Global Design Expert Reflects Upon Innovative Ideas From This Year's Knowledge of Design Week
July 25, 2014
The only thing more impressive than listening to speakers at this year's Knoweldge of Design Week (KODW) is reading Rakhi Rajani's LinkedIn profile. The design expert has some serious cred, ranging from contributing to renowned style mag Harper's Bazaar Interiors Arabia and consulting for Nike, Yahoo! and Samsung. Though she splits her time between her product management gig at British stationery company MOO and speaking at global design conferences, the busy, jet-set consultant found a few minutes to reflect on last month's design week.
Rajani emceed the hospitality and retail portion of the international conference, which featured a series of seminars and workshops focused on innovation in design, led by award-winning architects, designers and entrepreneurs.
Rajani believes one of the most important ideas presented at this year's conference was for designers and ad execs to really focus on the human experience when creating new products and campaigns. She says,
"From broad spectrum advertising to more micro examples ... at the end of the day, I think it was clear that both retail and hospitality are people businesses that are driven by emotional need."
Perhaps one of the best examples of this was the Sensorial Stimuli project presented on day one of KODW by Jinhyun Jeon. Featuring a series of sensual, otherworldy dining utensils that looked nothing like their predecessors, the tools are redefining experimental dining. One nipple-shaped stick was vaguely reminiscent of a pacifier, while another spoon-like concoction had a pimply, bumpy edge.
The project is successful because Jeon tapped into consumers' sentimental nature: grown-ups have crossed the great divide between toddlerhood and adolescence but most never got the opportunity to play with their food the way they wanted to in their diaper days. So, why not invent tools to explore this nostalgic idea? Rajani says the eating utensils were fascinating because it helped the dining process take centre stage by slowing down the grazing ritual. In one Stimuli experiment, the diners took 2.5 hours longer than expected to nibble and slurp on their food.
Another innovative idea Rajani really enjoyed was architect Andreas Strauss' boutique hotel. The Austrian designer presented his project dasparkhotel, a series of minimalistic, cave-like units fashioned out of reusable cement sewage pipes, placed in leafy public parks. Rajani says the project is appealing to her because the simple hotel rooms enhance its lush surroundings, bringing out the beauty of the park. She adds dasparkhotel is a fascinating social experiment, while also an innovative solution for solo travellers: "Hotels are forever trying to determine how to cater for the lone guest and dasparkhotel does just that but with a focus on the external environment." Feeling gutted to have missed KODW? Tune in to our webcasts now!
Aside from the hospitality and retail seminars Rajani moderated, there were also a series of fun, interactive workshops at KODW. One of the workshops focused on teaching attendees how to improve spatial design in workplaces to create a more productive workspace. Another workshop introduced attendees to the award-winning smartphone app iButterfly, which transformed the mundane task of coupon distribution into a cheerful butterfly-swatting game.
Attendees spent the week learning about innovative ideas, cutting-edge technology and design-focused products, and speaking with internationally acclaimed designers and entrepreneurs. If learning about inspiring projects and innovative design piques your interest, check out KODW's sister event in early December. To find out more about Business of Design Week, visit bodw.com for more info!