13 October 2006

IDEO’s urban pre-planning [Metropolis Magazine]

Be the first to share

Revitalization 18th & Vine
“Eighteenth and Vine—Kansas City’s historic but down-and-out jazz district—had a vision problem,” reports Andrew Blum in Metropolis Magazine. Then the Kansas City−based Kauffman Foundation came in and made it possible for the neighbourhood’s Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation to hire IDEO’s Smart Space practice to help develop a vision for the neighborhood.

“In 2000 IDEO had begun supplementing its industrial-design work with a growing interest in designing spaces, including hospitals, schools, and hotels. A couple of years ago that scale shifted again, to the point that the work of IDEO’s Smart Space practice, led by architect Fred Dust, now looks a lot like urban planning—but not in any conventional sense. Instead of doing massing studies or land-use plans, laying out infrastructure, writing zoning codes, or proposing blockbuster museums, IDEO’s Smart Space group articulates the spirit of a place but leaves its realization to the clients: developers, park conservancies, or hospitality companies.”

[The IDEO team applied] “the multidisciplinary method they bring to nearly all their projects. […] Part anthropology (with IDEO’s trained anthropologists), part site exploration (with IDEO’s trained architects), part documentary filmmaking (with IDEO’s trained media artists), their approach is to seek the qualitative essence of the community from the perspective of the community.”

Blum juxtaposes the traditional urban planning approach with the idea-based approach taken by IDEO, which he sees as related to branding, marketing and “honed in the corporate world”.

“The firm deliberately dodges all the “technical” parts of urban planning: arranging infrastructure, determining financing, and navigating the public process. Instead it practices urban planning as branding: define the spirit of a place and then let others articulate that spirit—whether in bricks, mortar, tax breaks, or billboards. IDEO claims accountability only for its ideas.”

“It’s not clear that works, mostly because it’s too early to tell—but also because the team at IDEO is messing with the DNA of the planning process. They’re changing it from a concrete process of infrastructure and building to an imagined one of narrative and identity; they’re exchanging the idea of a place for place itself. In an urban realm already threatened by privatization—not just by developers but by a broader trend toward place-making as marketing—IDEO’s approach could be seen to further erode the idea of city-building as a democratic process (if it ever was) because of the way it applies the shiny language of marketing to the gritty mixed-up world of the city. As IDEO emphasizes, its communication skills have been honed in the corporate world, and its “user centered” approach is often cast as a particularly empathetic version of market research.”

Despite this initial criticism, Blum goes on to laud the allure, freshness and independence of the IDEO approach and praises their skill in interpreting the voice of the people.

Read full story

Be the first to share
10 November 2015
Why service design is luxury’s new battleground
Ana Andjelic writes in AdAge that most legacy luxury brands are failing at delivering service, especially online: The fact that most legacy luxury brands fail to successfully create and deliver service is unfortunate. The business of …
10 November 2015
For years, Apple followed user-centered design principles. Then something went wrong.
Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini are taking their gloves off and accuse Apple of abandoning the fundamental principles of good design: discoverability, feedback, proper mapping, appropriate use of constraints, and, of course, the power to …
5 November 2015
Customer journey mapping is at the heart of digital transformation
Digital technologies such as analytics, mobility, social networks, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are making old ways of working redundant and forcing companies to transform. According to Raman Sapra, global head of Dell’s …
5 November 2015
[Conference] Design & The City, Amsterdam, April 2016
Design & The City explores citizen-centered design approaches for the smart city. Central theme is the role of design(ers) to create opportunities and practices for citizens, (social) entrepreneurs and policy makers towards more liveable, sustainable and …
3 November 2015
Another book entitled “The Quantified Self”
The Quantified Self By Gina Neff and Dawn Nafus MIT Press, 264 pp. April 2016 Oops, that is confusing: two books by sociologists on the quantified self movement, both entitled "The Quantified Self" and both appearing in April 2016. …
1 November 2015
User-centred design of the bridge of sea ships
The Rolls-Royce Unified Bridge Design has won this year’s Ergonomics Design Award, presented by the UK Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors. The award recognises industrial design which puts the customer at the heart …
30 October 2015
[Book] Digital Ethnography
Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practice By Sarah Pink, Heather Horst, John Postill, Larissa Hjorth, Tania Lewis and Jo Tacchi (RMIT University) SAGE Publications October 2015, 216 pages Abstract This sharp, innovative book champions the rising significance of ethnographic research on …
29 October 2015
An ethnography of tax-avoidance experts
Sociologist Brooke Harrington realized that if she were ever going to understand global inequality she would have to become one of the people who helps create it. So she trained to become a wealth manager …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

13 October 2015
Experientia report: Design for ageing gracefully

Design for Ageing Gracefully Rethinking Health and Wellness for the Elderly: Public Services Asian Insights & Design Innovation, DesignSingapore Council October 2015

29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness

As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
See all articles