Interview with Design Symposium Sponsor, figure3

  1. Why is it important for figure3 to sponsor IDC’s first Design Symposium?

Darryl Balaski:

At figure 3 we believe in elevating the conversation on the role design plays in improving the quality of life for people. The influence design has in affecting human behavior is significant. As designers, we must be aware of the importance of our role and continue to gain insight into how design can be transformational for people and businesses. A symposium of this nature represents the future of our industry, which is why we feel compelled to support it.

  1. How does ‘Design Thinking’ factor into figure3’s planning process for new projects?

Eric Yorath:

The outcomes and implications of our work are what drive our approach to and investment in ‘design thinking’. Interior design touches people viscerally – its influence on peoples’ thinking, feeling, decisions and behaviour is profound. To genuinely “transform the future by connecting people to place,” we commit to a deep understanding of the people we design for, a rigorous collaborative and participatory process, and a bias toward action. Key to this commitment is demanding both our clients and internal processes value the time and effort required to do the ‘thinking’ required for successful design.

  1. What is figure3’s role in the changing landscape of deign (with respect to initiatives on sustainability inclusion, diversity, etc.)?

Darryl Balaski:

We fundamentally believe good design comes from the ability to adopt the perspectives of others. There’s no better way to widen one’s worldview than to engage with those who see and think differently to ourselves.

  1. What kinds of designs or initiatives are ‘disruptive’ in today’s interior design (can you provide an example of a figure3 project that is positively ‘disruptive’)?

Suzanne Bettencourt:

Successful, appropriate ‘disruption’ is rare, but more possible today than ever. We’ve never seen more desire or need to disrupt and innovate, especially with businesses traditionally in isolated sectors that are beginning to intersect with others.

A few examples we could speak to are with Aviva Digital Garage and Penguin Shop.

With the insurance industry disrupted by the rise of fintech, Aviva was in need of a new work space that would facilitate a radical departure of how the business thought, acted and developed solutions for customers. They wanted to focus on enabling better collaboration, mobility, and technology. The concept for Digital Garage was to make their company function like a start-up, from risk-averse to experimental, exploratory and creative. The Digital Garage also plays a key role in helping Aviva’s strategy to move towards a more flexible and mobile work environment for all staff.

The Penguin Shop we designed was disruptive on multiple levels. A publisher using retail to further their own brand and authors, as well as disrupting conventional retail assumptions about size and location. It’s tiny (158 square feet!), and doesn’t reside in a traditional retail location, but rather at the foot of the building that Penguin Random House resides. It was designed to constantly evolve, never the same static merchandise or program, but to suit ongoing promotions such as book launches and author appearances.

  1. What does ‘empathetic design’ mean to you, and why is it important?

Suzanne Bettencourt:

Empathetic design is when the psyche of the person experiencing the physical environment is the driving force behind the design solution. You need to consider the state of mind the user will be experiencing in the space. Our job as designers is to evoke the right emotions in the people experiencing the space.

How do you design an office environment that fosters innovation, brakes down silos and is the company’s greatest recruiting tool? Through empathic listening, you need to understand the people and company’s culture to determine the successful solution. There is never a cookie cutter solution.

Take our client, Surterra Wellness. Marijuana dispensaries are an entirely new vertical in the marketplace, rife with pre-conceived ideas, negative perceptions, and often with strict regulatory requirements.

When it came to the design of their stores, they turned to figure3 to understand the mindset of a new kind of consumer, to help understand the unconscious barriers they might have, and to design a retail experience that would be engaging, comfortable, and successful. Since Surterra’s target customers are primarily caregivers, we sought to evoke feelings of connection, compassion and nature.

Taken as a whole, the entire store reads as a radical departure from what most might have expected from a medical marijuana store, and instead is wholesome and inviting.