Why EXPERIENCE Thinking? (And not just Design Thinking)

By Alyssa
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By Valerie Pegon, Experience designer & Innovation Strategist, Dassault Systèmes

Designers hate to stand still. They permanently reflect back on their practice, redesigning and testing, in order to improve it.  Every time, when something seems sorted, another challenge emerges.  Little by little, the practice gets more professional, and more specialized.  But occasionally, there is a need for regrouping, for reconnecting.  It is with this intention that we reflected back on design thinking and saw opportunities to make it more powerful.

Unfortunately, design thinking is often reduced to a recipe, to define user journeys that are relevant to today’s user needs.  But what about tasting the dish to check how it is coming along? What about gathering the right ingredients (the diversity of people, a broader knowledge, unusual ingredients)?  What about the restaurant itself and the suppliers (the organisation, the partners and the business models)? And tomorrow?

We believe Experience Thinking can take companies to another level; helping businesses in their transformation. There are indeed a few top-level challenges and opportunities it can help with.

First, agility. While it may sound obvious for digital companies, agility remains complex for other industries. However, the evolutions of technologies and science unlock new possibilities that designers can start to harness. Imagine, as a designer, being able to simulate your design right away, in real time. Or being able to test virtual experiences quickly, as if you were there, without having to develop a full serious game?

Second, the Internet of Things. Remember Gartner’s hype curve: the hype may be over today but now, the possibilities are here for you to grasp. Sensing and data analytics enable a continuous feedback loop to improve new designs, to adapt in real time. Connected objects enable services that totally change the way people use products, the business models and even the approach to designing these products and services together, as a whole.

Third, social systems. Like cities, the systems companies create are multi-player and contextually adapting to a wide range of users and stakeholders. Building these ecosystems require some level of structure (we talk about “experience architecture”) to work smoothly, a high level of flexibility and a deep connection to the context and usage.

In the end, we always come back to the experience, because that is where the value lies. But the way we think and enable the experience we dream of is changing.

Discover more about Design in the Age of Experience at our event website

Find out about Dassault Systèmes’ Design Studio here.

 

 

Experience Thinking: The New Shift

By Anne
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By Anne Asensio, Vice President, Design, Dassault Systèmes

In the Age of Experience, customer expectation has been transformed. It’s not just a good idea for a company or a brand to deliver an experience with their product: it is imperative when you want to have a real impact on the market. This is changing the scope of what it means to Design.

Design has evolved beyond modeling products. Products used to be the direct expression of the design intent, defined under the physical constraints of available technologies, materials, ergonomics and well defined tasks and functions. But in the Age of Experience, products are dematerialized, reduced to “black boxes”, while integrating the realm of our augmented life.

The scope and value of Design is now at a critical place.

Design’s perspective is moving from designing products to designing experiences, engaging final users in a totally new way. It goes beyond aesthetics to genuine social means, investing in a larger scope of actions across a large spectrum of new disciplines. This “transdisciplinarity” of Design impacts business models, creates new offerings and new social engagement, and convokes new uses of science for designing meaningful and sustainable experiences.

We traditionally consider “Design Thinking” as placing the “human” at the center of the project or value proposition and deciphering what people really want, but fail to express. Design Thinking was the first visible step of Design transformation, moving from the individual designer’s subjective concept towards an empathic model of engagement, leveraging a social participative approach and multiple viewpoints.

Businesses use Design Thinking to identify market opportunity and build a solution that delivers customer value.  It’s an improvement for designing a better product with clear identity, efficiency, and well-defined utilities. But the world and Design have quickly moved on to broader and more holistic issues, tackling complex systems and considering the full technological and service ecosystem by co-defining with users what makes up a unique and continuous experience.

This broader realm of “Experience Thinking” encompasses a new scope for designers, going beyond functions and harnessing the emotive power of customer experience. They script future scenarios and craft real-time 3D prototypes, use immersive technologies and virtual universes, and develop 3D digital masters with integrated information.  Designers are acquiring abilities to access new information, including knowledge gathered from studies, but also a large variety of Data captured from sensors. These combined social and science-based data provide new material for designer creativity.

Digital content is the new nexus for thoughts, interpretation and decision making. The right tools and platform for ideation, virtualization, manufacturability and sustainability enable designers and businesses to view and validate experiential designs at any stage of the development process. Designers can craft the links between products and their interactions, making visible the emotional connections and their use. Data and senses combine for new balanced proposals.

Where we go from here depends on how we use Design to transform companies’ business ecosystems to create designs that captivate users, accelerate technology adoption and deliver ethical and sustainable experiences. Users will “co-design”, modifying deeply our life experiences and changing forever the way people live, travel and interact with technology in the future.

Design professionals across industries (such as architects, industrial designers and transportation specialists) can today transform their processes, methodologies and applications for experience thinking to imagine, design and fabricate innovative proposals.

Collaborating within this new innovation environment, experience thinking can help a business build its brand’s promise and the accompanying emotions it evokes. Then, each customer experience stands on its own as a singular achievement, but also provides a perfect center of gravity that builds brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Discover more about Design in the Age of Experience at our event website.

Find out about Dassault Systèmes’ Design Studio here.

 

 

Leading Japanese Architect Foresees Computers Unleashing an Era of Design Freedom

By Akio
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clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Computers are unleashing an era
of #design freedom in #architecture -@KengoKuma

Kengo Kuma’s architectural designs range from the whimsical (Asakusa Cultural and Tourism Center, a wildly stacked pillar of houses) to the dramatic (the steamship-shaped Victoria and Albert Museum rising in Dundee, Scotland), to the deceptively simple (Great (Bamboo) Wall, a house in China).

Through them he has discovered his calling – celebrating natural materials and creating human connections – and learned that a computer can be an architect’s best friend.

China Academy of Art’s Folk Art Museum (Image © Eiichi Kano)

In the years after World War II, Japanese architects grappled with building homes and businesses to replace what the conflict had destroyed and accommodate booming post-war growth. Japan needed fast recovery as its top priority, and its “first generation” architects delivered.

Kengo Kuma, founder of Kengo Kuma & Associates (KKAA) and one of today’s most celebrated Japanese architects, reveres that generation.

“The first-generation architects basically had to reconstruct Japan, and that sense of responsibility had a big bearing on everything they did,” he said.

Kenzo Tange, who designed the Yoyogi National Gymnasium built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the building that inspired Kuma to become an architect, is a particular first-generation hero.

Thanks to Tange and those who came after – Arata Isozaki and Fumihiko Maki of the second generation, and Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito of the third generation – Kuma said he feels empowered to pursue a design freedom his predecessors never had.

“Japan’s a wealthy country now, rivaling the United States and Europe,” Kuma said in a wide-ranging interview. “For our generation, I’d say the main thematic question is what kind of architecture we can create in that context of comfort. I think this generation is trying to redefine architecture as a medium for people to connect with each other.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#Architecture is a medium for
people to connect with each other” -@KengoKuma

REDISCOVERING NATURE WITH A COMPUTER

Soaring buildings with swooping curves and awe-inducing metal façades – the type of architecture that has dominated for nearly two decades – create a sense of wonder, but don’t promote human intimacy or comfort. Instead, Kuma believes that natural materials create the peace that humans instinctively crave.

His most iconic designs – beginning with his award-winning guest house in China known as “Great (Bamboo) Wall” – prominently feature wood and bamboo.

Even the stadium he designed for the 2020 Olympics in Japan – the first Olympic stadium built in his country since Tange’s 1964 project – is defined by its wooden details.

Ironically, however, Kuma’s transition from the concrete, steel and glass of the Industrial Age to the traditional, natural materials that define KKAA’s newest and most iconic projects has been enabled by the leading symbol of the modern age: the computer.

Celebrated Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (Image © K.K. Human Centrix)

“It’s really difficult to use natural materials, to be honest,” Kuma said. “There is so much variability. No two pieces are the same, first of all, and you always have to deal with each material’s size restrictions. The challenge is figuring out how to get all those pieces to fit together and create a functional structure, and that’s where computers are so helpful. It seems to me that you need computer technology to bring natural materials to architectural fruition. Otherwise, they are just too diverse and complicated to orchestrate.”

AUTOMATING THE ROUTINE RELEASES CREATIVITY

By managing many of the critical but routine and time-consuming tasks – from verifying structural integrity to compiling precise lists of materials to managing budgets – advanced computer technology, especially Building Information Management (BIM), actually frees architects to focus on creativity, Kuma said.

“Technological progress had had a big impact. We use CAD to design things in 3D now, for example. With computers, we can dream up virtually any architectural space and convert those ideas into actual drawings. As technology continues to liberate our imaginations, it’s cool how the digital advances in the architectural world have gone step-in-step with a renewed awareness of ‘the real thing.’”

Modern architects tend to spend most of their time finding solutions to engineering, scheduling and budget problems, not creating great designs, Kuma said.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #Architects are spending time engineering/scheduling/
budgeting, not on creating great designs @KengoKuma @3DSAEC #BIM

“When you call on what BIM can do, it becomes possible to balance out engineering- type solutions with creativity. For example, people used to balance the budget at the end of the project to see whether the costs fell in line with the projections. Those days are now gone. Now you must have your budget in mind right out of the gates and work under those preconditions the whole time, gathering feedback and adjustments as you go. That’s why it’s almost impossible to manage your budget without BIM.

“Achieving a balance of solutions and creativity is one of the biggest issues in the architecture industry. If we can find a way to put these two things together, then I feel we can massively transform the architecture industry.”

DEMOCRATIZING DESIGN

While computers give architects more freedom, however, they also create an environment in which they will face more challenges to their authority, Kuma said.

“Computers democratize architecture,” he said.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Computers democratize
#architecture” -@KengoKuma @3DSAEC

“For example, someone who is a complete newcomer to architecture will be able to design their own house. Architects who have enjoyed privilege up to now may be opposed to this, but ultimately I think that architecture will belong to everyone. When that happens, I think we will be in for a very interesting future.”

In this new era, Kuma envisions architects being valued less for their engineering prowess and their ability to bring projects in on time and budget and more for their creativity and ability to create harmony, both in the buildings they design and in the working environments they create.

“If you try to make architecture more complicated, there is no end to how complicated it can get,” Kuma said.

“For that reason, I make sure to keep a model right in front of me. Everyone gathers around the model and talks. I feel that’s the key to not getting complicated. Everyone is actually very interested in architecture. So I think that if we keep things simple, a number of different people can take part in it.”

Sunny Hills Japan (Image © Daici Ano)

NURTURING AN OPEN, CREATIVE ENVIRONMENT

Part of keeping the working environment open involves avoiding hierarchical structures so that everyone’s ideas can be heard, Kuma said, even as KKAA expands beyond Japan with offices in China and Paris.

“I try to maintain a flat organizational structure,” Kuma said. “We want people to understand that they must take on a certain amount of risk when they assume responsibility for something, so we try to stay away from building too much of a hierarchy. That structure lulls you into thinking that someone else higher up on the ladder will always be there, ready to take responsibility for whatever you do. We want everyone to feel responsible for themselves and know that they are creators.”

In addition to encouraging a sense of responsibility, he encourages cultural diversity in KKAA’s staff.

“This diversity doesn’t dilute the character of KKAA; it strengthens it,” he said. “Our organization should be structured so that all of these people can really participate. That is what makes the identity of the organization stronger.”

Kuma’s philosophy is consistent with his definition of leadership.

“I think how qualified you are as a leader really depends on how easy of an environment you can create for everyone to speak up,” he said. “If you create an environment where everyone can easily speak their mind, different opinions will come forth and from those opinions you can find a balance. If nobody expresses their opinions, there’s really nothing you can do.”

A LONG-TERM VIEW

In a world that is rediscovering the beauty of natural materials and human connections, of sustainability and long-term value, Kuma believes that architects are well positioned to lead.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: #Architects can lead us into an era of human connections,
#sustainability & long-term value -@KengoKuma @3DSAEC

“The advantage the architecture industry has is that it can think over longer timespans, as much as 10 years from the start to the finish of project,” he said.

“We are entering an age that is going to be all about taking longer periods of time to think about what will make people happy, rather than shooting for short-term increases in profit.

“Architects are accustomed to listening to people about things. They are accustomed to thinking about things over long periods of time. Architects are people with universally applicable skills.”

Originally published in COMPASS: The 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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