocurrency and all their digital assets will begin to behave similarly to traditional methods of finance, payments, loans and credits, at a scalable cost.
The landscape for business today is fresh and exciting. Operational changes and business offerings are rapidly being driven to integrate progressive tech in order to stand apart from competition. Consumers – dabbling in some reading to equip you with what the future holds could stand to benefit you in more ways than one. Business owners – if you aren’t tech savvy yet, watch out, you have a hurricane coming your way!
Founder and Chief
I was sitting in my garden the other day and reflecting on Zeitgeist’s journey as a design house. In effect, we have been agile, design thinking and lean from the very beginning without knowing it or being certified for it back then.
Milestone 1: Designing Spaces that Enhance Human Experiences
The journey began with space design and the desperate desire to inculcate an Indian benchmark to global living standards. This came from my years growing up abroad and knowing the difference in how I felt in a well designed space versus one that had little or no expression. A space that had intention had the ability to change my mood and mindset. And as we gravitated to applied learning, life pushed us in the direction of designing spaces to bring the best mood out of the human experience. We began to recognise the value in that feeling and held on to it. We had intention. As we moved toward authenticity it became easier to identify the disconnect in an experience – a story half told.
A space that had intention had the ability to change my mood and mindset…As we moved toward authenticity it became easier to identify the disconnect in an experience – a story half told.
Milestone 2: Infusing Personality through Brand Development
It became evidently clear to me that messages were being interrupted and lost when we didn’t put the receiver first and weave language for a complete understanding. The ability to tell that story became the need of the hour. It didn’t make sense to design the environment without understanding how the personality wove through it. We needed to be more than just one of the best interior designers Bangalore had to offer. And so we began to build the other half that was missing. This was not part of the plan. Just a gut instinct and a chance we took. So we tested. Staying light, we brought in the talent for identity design and very soon began to align on projects from multiple perspectives.
Milestone 3: Using Design Thinking to add Value and Impact
When I looked at the plate it still only seemed half full. How could we integrate these services and create an offering that actually meant something in the long run? I wanted more out of the design process. And as I began to search, my search found me. Design Thinking became the framework I gravitated toward. It had the beginnings of a structure that resonated with me. It put people first. Leaning into this kind of thinking aligned with my sense of purpose and growth.
I was excited to put these frameworks into our processes at Zeitgeist. What would happen if we integrated this kind of thinking into our lean start-up. How much value could we offer? What new ideologies would come out of it? How could we offer strategic design consultancy that added value and impact?
Design thinking….resonated with me…..It put people first.
And so we began to recreate our internal structure around better belief systems, deeper meaning, and higher purpose. Alignment toward this way of thinking is the naturally progressive way and we fit right in. It amazed me to think how far we had come. With a gentle smile it struck me that everything happens by design.Madhuri Rao Founder & Chief Design Strategy