Thursday, June 04, 2009

MBA Design Leadership elective - session 7

Emerging practices in design

For this class, the MBA students travelled to London. First we visited the Hub at Kings Cross to meet Inderpaul Johar of architecture practice 00:, who designed it. Then we went to see the newly-opened show SuperContemporary at the Design Museum, followed by a visit to service design consultancy Engine. Together, these encounters offered a rich set of experiences illuminating some of the current conversations within design practice.

The Hub is a fast growing enterprise offering members desk space at convenient locations in major cities. Unlike other such offerings, The Hub is designed around a shared ethos with a particular focus on social entrepreneurs. Involved in designing both the physical space and the way it operates in practice, Indy explained how the design of the social architecture is critical to the success of the operation – for example, having a strong gatekeeping function, and employing a “host” who helps people connect with one another. We also saw how the physical arrangement of space, combined with these practices, resulted in a viable and profitable social enterprise with much higher use of space than similar ventures. Indy talked more broadly about his firm's practice and the ways they aim to design sustainable institutions, not just physical assets.

Later, we visited Engine Group, one the leading service design consultancies, where Aviv Katz and Gavin Maguire talked us through two projects - one public sector and one commercial. In their work for Kent County Council, Engine have helped create the Social Innovation Lab for Kent (SILK). This work has resulted in the council's own teams learning design approaches and methods and developing new tools to help use design to lead to innovation in council services. (See this video). We also heard Engine's experience of working with Virgin Atlantic on the design of the terminal within a terminal in London's Heathrow, where insight gathering was used to generate service principles on which to base the design of the customer experience delivered through various touchpoints.

I hope to do a separate post about SuperContemporary, the new show curated by Daniel Charny at the Design Museum open until October 4, but if I run out of time, I’ve included a few images here including a visionary garden hanging over London's Trafalagar Square by El Ultimo Grito with Urban Salon.

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