Although the London Design Festival is over now, we were excited to have been involved in a whole array of events, installations and talks that made for an interesting and exhausting week. From participating in a high-level discussion at the Global Design Forum, engaging V&A visitors in a workshop about Designing for The British Housing Crisis to designing and building the Tent London Press Office with the collaboration of press, exhibitors and organisers, the week was full of engaging design processes!
Joining the panel as a speaker at the Global Design Forum was a definitely a highlight; presenting the opportunity to talk about codesign and collaboration with others of like-minded people. In the space of a year the topic has become mainstream and evident. When I spoke last year at 100% Design and presented the Hanging Room, there were plenty of very interesting questions about our approach and how we work. This year, and particularly at Global Design Forum, the debate had moved forward. Instead we talked about what we can do with codesign and collaboration as a key component of organisations.
Being joined on the panel by Nathan, Cecilia, Gadi and Georgie was a wonderful experience, one of those exciting moments when you realise that there is momentum, interest and evidence in and for our way of doing things. Nathan and Cecilia in particular, working for OPEN IDEO and LEGO respectively, gave some Blue Chip weight, and Gadi, working recently with Google added an important Tech perspective. Georgie, as Managing Partner of Made By Many, chaired the debate across a variety of associated work and our many examples.
Studio TILT strives to ‘engage the end-user in the design process.’ All of those on the panel do the same, appropriate to their industry. For me to debate this as a given is so exciting. My perspective as a spatial designer adds that ‘the designing process must transform people’s relationship with space and the making of space.’ I love to give an example that David Lan, Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre, talks about in our book. He suggests that the extent of our physical experience of space can be transformed. Consider learning to drive, which is an incredibly complex series of motor functions, employing all our senses. When we learn to transform the edge of our physical experience from our skin to the ‘skin’ of the car – for instance you can ‘feel’ the space between two bollards, or a mixture of relative speeds on a motorway. This is quite extraordinary and demonstrates the way that a design process can transform how we think about space.
This transformative approach to space allows you to bring in notions of identity, brand and customer experience into the process of space design. In subtle ways it forms interpretations of space that are connected to our tacit knowledge, and our emotional and experiential make-ups. It is much deeper than opinion or conscious thought. This is why architecture can be so powerful. I had mentioned in the previous post that by engaging the end user in the design process it leads to better design. And this is the reason it leads to better design. If we are able to create a feeling about a space, to enable that feeling to help understand and design that space with a community of users, we can create incredible spaces.
Georgie described a shiver in the room when I talked about David Lan’s example. It’s that feeling you get when something ‘touches’ you, an instantaneous alignment of senses, conscious thought and feeling. This is what a design process can do, and ultimately what a space can do as well.