Our Infomural finds a home at the London Transport Museum

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

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Back in July, our Think & Visualise team had the pleasure of working with Arup and TFL to bring the future of transport to life during the Transported By Design Festival on Regent’s Street. Today, you can find our Infomural in it’s new home in the front entrance of the London Transport Museum.

The full-colour Infomural can be found just right of the front doors of the museum. Created live over the course of the one-day event, it captures the cumulative vision of thousands of participants. During the festival, attendees where asked “What will transport in London look like in 2040?”. Participants shared visions of a greener, more connected and sustainable world – with the occasional hover car thrown in for good measure. These ideas are elaborated upon in the text surrounding the infomural within the museum.

The festival was a wonderful opportunity for us to work with the public as a whole.  We can’t be happier to be included in the London Transport Museum!

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Photo: Innovation Arts Infomural at the London Transport Museum.

Capturing Shell’s Making The Future Accelerator

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Last week we attended Shell’s Make The Future Festival at the Olympic Park here in London. The festival brought more than 30,000 people together to share ideas and innovation for the future of global energy.

The Shell Accelerator was a one-day event during the festival that accelerated thinking and team-building through collaborative workshops interspersed with engaging talks and pitches from keynote speaker. We sent James and Jordana over to capture the content from the Shell Accelerator through graphic recording.

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If you want to read more about the event or see some of the amazing exhibitions that featured click over to their website here:

http://www.shell.co.uk/energy-and-innovation/make-the-future/london.html

TBDFest – we join Arup & TFL on Regent Street!

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

How do you suppose a four-year-old might envision transportation for London in 2040? If you suspected flying cars, bubble buses and bunny scooters you are remarkably right. We asked four-year-olds, 90-year-olds and everyone in between that very question at Transported By Design – a TFL festival that took over Regent Street this past Sunday.

The festival was part of an ongoing initiative to educate and involve the public in the design of TFL services. It presented TFL designs from the past and present and imagined how these designs might be reinvented for the future. Partnering with ARUP, we brought public projections of the future to life with graphic recording.

We asked the public carefully crafted questions about how transport might look in 2040 and as the answers came in, we got to work! Scribes Jordana and James captured the individual ideas in two tessellated grids, while Eddie distilled the information into one incredible Infomural.

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It was an amazing day – working collaboratively with thousands of people is a rare opportunity and we relished it!

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Photo: Check us out with the Arup team!

Plus, we woke up this morning to this surprise! Take a look at Eddie on the BBC today:

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If you want to read the full BBC write-up of TBD festival you can find it online at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36698617

We join Innovate Finance at London Tech Week!

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

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We just got back from scribing for Innovate Finance’s “Money Talks: VCs Take The Stage”. Reversing the usual order of things, the event had VCs making pitches to start ups rather than the other way around.

The reversal is indicative of the changing investment climate for Fintech, the fastest growing industry in the UK. Many start-ups are sceptical of Venture Capitalists and investors backed by large institutions. The nature of their business allows start-ups to get prototypes off the ground without huge investment backing. However, as the industry grows, working with a larger institution can offer its own rewards. Insight, managerial support and infrastructure are as useful to start-ups as money and VC’s are willing to offer expertise as well as capital.

As a highlight of London Tech Week, the talks made clear that banks and VCs are taking greater notice of Fintech. It’s a booming market with increased investment, at the forefront of innovation. As one of the UK’s strongest business prospects, we are sure to see Fintech start-ups grow quickly from their humble roots. We sent Jordana to scribe the output of the day through graphic recording.

If you want to learn more about London Tech Week and Innovate Finance’s talks for the week look no further: http://londontechnologyweek.co.uk/event/money-talks-vcs-take-stage/

We get hip with the kids at TedxTeen in London…

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

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TEDxTeen took place in London this year at the O2. The theme was “untapped” and covered the subject of firsts – initial ideas, original innovations, first-time collaborations, and more. The event gathering together brilliant young minds for two sessions of talks that were moving as well as informative.

1MakundaAngulo-300dpiOur scribes captured content throughout the day touching upon everything from street dancing to asylum seeking in the UK. They had the pleasure of speaking to some inspiring young people during the event breaks as well. If the passionate, informed attendees of this event are our future, we’re in good hands.

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Find out more about the day’s talks at:

http://tedxteen.com

TED Global 2016 – this time Geneva!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

This year’s TED Global took place in Geneva Switzerland. As we flew in over the snowy Alps we were filled with excitement. Headed to an equally impressive summit (excuse the puns) we were about to hear talks from incredible thinkers, creatives, and innovators from around the world. This year boasted huge names – notably Yanis Varoufakis – and we couldn’t wait to capture the rich content that lay in store for us.

The annual Global summit is divided into two sessions with musical interludes in each. This year, we captured content on macroeconomics, virtual reality, regenerating brain tissue, world travelling and so much more. Attendees were really pleased with the final Infomural and all the snapping of photos meant we could also take a peak at the other amazing exhibitors – who can resist a chance to try a VR headset!

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As part of our participation with TED we created a comic capturing the content from a few of the talks. Click the image below to have a read:

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What a brilliant way to close a year!

If you want to see more from TED Global 2015 check out their full write up at:

Decisive ideas, scientific breakthroughs, critical junctures: A recap of TEDGlobal>Geneva

Inspiring the Work Environment by Design

Monday, December 14th, 2015

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We have begun to touch on the components of a work environment that enable creativity to flourish and productivity to increase. Each of these components can make a difference, but when brought together with the right skill and intention, the effect is extraordinary. The environment is a holistic element of a complex, adaptive system. Jan Smuts, who coined the term “holism” in 1926, defined it as the “tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts”. What nature does without our intervention, we must do in man-made environments by design.

Yet looking at the actual designs around us today, we still see determined and rigid solutions in which spatial composition has been the main objective. There are many speculative real estate developments, for example, which do not consider any particular client’s needs and aim primarily at a maximum amount of anonymous rental office space. The same thinking often continues inside the company, where ignorance or a wish to save money results in anonymous rooms divided into identical workplaces.

The most common approach to office space still reckons with one workspace per person whilst imposing negotiation and meeting rooms are considered separately. Many of these individual and group spaces are regularly unoccupied. Meanwhile, the budget for furnishing the office is divided between personal workplaces and a representative zone, altogether forgetting the background zone. Yet, it is common knowledge that the coffee machine is the best communication tool and that the most productive moments at conferences are coffee breaks. Why is this forgotten while filling the office plan with desks and chairs?

And let’s think again about who uses modern office space: It is easy to agree that working practices have changed. Today’s office work no longer consists of only data entry and processing; the linear work arrangement has become parallel and serial, meaning we should be able us to use the worker, time, and space much more intensively. In addition, work is more creative, and most of the creative work is done in changing workgroups that require a flexible use of time and space: there is no more need for physically emphasised hierarchy. And of course everyone can see what mobile phones and laptops have done to our working time and workplace. So how do we see through these changes to the new requirements? What is the new model?

In HIVE, each individual performs a fixed task in the production chain – usually from nine to five. The work does not require interaction or autonomy; the space is divided into an endless number of identical working places. Thanks to automation this past typology is disappearing or changing into DEN-type, more intelligence-requiring activity, where teamwork is of primary importance. The space planning in a den-type office is mostly open, but there is still not much personal independence. The CELL-type is used mostly for work requiring concentrated thinking (lawyers, research centres) where workers have great autonomy in using their time and in the content of their work, but few possibilities for interaction.
It is believed that as information technology develops, the independent concentration type of work and project-based teamwork will be combined in most enterprises. In the new “transactional” office, both interaction and independence will be maximised. The metaphoric CLUB is a place where people gather and communicate, while the actual work is done somewhere else. It is predicted that more and more companies will begin to work like Hollywood film teams that are formed separately for each project.

The premise of the activity setting approach is that one place – an all-purpose workstation per person -no longer suffices.  Instead, people need multiple workplaces.  These specialized settings span the variety of -often contradictory – office worker requirements.  As tasks change, people move to various specialized activity settings.  This movement is healthy, it makes jobs more interesting and encourages participation in ad hoc temporary groups and greater use of specialized costly equipment.

Robert Kelley, 1985

Because today’s workspace must be a multi-task environment, serving many clients and many different knowledge tasks at once, and because different tasks have different spatial, emotional and tooling requirements, the contemporary environment should be designed to be both flexible and capable of being divided into specialized zones. Within each zone, there may be different sub-areas, each with its own use and feel. In addition, many of these zones can expand and contract, thus, they can be configured to be larger or smaller, to be part of or totally separate from each other as the work demands.

Looking beyond the allocation of space, remember that as a form of communication our environment can be denoted as being multi-sensory; visual, aural, tactile, spatial and so on: “The will of the epoch translated into space”. An effective working environment should inspire workers, showing them that they are needed, and express the distinctive face and values of the enterprise. An office should be a place with an aura of its own. (Contrast this with the kind of anonymous “non-places”, – planes, ships, airports, supermarkets and indeed offices with which we are increasingly surrounded, where the design aim seems to be to eliminate differentiation altogether).

Several principles and design goals drive the basic layout of an environment that communicates effectively: Its image must include a spatial pattern that relates objects within it, relates the environment to the observer, and to other objects in its surrounding community; it must exhibit an architectural grammar and geometry appropriate to its specific mission and fit within the grammar and style of its location; it must control its boundaries in terms of access, light, sound, sight lines, and it must do this without presenting a defensive posture. The environment must include spatial ambiguity – the high variety that creates interest. It must include sheltered places for quiet reflection as well as open spaces for collaboration and expansive thinking. Paths, boundaries, regions, nodes and landmarks add variety, flexibility, build relationships and communication and facilitate feedback and change. To be psychologically comfortable, an environment must be physically comfortable and allow variation in the colour and texture of the furniture, levels and quality of lighting, and acoustical environment.

The evolution of our working environments is an on-going challenge; neither patchwork fixes nor wholesale redesign will suffice in today’s rapidly changing world. As people expand their horizons, so too must the environment expand its ability to serve. Individual elements must be created which can be replaced when outgrown with new elements that still complement the entire system. Frank Lloyd Wright felt the task of the designer was to design for what people can become–to stretch people to reach their potential. Today’s knowledge workers require an environment that challenges them to reach both their own potential and that of their organization whilst also facilitating that progress. The designer must see and communicate through the environment its conscious ability to evolve.

Complex natural systems are our model for successful, creative, evolving work environments. Our daily workspaces must be engineered to be both organic and cybernetic, adjusting to user requirements minutely and without fanfare. Those of you who have worked with us on an Innovation Arts Design Session will recognize these principles ‘in miniature’ in the temporary, mobile environments that we establish for each session. It is for all the reasons described above that we insist on creating the right environment to support the work we do with you. Our dedicated team designs each environment specifically for each client and each challenge, and over the course of the Session it will shift and evolve to guide, mirror, or lead the participants’ journey as they collaborate on the task in hand.

Huddled up with Mindshare, Channel 4 and Jon Snow!

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Huddle is an amazing event that collects leading media, tech, culture, and business thought-leaders for a day of exhibitions, talks, and discussion. Hosted by Mindshare, the festival allows pioneers from different industries to connect, collaborate and share their output with the public.

We were there to help with that output, providing live graphic recording. We sat in on CHANNEL 4’s “Stories About People” panel, with Jon Snow. Tech was at the forefront of these discussions – the panel debated the role tech plays in helping uncover stories and in their telling. It was interesting to see where traditional techniques in journalism have overlapped with technological invention, and how these overlaps have developed into innovative solutions.

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For more information, check out the Mindshare website:

http://www.mindshareworld.com/uk/about/huddle

The Uninspiring Office and the Bored Room

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

officeThe idea of architecture as a language – a form of communication that affects us – is in itself not new, but brings to our discussions another context for our cycle of understanding; how we observe, reflect and interpret. Architecture is the integration of form and space and those principles that control their organization and these elements are the basis of the experiential pattern language that envelops us in the workplace.

Architecture results from integrated acts of philosophy, art, engineering, craftsmanship and business and – when perfection is sought – allows no compromise between these disciplines. A good piece of architecture directly supports a specific concept of life and work style and acts as a physical, visual, tactile and symbolic guide for its inhabitants. Conversely, bad architecture can work in direct opposition to those inhabitants’ objectives and culture, as per the title of this post. This idea that a work of architecture can also be a productive or counterproductive tool of human economy is relatively new. What is also novel is the idea that the workplace can be an expression of living art, and that this is not only possible but necessary in today’s world.

If we are to design our workspaces with the intent of using the most effective architectural pattern language, we need to get under the skin of how everything speaks. The language of architecture is largely symbolic; specific shapes, forms and textures invoke particular meanings. Just as the expressionist movement in literature gave birth to analysis by metaphor and symbolism, so too has expressionism had its influence over architecture. The early 1920s bore testimony to this architectural influence where buildings were designed and constructed to express or symbolize their use thus aiming to integrate both form and content into a coherent, more meaningful whole, for example the Volkstheatre Project, 1921 or Einstein Tower Observatory, 1920.

In the book ‘Metaphors We Live by’, Lackoff and Johnson build a theory that we live and express ourselves in terms of metaphor. This notion will be examined in greater detail later when I will talk about what we mean by ‘Possibility’. However architecture provides some firm examples of this theory. The Renaissance movement provided this language, its masters drawing the (organic) parallels of buildings as life forms in themselves. A buiding rises up, or it lies in a particular way. It has a front and a back, a face, a silhouette, a profile. It has a heart, a nerve-centre. It has a top, a crown, related to the sky and a base, a foot, related to the ground. Windows look out. Doors open wide. Perhaps no building is more symbolic that Antoni Gaudi’s ‘Casa Batlló’ with its bone-like structure and death mask balconies symbolic of the human experience in Catalonia’s quest for independence.

The power of the metaphor here is great. As the imposing designs of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque all inspire superlative adjectives, so too are the feelings they stir in the soul. Compare this symbolism with that of most modern corporate architecture and it is little surprise they pale in significance, often inhuman, dead, faceless structures.

Intentionally or otherwise we have in recent times ignored the language of architecture in our workplaces, the timeless way of building as Christopher Alexander calls it, at the expense of functionalism. Our offices are uninspiring. That they are a mish-mash of metaphors at best cannot be denied. That they are malapropisms is probably just as correct.

So, back to the Bored Room, and our quest to bring to a powerful and inspiring voice to workspace architecture. Generally speaking, todays offices are boring places, at least from the point of view of art, design and architecture. Yet, they are precisely the places where many of us spend most of our productive time. How did we get here? Many contemporary ideas about the office date from the times of the industrial revolution, when accountants were gathered into office buildings erected next to the factories. The economic strategies that had modernised the industry were directly transferred into the paperwork. It was a simple, clear and very unambiguous procedure that followed the same assembly line principles governing the action in the factory halls. The office was a master class of simultaneity; the system functioned only when all its parts were in place – from nine a.m. to five p.m.

Alvin Toffler said in 1985 that:

“the corporate environment has changed so swiftly and fundamentally in the past two decades that structures designed for success in an industrial environment are almost by definition inappropriate today.”

Over thirty years on, and whilst those changes have done nothing but accelerate our workspaces have barely evolved at all. The time for us to take back control of our surroundings own us is long overdue.

A rich, varied environment, with ample communication, continuous learning, rapid feedback, knowledge management, and readily available tools are key to eliminating the barriers to human creativity and increasing productivity. Flexible space, open areas, new types of furniture and complex technological systems will increase the amount of informal communication that is necessary to develop communities of practice and build networks. There is inherent value in people from all levels of the organization working in close proximity to each other. In designing this new type of environment, we must go beyond incremental or even major changes to existing workplace designs. We need something unique, innovative, and totally new.

We join WIRED 2015…

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

WIRED always proves to be a window into the future. The two day annual event collects innovators, inventors, and creatives who disrupt, change and transform our worlds in brilliant, progressive ways.

This year featured talks on everything from self-driving cars to big data. Our scribes were in the middle of the hub throughout the event capturing content throughout.

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Picture: Look at Eddie go!

If you want to read more about the event and see more of Eddie’s scribing follow the link!

http://www.wired.co.uk/gallery/carlo-ratti-city-data-mit-wired2015-gallery

 

 

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