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Space Design

Today sees the launch of the 11th World Architecture Festival (WAF), in Amsterdam. For the past ten years, this festival has been one of the most important international events in the world of architecture, featuring thematic conferences and talks, exhibitions and the opportunity to network with others in the industry. As its website explains:

The World Architecture Festival is dedicated to celebrating, sharing and inspiring outstanding architecture. It is the only architecture event where keynote talks from the industry’s most influential figures sit alongside live judging presentations from over 500 award finalists plus global networking and an international product exhibition.

One of the highlights of the festival is the WAF awards, which recognises the work of architects and interior designers from around the world, across 35 categories, such as Future Project of the Year, Best Use of Colour and Small Project of the Year. The pinnacle is the prized World Building of The Year award.

In today’s blog, we showcase five of the past ten winners of the Building of the Year award:

2009: Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre – Peter Rich Architects

The Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre is the perfect example of a structure that has been designed keeping its context and environment in mind. The Mapungubwe National Park, which sits at on South Africa’s northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe was home to an ancient society, and one of the first places to ever produce gold. The region boasts of some spectacular flora and fauna, including Baobab trees that are over 1000 years old and over 400 bird species.

The building’s form draws its inspiration from the rondavel – a traditional, oval shaped hut made from indigenous materials – commonly found in the countries of Southern Africa.
The technique used by Peter Rich Architects merges the latest developments in structural geometry with ancient construction methods, including the use of timbrel vaults. As a result, the building, which houses ancient artifacts, combines the best of both worlds to achieve a cost effective solution that incorporates local material and labour, while remaining ecologically sustainable and sensitive to its surroundings.
From an aesthetic viewpoint, the visitors’ centre blends seamlessly into its Sandstone and mopane woodlands backdrop, as you can see in the pictures above by architectural photographer Iwan Baan.

2010: MAXXI Museum – Zaha Hadid Architects

In a city so steeped in heritage and ancient architecture as Rome, the MAXXI museum, which was 10 years in the making, is representative of the importance of structures being able to aesthetically and functionally co-exist in a contemporary scenario.
Envisioned as “a campus for art”, the open spaces, pathways and floating staircases overlap and flow, encouraging an interpretive experience for the museum’s visitors, rather than forcing a predetermined, contained one. The structure also allows for panoramic views of the city, reminding visitors of its context, while design elements allow for ample natural lighting of the space.

2011: Media-TIC – Enric Ruiz Geli

Located in 22@, Barcelona’s technology and innovation district, the Media-TIC building is the epitome of an innovative building, incorporating cutting-edge technology into its design and development, all the way up to methods to improve energy efficiency.

Architect Geli describes the design as an example of performative architecture – where the structure itself performs other functions. For example, 2500 sq.m of the building’s facade employs EFTE cladding, resulting in energy savings of 20%.
Envisioned as an information and communication technology hub, to incubate innovation, the Media-TIC building is able to house over 2400 people across various functional spaces, including an exhibition area, auditorium and office spaces.

2013: Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Art Gallery – FJMT & Archimedia

Restoring and renovating a space, especially on the scale of a public project poses a set of challenges different to those of designing from scratch. At the Auckland Art Gallery, the architects have devised a perfect balance between incorporating naturally occuring forms at the site, maintaining the identity of the existing structure and ensuring that the new building blends in seamlessly.

The new building’s canopied roof is made of light material, creating an extension to the indigenous trees of the adjacent Albert Park. Extensive use of glass on the facade embraces the outdoors, creating a feeling of openness and showcasing magnificent views of the park; while also enticing visitors to enter the space.

2015: The Interlace – OMA & Ole Scheeren

While developing the design for Interlace, an apartment building complex in Singapore, the focus was on designing a contemporary living space specifically within a tropical environment.

Moving away from Singapore’s traditional high-rise style apartment, Scheereen takes advantage of the property’s massive 8-hectare canvas to create a spread out, interlocking apartment complex that incorporates cascading sky gardens, private and public roof terraces and low-impact energy strategies to relieve the effects of the hot, humid climate conditions.
The striking external form alludes to the feeling of ‘community’ and ‘interdependence’, while functionally, it acknowledges society’s need for both, shared and individual spaces.

WAF 2018 – What’s in Store?

The theme at this year’s World Architecture Festival is Identity and some of the world’s most influential architects, designers and commentators will be sharing their views on a topic that is highly relevant in today’s world, including exploring questions like “How can our model of the city evolve when we think beyond oppositional relationships and focus instead on connecting for mutual benefit?” and “How can architecture extend our identities in new ways, while sheltering who and what we are?”

The WAF’s 2018 shortlist contains 535 projects from 57 countries. You can check them all out at this link:

Who do you think will win this year’s Building of the Year award and why? Tell us in the comments below.

Note: Except where mentioned, all images copyright of Iwan Baan.


Design Strategy, Trends

At the intersection of technology and design lies a huge potential to create meaningful solutions. In last week’s article, we briefly explored some of the new technology that will soon find its way into our everyday lives. Today we examine a few industries where tech and design are already beginning to sit comfortably together and we explore what the future could bring.


For disciplines like architecture, interior design, process and factory layouts, and other space design fields, new technologies are opening up possibilities like never imagined before. mixed reality tools like Microsoft HoloLens allow all parties involved in decision making to view, edit and participate in the development of designs before execution, resulting in huge cost and time saving thanks to real time interaction, as well as improved customer and end user satisfaction!

With a VR headset, potential users of a space can take a virtual walkthrough in an unfinished project to see what the end result will look like.

Realtor apps like Street Peek already use augmented reality to have information like listing price and number of bedrooms pop up when potential home buyers/renters point their phone at a house.


Virtual and augmented reality improves the efficiency of collaborative efforts – a key element in developing sound and purposeful products.
According the the Microsoft website, “Microsoft HoloLens and Autodesk Fusion 360 are helping improve collaboration across the entire product development process, enabling engineers and designers to iterate together in real-time. Faster prototyping, more confident decisions, and more efficient cooperation are the future of product design.”


Google Glass, which didn’t do as well as its creators imagined it would in the mass consumer market, would appear to be finding a new lease of life in its new avatar – Google Glass Enterprise Edition, or Glass EE as it’s referred to by those in the know.

This version, which was adopted as pilot projects for testing in companies like GE, Boeing, DHL and Volkswagen, is beginning to garner large scale adoption, thanks to the improved quality and productivity observed by these early adopters, where Glass has helped workers improve their efficiency. For example, when workers at GE use Glass EE with a wi-fi enabled torque wrench, the device tells them if they are using the right amount of torque.

Further, research from Forrester indicates that by 2025, over 14 million US workers will be wearing smart glasses at their workplace.

Glass is a good example of innovative technology missing the mark, when its market potential is not properly explored and the product isn’t accordingly modified to suit a latent need. While Glass failed to garner mass B2C adoption, it appears to be redeeming itself in its 2.0 version in the B2B market.


Augmented and virtual reality have the ability to add tremendous value to the world of retail, and are poised to be used more frequently in the future.

We’ve already seen some examples of how virtual reality can offer a more immersive experience when it comes to advertising. For example, Lipton’s 360 VR ad campaign of 2016 allowed viewers to “go on a journey” inside a relaxing cup of tea. Similarly, Oreo’s campaign took their audience through a sweet-filled, tempting journey to promote their new cupcake filled cookie, while Johnnie Walker used VR to create a more realistic viewing experience while promoting awareness around the consequences of drinking and driving.

With augmented reality, retailers have the opportunity to put more information in the hands of their consumers, in a more fun and interactive way, simply by pointing their phone at an object. Imagine a future where you could walk through your supermarket and point your phone at a loaf of bread to have its ingredients, expiry date and such information pop up on your screen – the day when this will be commonplace is not that far away.

Besides educating or imparting information to potential consumers, AR could also offer them a more convenient, pleasurable and time saving shopping experience. Companies like Home Depot, Ikea, Lacoste and Sephora already have apps that do just this.

With Ikea Place for example, you can point your phone at any space and see what an Ikea product would look like in it. With the Lacoste LCST app, users just need to scan trigger images in a Lacoste store and can “try on” an entire product range, as well as interact with additional information. Timberland has even experimented with using AR technology for users to try on clothes, without physically trying them on.


Augmented reality puts information at the tips of travellers’ fingers, as they explore a new place. From historical information on monuments to nearby restaurants, lodging and other facilities, the improved experience for travellers results in more accurate information dissemination, time saving, better informed decision making and ultimately, happier holidays!

eTips is one company already offering AR enabled apps that turn your phone into you own personal your guide. Their apps are categorised into Landmarks, National Parks, Cities and Museums. So for example, if you were visiting the Louvre in Paris and wanted to know more about a particular painting, all you would have to do is point your phone at the painting and have the information pop up on your screen!
This article from CNN explores ten popular AR travel apps.


According to HackerNoon, by 2025 the healthcare revenue from augmented and virtual reality will be around $5 billion. Here are a few ways the medical world has already adopted the technology:

Using the Augmedix platform with Glass, a ‘scribe’ or real time assistant is able to remotely experience what a doctor sees and hears, thus freeing him up from the task of having to fill in information and leaving him more time to focus on his patient.
In one study, the total time spent on data entry went down from 33% of the day to just 10%, while patient interaction rose from 35% to 70%.

Another example is AccuVein. According to the company, 40% of IV injections miss locating the vein on the first attempt. Accuvein uses projection based augmented reality to make vein location in patients far more accurate it and has been found to improve the likelihood of first stick success by 3.5 times.

The AED4EU app used in conjunction with the Layar reality browser could potentially save people’s lives by helping them locate the nearest defibrillator.


Virtual and augmented reality in education allow one to experience something without actually having to be present at the place. For example, with Google Expeditions students can explore places from the Great Barrier Reef to Mount Everest, without having to ever leave the classroom!


We’ve only really covered just the tip of the iceberg in this article. While we’ve highlighted the major tech trends that are going to impact us, we’ve examined just some of the possibilities in just a few industries. That’s because the potential is enormous. We would have to write book-sized article to explore it all completely in depth.

The idea is to get us all, as designers, thinking about where we could find a place in this landscape that will soon be upon us.

As a designer where do you think you will fit in in the future?

Do share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this article.


Design Strategy, Trends

Twenty years ago we sat on the cusp of the mobile phone revolution. The advancement in technology at the time opened up endless possibilities for designers from various fields. From new possibilities for existing design disciplines – product designers for example – to entirely new design job profiles, like application designers, the design world was headed towards a new era.

Today we sit on the cusp of another revolution. Advancements in technology today are paving the way for virtual, augmented and mixed reality to become a part of everyday life. Where does this leave designers? What is the current scenario and going forward, what are the new roles where designers will be able to add tremendous value? What are the skills that designers should begin to hone?

In this article, we take a look at the overall scenario, and in the following week, we will take a specific look at certain industries, to see what the future could hold. If you are a designer, perhaps the time is ripe to ask yourself – Am I ready?


In case you’re not absolutely familiar with the terminology, here’s a succinct explanation from Wikipedia that sums it up nicely:

Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment.
Augmented Reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment.
Mixed Reality (MR) doesn’t just overlay, but anchors virtual objects to the real world and allows the user to interact with the virtual objects.

Besides our smartphones and tablets, hardware such as Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens present us with a whole new range of possibilities. Coupled with this, is the soon-to-be-ubiquitous 5G and the yet-to-be-realised potential of IoT, which push the boundaries even further.


The obvious roles for designers are in the more areas of traditional design, like graphic design, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design.
But beyond this, more and more designers are finding a spot at the biggest decision making tables across organisations, and not just at those within the design sector. With design thinking as a process gaining more popularity, the huge value a designer can add in helping to arrive at truly impactful and viable solutions is being recognised.

Companies are putting designers at the head of the table…The user’s experience of technology these days is even more important than the tech itself. The UI is what distinguishes a product; a company. That’s one reason why designers are being employed across industries.

– Scott Belsky,
Chief Product Officer, Adobe
Co-founder, Behance

Venture design services that incorporate the design thinking framework, where problems are looked at from a macro level, and proposed design solutions are crafted from end user insights along with other factors in their environment, will come to play an important role.

An interdisciplinary approach that views the problem from various angles and seeks the inputs of experts from different disciplines will lead to the most comprehensively designed solutions. For example, when planning a commercial building, an architect would create a more effective design if he clearly understood the market segment he was designing for, the demographics of the area and the needs of each specific age group of the end users.

This would require intensive research and an in depth analysis by the architect, requiring him to go beyond his domain and should ideally be a collaborative effort with other experts, such as a social anthropologist or social psychologist.

Furthermore, venture design enabled through design thinking, allows the business to discover and tap into latent needs that the end user might not even realise he has, leading to a more comprehensive solution. With technology evolving at a speed that’s hard to keep up with, organisations will have to integrate new solutions rapidly. Venture design helps firms focus on the right thing at the right time, to take advantage of opportunities when they arise and to constantly deliver meaningful solutions. It also addresses the need for adaptability and answering the “what ifs”, by providing pivot strategies that enable the business to move or change the direction of their solutions to better fit the end user’s requirements, as they evolve.

Designers who wish to be at the forefront of pathbreaking designs, will have to engage in continuous learning and experimentation, to be able to understand, manipulate and employ new technology optimally.

The designers of the future need to look beyond just their field of speciality and also remind themselves to understand things from the point of view of a layman using that product or service. Design, be it of a product, space, user experience or of an organisation can no longer be looked at in isolation, if it is to be truly impactful.

As a designer, are you ready for the impending revolution that is upon us?

What are your thoughts – we’d love to know in the comments below.


Design Strategy, Space Design

“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.

Raoul Parekh
Founder & Chief – Design Management


Business Tips & How To's

Regardless of the kind of work we do, creativity is the spice of life and we must strive to extract its essence everyday. But not all of us are built to harvest this spice, either due to the fear of the unknown or because life never conditioned us to explore it.

In this blog, we’ll describe 5 ways you can juice your creativity, challenge it and push it to the limits, with some curated efforts.

1. Get Uncomfortable

Consume media content that’s way outside your comfort zone or area of interest. This could include watching unfamiliar documentaries or foreign-language films without subtitles, listening to offbeat music or even just reading YouTube or Twitter comments (in monitored dosage, it’s a different high altogether!) The aim is to activate the brain’s lateral thinking which often sparks creativity.

2. Create ‘Mood’

Listening to classical music is always great. The genre is designed to stimulate the mind and induce imagination. You can experiment with speakers or earphones – each has a different effect on the mind.

Lighting has been found to be another major influencer. Contrary to what might seem, dim light often helps the mind dip and wander off shamelessly.

3. Take A Walk

Going out on walks invites different mood accelerators. The ambience helps the mind lose a little focus, only to lift the intense pressure of thinking in silence.

Research suggests that the colours blue and green light up the creative corners of the brain; and where else would one find these in abundance more than the on streets and in nature?

You might be getting the idea that creativity has a lot to do with solitude… but not quite!

4. Expand Your Horizons

Engaging with people outside your ‘project’ results in brilliant ideas too. It can be surprising what comes out of a discussion with kids. Children think uninhibitedly; norms are rarely an obstacle to their wishes! Because it’s not ‘boxed’ thinking, often it spurns innovation.

Speak with a total outsider to your field of work and toss around some ideas for input. If nothing, you’ll at least get an insight into how convincing or flawed your ideas are.

5. Keep Moving

Steer away from stagnancy. Agreed that it sounds big and is much much harder to do. But there are so many ways this can become part of your system and who knows, you might actually develop a liking for it.

Keep restructuring your everyday routine: eating, sleeping, exercising, socialising.

Redecorate the space you live in or even better, move out!

Pick a character like Johnny Depp, Shashi Tharoor, Oprah or Spongebob Squarepants and take on their persona for the day. Become a method actor – walk like them, talk like them, try to think like them; give yourself the importance you ascribe to them.

Start talking to new people – the kind you would perceive as weird, uninteresting or with opposing views.

When you begin to feel extra comfortable in a setting, it can sometimes be good to move away from it.

Remember, creativity lies is in seeking new experiences, making connections and allowing realisations to strike. That’s how ideas are born.

Pahi Gangwar
Graphic Designer


Space Design

Earlier this week we spoke about the need for office spaces to stimulate creativity and innovation. Today we’re excited to share our favourite creative work spaces from around the world…let us know what you think. Do you wish your work space was like one of these?

It is very important to bring context to the design of your office space – it must be relevant to the work your company does. Simply introducing some quirky furniture, a foosball table and using bright colours isn’t the answer; unless of course, that is what is relevant to your work!

Here are some offices that have designed creative work spaces that are relevant to what they do, nudging their inhabitants’ creativity in the direction of their respective companies’ cultures.

Pionen Data Center, Stockholm

The location of Pionen’s data center makes for a dramatic setting. When the company got hold of this space which used to be a nuclear shelter during the Cold War era, they didn’t miss the opportunity to create something truly ‘cool’.

Located 100 feet below ground, the office is like a space station, complete with greenhouses, artificial waterfalls and simulated daylight. In fact, the inspiration behind the design was 70’s sci-fi movies – the perfect setting for a ‘high security data center’!

This is a great example of a design that puts humans first and boosts employee morale, even though only around fifteen people work here.

Rather than just concentrating on technical hardware we decided to put humans in focus,… Of course, the security, power, cooling, network, etc, are all top notch, but the people designing data centers often (always!) forget about the humans that are supposed to work with the stuff.

– Jon Karlung, CEO at Bahnhof (the ISP behind Pionen)

If an office space whose conference room floor resembles that of the Moon, whose entrance door is 16 inches thick and can withstand the impact of a nuclear bomb doesn’t make you feel important, we don’t know what will!


Social game developer Zynga definitely lives out their company culture at their headquarters in San Francisco. Their office plan has an atrium in the centre of this 6 storey building and open work desk layouts.

Everything about the space screams ‘social’ and ‘fun’. It allows for pet visitations and has an informal casual environment, which encourages creativity, and allows employees to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Rolex Learning Center

This one is not an office, but still is a work space in a sense, for students to learn, experiment and ideate. Part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, The Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, houses one of Europe’s largest scientific libraries (with over 500,000 printed works), a cafe and food court, workspaces, a multi purpose hall and a bookshop amongst other things.

Designed by Japanese architectural duo SANAA, this unusual, undulating building is evocative of the way humans interact and learn.

Human movements are are not linear, like the way a train moves, but curve in a more organic way.
With straight lines we can only create a crossroads, but with curves we can create more diverse interactions.

– Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA

The open design integrates with the idea of continuous discovery and endless possibilities – key elements and desired outcomes of learning.

Selgas Cano Architecture Office

Research suggests that working close to nature improves creativity and productivity. Architectural firm SelgasCano’s office in Madrid is the epitome of biophilic design, with their office being located in the middle of a forest!

The tubular building, which has one entire wall and a part of the ceiling made of glass, is half sunken into the forest floor, which means that one is at eye level with the forest floor when sitting at one’s desk.

Needless to say, there is no need for artificial lighting inside the office during the day and one only has to look out of the window or up at the ceiling for inspiration and to enjoy the many soothing and motivational benefits of being ensconced in nature, such as falling leaves, wildlife on the move or the changing daily and seasonal forest landscape.

Workbench Projects

Right here, in the hometown of Zeitgeist, Bangalore – India, is a workspace that really makes you want to jump in and tinker with something the minute you enter!

Workbench Projects, located under the Ulsoor Metro is a place for inventors and learners to prototype and test their ideas. This makerspace is split into several sections so there are areas for discussion, laser printing, designing, woodwork and electronic projects – all with a very ‘workshop’ vibe to it, motivating you as you rub shoulders with others working on something that just may be the next big thing.

These examples bring out what we spoke about in our earlier article, How To Design An Office That Stimulates Creativity, and clearly highlight how an office environment can go a long way in not only encouraging innovative thinking, but also other important elements, such as boosting employee morale, subtly nudging one towards a change in corporate culture, and gently breaking down the barriers that prevent networking and exchange of ideas.

Need some ideas on how to make your office space one that induces creativity for your particular line of work? Zeitgeist can help – reach out to us today!


Space Design

When it comes to the working world, should spaces that encourage creativity only be reserved for the offices of designers, inventors and other disciplines of the ‘creative’ kind?

Zeitgeist thinks not.

There is enough research to suggest that the firms that will survive in a rapidly changing and unpredictable future will be the ones that consistently innovate. Accordingly to Gensler:

“The drive to innovate stems from the continued effects of globalization, increased competition, and the steady shift toward a knowledge economy.”

People make a company, (yes, even those that will be AI-ridden in the future) and so it would follow that the ability of people to be creative, motivated and innovative is the need of the hour in any organisation.

But could the design of a workspace help promote creativity and innovation? Could your office space help make elastic thinkers of its inhabitants?

Zeitgeist thinks so.

Today we’ll explore some of the design elements that both startups and well established businesses can integrate into their offices to encourage and develop innovative thinkers.

Beyond developing creativity, a space also has the ability to inculcate a sense of pride and belonging in the people that work there. Further, just as a person can influence a space, so can the design of a space have an impact on people and subtly nudge them towards a desired corporate culture. This is especially useful when making the shift from archaic and often deeply ingrained hierarchical ways of working to progressive ways of working that are collaborative and transparent.


If you are looking for an office space or moving an existing business to a new space, seize the opportunity to nurture creativity from the get-go by opting for the best location and office structure you can afford.

According to THNK, locations that lend themselves to creativity include those that allow for “openness, serendipity and outside inspiration.” This could be an office with floor to ceiling glass, perhaps located at the center of a pulsating area that buzzes with activity, (much like THNK’s own office in Amsterdam that is surrounded by other creative companies, a public park, jazz bars and cinemas with lots of cultural events) one that lets in plenty of natural sunlight and/or one that has an inspiring view.

Not all of us however have the luxury of being able to locate our offices in such idyllic settings, but there are several things that can be done within an existing office space to nurture innovation too.


An open design – one that doesn’t make a person feel that he must remain confined to a particular area – is said to be the best for fostering creativity. Creativity and innovation stem from people interacting freely with each other – exchanging thoughts, sharing opinions and working together to develop ideas.

You can’t say to someone, ‘I want you to think differently, build differently, behave differently’ – and then say, ‘Go back to your desk.’ It absolutely doesn’t square with the idea that we want you to create growth. As founders and as leaders, we need to break people’s environments to truly change the way people think and create.

– David Kidder, Co-Founder – Bionic Solution

The process of innovating is made up of several phases – some that require messy, collaborative work, some that call for quiet contemplative reflection and others that call for quickly experimenting with numerous ideas to bring them to fruition for testing. So the workspace must also include private spaces for the times when deep concentration is required. The best way to achieve this is to develop a flexible workspace.

What comprises a flexible workplace? Think movable partitions and whiteboards, multi-use furniture, a floor you can mark, a wall you can illustrate and doodle on, a standing work table to induce the feeling of agility, little niches of solitude – the possibilities are endless!


Duraflor has 4 excellent guidelines to keep in mind when designing your innovative work space. Does your workplace have all four?


To further cultivate an atmosphere of agility, introduce elements that aid in quickly making an idea understandable. Innovation is born from the freedom to quickly prototype or express an idea from what’s at hand. So make sure that things like markers, PostIt notes, cardboard boxes, pins, clips, strings, chalk, glue, tape, Lego pieces….you get the idea – basically, anything that would help you to visualise or make a simple model of what you have in mind – are always close at hand.


But the MOST important thing to induce innovation, (which is also the thing that the leaders of well established companies sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around) is to build a culture of creativity. This calls for a change in the mind set first of all of top management. Red tape and bureaucracy do not have a place in innovative organisations; neither does working in silos; neither does a fear of failure.

This kind of thinking can be tough for older companies to imbibe, entrenched as they sometimes are in practices that follow strict hierarchy. Here’s where designing the right kind of environment can gently nudge people into thinking and ultimately behaving differently.

Are you interested in developing a workspace to steer your company towards a future where it will be relevant, valuable and thriving with people raring to come up with the next big idea?

Zeitgeist’s venture design services can help you get there – reach out to us today to be ready for tomorrow!

Next week we’ll explore some of our favourite creative office spaces from around the world. Make sure you tune in!


Space Design

What is now proved was once only imagined

-William Blake

Without imagination, there would be no progress. Architecture has a huge part to play in the direction mankind advances. It is responsible for defining the multitude of interactions and dialogues among people, their surroundings and the circumstances that govern life itself. It also determines the direction of our future – sometimes adapting and evolving, at other times, defying norms, and hopefully, revolutionising the way we live and experience life. It is important that architecture constantly learns, reviving and reversing the way we live to ensure not only preservation of life but its budding and, without creativity and imagination this would be impossible.

This series explores the future of architecture by looking at various examples covering existing and upcoming buildings, and those ideas currently under research and development.

In the first part of the series, Zeitgeist will look at the Da Vinci Tower of Dubai, a dynamic 80-storey skyscraper by David Fisher.

What is Dynamic Architecture?

David Fisher defines it as:

architecture as part of the environment, adjusting to the sun and the wind, to the view and to our momentary requirements

The term ‘Dynamic’ is a discipline within mechanics responsible for movement of objects with the effect of forces. Movement of a building is known as Dynamic Architecture and it involves a fourth dimension – time. The beauty of Dynamic Architecture is that the building’s form and shape are constantly changing, making it fluid, while exhibiting the building’s ability to adapt to change.

The Beginning

At the mere age of five, David Fisher’s mother use to take him to watch the Mediterranean sunset every evening – a beautiful gift, to be able have dinner with a magnificent view everyday. From a very young age, Fisher was enamored by time, the only constant that is ever-changing. The sunsets made him reflect on life, its movement; a powerful visual – the sun consumed by the water and how it happened everyday!

The Eureka Moment

One late afternoon in New York, David Fisher was visiting a friend who lived on the 51st floor of the Olympic Tower. His friend and owner of the apartment said “David, did you notice that you can see the East River and the Hudson river both from my apartment, and nobody else in this building has this view. I am the only one who has such a view.” David replied, “Why don’t we rotate the entire floor so that everybody gets a view.” He went back and worked on it, discovering that if he rotated each floor separately with different speeds in different directions then the building would change shape continuously, and was astounded with the results.

From this point on, Fisher’s designs changed with time, not just in shape, but also in functionality.

Everything is changing and everything is changeable in our lives

– David Fisher

The Manifestation of Fisher’s Dream – The Da Vinci Tower, Dubai

David Fisher named it The Da Vinci tower in honor of Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest visionaries and inventors.

Because Leonardo Da Vinci did everything; he invented from the gill box to the helicopter, the submarine to the milling machine…Everything, but, he didn’t think about one – the rotating building.

– David Fisher

So Fisher created the first rotating tower, The Da Vinci Tower, a concept yet to be executed. Planned construction is anticipated to commence this year and is to be completed by 2020.

The enormous, towering building would have floors that rotate, completing a 360-degree rotation every 90 minutes. So there would be no need to pay a higher price for the view you wished for, as you would be able to change the view of your suite anytime you wanted, seeing the sunrise and the sunset from the same suite that you live in. The suites would enjoy all four cardinal directions covering the building. Further, sustainable innovation is also evident as the tower would be equipped with wind turbines in between each floor within a 2 feet gap that generates electricity for the tenants and supports the energy requirement for the rotation. The penthouse residents would be able to park their car at their apartments. Not only will the building sustain the energy requirement for itself, but it will be the first digital building actually producing energy, and supplying energy to a further seven buildings in its neighbourhood.

Construction Methodology

Traditional construction takes 2000 workers, 6 weeks for 1 floor and 30 months for the entire building whereas dynamic architecture will take 90 workers, 6 days for 1 floor and 18 months for the entire building. This method of construction technique is the future. Dynamic architecture is keeping up with time, and changing with time. There are studies being conducted on prefabricated modules for building vertical cities especially in war-affected areas, where workforce and construction time play a crucial role. The building will be made in a factory and shipped directly to the site. Further, the ability to produce energy not only for itself but for the surrounding buildings is the future.

Mechanism of the building


Our Reflections

When the sky’s not the limit but the beginning, you will never stop yourself from imagining.

Imagining the impossible will draw a lot of criticism, but translate that into your challenge and a concern that you must address. It should never become a hindrance but rather a design parameter.

And how do you go about it? Creativity and passion will help you ride the storm and conquer the impossible – sometimes you may reach for the stars but you might walk away with the moon instead – no complaints there! The key though, apart from all these attributes, is the application of a holistic approach to the problem when deriving a solution – the framework of Design Thinking, which I am proud to say is a core part of the Zeitgeist process.

Raoul Parekh
Founder & Chief – Design Management

with research support by
Mahek Khan
Designer – Space


Brand Strategy, Business Tips & How To's, Design Strategy, Space Design

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.



Two of the major trends of the past decade that have contributed to the rise in the demand for eco-friendly and health conscious products have been sustainability and health & wellness.

What Consumers Want

A survey published by Nielson a few years ago revealed that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. With millennials, the percentage was even higher at 73%.

Another report by Unilever last year indicated that 88% of the shoppers surveyed in India “feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced.”

The Nielson Global Health & Wellness Survey of 2015, which polled 30,000 respondents from 60 countries revealed that 65% were cutting down on fats, 62% were cutting down on chocolates and sugar and 57% were opting to eat more natural and fresh foods, in an attempt to become more healthy.

What do all these statistics tell us? In a nutshell, that most consumers today want the companies they buy from to incorporate:
a) sustainable, ethical and responsible practices and,
b) practices that help the consumer stay healthy.

This article examines how these two prevailing trends have pushed some companies – including giants in their respective industries – to alter their strategies to fall in line with the demand for sustainable and health conscious practices and/or products.


High street fashion brands like H&M, Zara and Marks & Spencer have begun to offer recycling opportunities in their stores globally, where customers can trade in their discarded clothes for in-store discount vouchers. Some companies recycle some or all of the clothes to actually make new items of clothing out of them, while others hand over the clothes to charitable organisations that distribute them to people in need. In India, consumers can now recycle clothes at H&M and Marks & Spencer stores across the country.

In this example, large global brands have been pushed to come up with ideas that tie in with their consumers’ desire to contribute to sustainability and/or the ‘feel good’ factor that accompanies it.


When you think of health conscious brands, McDonald’s is not the first name that comes to mind. But earlier this year, the fast food chain announced that its Indian menu would now offer healthier options, with the company tweeting “We’re listening to all health-conscious people out there.”

Some of the changes the company has made to its Indian menu include:
– Whole grain, instead of refined flour wraps
– 25% more dietary fibre in its patties
– 40% less oil in its mayonnaise
– A reduction in the fat content of its Soft Serve cone, which is now 96% fat free.

This is another example of a global giant engaging in activities quite far removed from their regular practices, in an attempt to retain market share and offer new products that are in tune with the changing times.

Globally, many other fast food chains such as KFC, Burger King and Taco Bell also offer healthier menu options in addition to their regular menus.

Is It Enough?

Admittedly, many companies, including some of the ones mentioned in this article, have come under the scanner for merely ‘greenwashing’ and not ensuring that their overall strategy is truly in line with greener (or healthier) practices. Some companies have also been accused of using such strategies to merely charge higher prices and/or to encourage consumerism.

But the moves made by these companies do at least indicate a step in the right direction.

Any company that wishes to survive in the market must sit up and take notice of what its consumer wants – which is exactly what these examples indicate has happened.

One hopes then that the moves highlighted above are just the beginning and that it is only a matter of time before such companies begin to innovate and incorporate long term strategies that are truly sustainable and healthier.

The examples also highlight the power that lies with the consumer to bring about innovation. If enough consumers demand products and practices that are sustainable, ethical and responsible, companies who wish to survive will have no choice but to figure out a way to supply them…a win-win situation for the consumer, the company and our planet at large.

Is it time to change things at your company? Zeitgeist uses the platform of design thinking to develop innovative, long-term solutions that are relevant today as well as in the future. Reach out to us for all your Design Strategy and Design Management requirements.

Gitanjali Singh Cherian
Marketing Manager