Design Day 2018 — Rethink / Refresh

Justin Dauer
Apr 13, 2018 · 5 min read

On Friday, March 23rd I was invited to speak and run a workshop in Stockholm at international agency Futurice’s “Design Day”.

Under the banner of “Rethink / Refresh”, Futurice flew in all designers from their 6 offices — Helsinki, Tampere, London, Berlin, Munich, and Stockholm — for a day of inspiration, collaboration, recalibration. The event was conceived around the following mindset:

The meaning of design in digital services has long ago passed a tipping point. For one, design is no longer exclusively about digital or the visible — but that’s not news. What is a bit on the newish side is a need for a different type of projects from our clients around the world.

Image for post
Image for post

As part of that program, 5 speakers were invited to talk about their philosophies and work, cross-media. In addition to myself, the other 4 creators on hand for the day were:

Nafisa Bakkar
Co-founder of Amaliah, dedicated to representing Muslim women in shaping thought and acting as a tool for cultural change.

Steve Belgrave
An award-winning sound designer and creative audio director. His collaborators include U2, Noel Gallagher’s Beady Eye, the BBC, DreamWorks, Sennheiser, and Huawei.

Frida Vega Salomonsson & Sofia Quintero
Frida Vega Salomonsson, image maker and publisher, who helps shape experiences for Nike, Ace & Tate, IKEA and other leading brands. Sofia Quintero from Bad Land, one of Europe’s most influential agents within visual (film, photography).

Cultivating a Creative Culture & Inspiration Aplenty

Shortly after I landed at Arlanda Airport, it’s a short train ride into Stockholm proper via the Arlanda Express. This is a trip I’d made many times when I was the Creative Director at Nansen, and despite the time that had passed since last making it, the journey felt all too familiar.

Post hotel check-in, I arrived at the venue — Stockholm architecture firm CoDesign’s event space — to plan how my workshop the following day would integrate into the environment.

Image for post
Image for post
I plan to henceforth stand this cool in all candid photos. Photo credit Jaan Orvet

Having the first presentation slot the following morning — at 3AM Chicago time no less — I largely spoke on the philosophies and tactics from my book Cultivating a Creative Culture, and the synergy of inspiration between the tangible and digital realms. The talk’s backbone was derived from the perspectives and skillsets we already use daily in our work: empathy, objectivity, and creativity.

Following the presentation, I sat down for some Q&A with the audience. The dialogue was spirited and passionate; cultural dynamics, team interactions, and client expectations represented a large portion of the chat.

My workshop in the afternoon was a direct follow-up from the talk’s concluding section: inspiration away from our laptops and devices, infused back into our digital work.

I’ve been previously asked by colleagues: “how do you workshop inspiration?”

On a 7 foot-long sheet of paper, I had mapped a morning’s journey from urban commute, to coffee shop, to the office itself. Each point of the journey was tangibly represented in Lego form (which became stars unto themselves, being photographed pre / during / post-session).

Beneath each instance I had a couple columns noting what people can observe at a point along the way, and what the takeaway from the observation yielded. For example, while commuting in the city: seeing someone pause and give directions to a stranger equates to empathy. In a cafe: the attention to detail on curation and service equates to quality. For the office itself: these observations became redubbed “fuel”, and correspondingly mapped over to actual UX processes / artifacts. Wire framing, user interviews, testing and refinement, etc.

The intent was to get people to observe, process, and leverage as fuel in their creative process; the tangible informing the digital. I gave each person a Chicago-branded Field Notes and asked them, as moments presented themselves, to document (mobile phone) and record (Field Notes), so they have an ever-present fountain of inspiration always on-hand.

As much as this was about them training their eyes and minds, it was about connection; people sharing their stories and bonding, and organic dialogue. This broke down barriers for many who didn’t know one another previously.

And Just Like That…He’s Gone

This was a quick trip; the following morning it was back onto a Scandinavian Airlines flight 9 and 1/2 hours to Chicago. Having been in and out of the country so fast, it was fairly surreal in the hindsight a few weeks has yielded.

The opportunity to speak to, connect with, challenge and be challenged by the Futurice team on the topics of culture and inspiration was one I immensely valued. In a field of human-centered design and processes, interacting on these vital topics with the very humans who craft experiences at the highest level was truly a great pleasure.

Creative Culture

Creating with compassion in an environment fueled by…

Justin Dauer

Written by

A multi-faceted, multi-pierced, multi-tattooed designer, author, & speaker. Writer of @the_culturebook. Vice President of Human-Centered Design @bswiftbenefits.

Creative Culture

Creating with compassion in an environment fueled by compassion means we never lose sight of what it’s all about: people.

Justin Dauer

Written by

A multi-faceted, multi-pierced, multi-tattooed designer, author, & speaker. Writer of @the_culturebook. Vice President of Human-Centered Design @bswiftbenefits.

Creative Culture

Creating with compassion in an environment fueled by compassion means we never lose sight of what it’s all about: people.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store