As I write this, the lobby here at the ACE hotel in New York is a raucous hive and I'm happy to be tucked into a small but comfortable room upstairs. Justin and I have come to NYC as the second stop on a three week trip that will cover six cities on five continents. This trip is largely about meeting strategic designers around the world and to see their work in context. It's about finding champion projects that make the endeavor of strategic design tangible and accessible to a broader audience.
On Wednesday we met up in London to visit the Helen Hamlyn Centre where Maja and Rama gave us an in-depth introduction to the work they have been doing with DePuy. It was a great way to start the research and it's going to be interesting as we gain a more complete understanding of the project by meeting their clients and other groups who were touched by the design work. One thing is definitely clear: the importance of having a client who advocates for design is immeasurably large.
We also had the chance to drop by live|work and hear about some of their projects, particularly Make It Work done for the Sunderland City Council. With a large population of long term unemployed people in Sunderland live|work were asked to help develop a system that would bring inactivity rates down. By coordinating among the 280+ organizations that already offer services to unemployed and in-need populations, their solution helps match the right kind of support to the needs of the right individual which increases results and decreases costs due to wasted or ineffectual services. This video gives a nice introduction but there's certainly a lot more to dig in to.
Marco made a day trip to London for an interview with a great magazine which we are very excited about, so we took the opportunity to spend a solid five hours taking stock of the past month and planning for the next few ahead of us. These day-long meetings seem to work better the further they are from the office, but I suspect that mostly has to do with the fact that your calendar is marked out-of-office and thus a clutter of meeting invites is avoided. We've been having stock-taking meetings every couple months and it's working well for us as significant markers between which weekly and daily coordination fits in. Set the strategy, adjust regularly.
Despite the fact that it was absolutely gorgeous in New York today Adriel, Ezra, Justin, and I spent the day locked in a conference room hashing out developments in the content of the studio briefs. There are lots of ideas flowing and we're starting to narrow in on some critical dimensions that will bracket each one of the studios. The difficulty in this sort of situation is to strike the right balance between providing a stable enough frame that the studio participants have something to react to, while maintaining enough flexibility that the framework will be durable. We're getting there.
This week: more, more, more. Meetings with friends old and new; a full day of conversation with the Jonathan Rose Companies about their holistic approach to development; a kickoff meeting with the talented people of XOXCO, who are going to be developing the new HDL website; and then heading to the airport and on to South America.