Airtable for Design Research: Perks, Quirks and Pitfalls

At STBY we are always on the lookout for new tools to ease or enhance our work. There are always risks that come with experimenting with new gadgets and apps, and so many factors that dictate the extent to which we fully adopt new tech. Our experience with Airtable, a cloud based collaborative spreadsheet/database builder, illustrates this perfectly.

GOOD19: a different type of gathering

People interested in the transformative power of design research around the world gathered at the GOOD19 Conference in Londen on the 27th of July. GOOD19 was the latest edition of a series of international conferences named: the Great Outdoors Of Design. Organised by the Reach Network, of which STBY is a founding member.

Have you ever been to a conference where you actually went outdoors for a picnic? At the Great Outdoors Of Design we enjoyed a green and sustainable picnic lunch outside Plexal, the innovation centre at the Olympic Parc in London. This venue was our playground for a day were participants of the conference, together with Reach Partners, engaged in a mix of presentations on international case studies and extensive discussions in small groups.

As founder and partner of the REACH network for global design research, and the main local organiser of the conference,…

The Subspecies of Design Researcher

As a design research agency, STBY has worked with design researchers of many shapes and sizes. While the role of ‘design researcher’ becomes more common and recognised as a formal position in many different types of organisations, it’s worth reflecting on how we all work and the unique skills and attitudes needed in different settings.

Making do and getting by with the climate

More and more members of Spring House in Amsterdam are involved in climate related projects. Does their increasing knowledge about the climate influence their own behaviour? STBY asked nearly 200 Spring House members to share their ‘climate moments’ and created a staircase exhibition that is currently displayed in Spring House, the shared office building where STBY is based.

The exhibition ‘Climate Pioneering’ shows thoughts and experiences on climate action by Spring House members in daily life. Each poster in the exhibition gives a glimpse into a personal quest for sustainable living. From waking up to winding down at night, and the time in between, there are lots of occasions we all make climate conscious or unconscious decisions. The staircase exhibition shows various examples: from a plastic free diet to a plastic collection after cooking supper, clothes…

Art and cutting-end technology as means to evidence injustice

How to use art and new-media as a mean to collect and articulate the evidence of social or ecological injustice? New technologies such as 3d modelling and advanced sound techniques make it possible to monitor and trace activities in a way that was never possible before. ‘Forensic Justice,’ an exhibition and a series of public programs with Forensic Architecture, sets an example and shows how the use of art and new-media breaks the boundaries
of the field and becomes a way to mobilise change.

Working cross-sector is in the heart of design research practices, that is a characteristic of our work we almost take for granted. It is exciting to see where these cross-sector collaborations can become bolder. Further than that, what I find inspiring in the work of Forensic Architecture is the use of cutting egde technologies to advance social justice. ‘Forensic Justice’ was…

Can a robot become your best friend?

There is no escape: our futures will be more and more digitalised. What position are you taking towards the fast growing digital world we live in? While technology seems to be something we can’t escape from, we are able to re-think our position towards it. The role of technology in our lives is food for thought – and that is why STBY participated in a Digital Detox.

The Digital Detox workshop

In this workshop, hosted by artists Ruben Baart and Roos Groothuizen, we were triggered to take a different look at the digital world. At STBY we tend to embrace technical and digital developments, since they give us lots of possibilities in conducting research. However, we also think it is important to critically reflect on how we use our digital devices. Baart and Groothuizen are artists in residence at Spring House, the workspace of STBY in Amsterdam. With their work, they aim to promote…

GOOD is coming to London again!

As the founder and partner of REACH network, STBY is happy to announce that following on the success of previous related events around the world, GOOD is coming to London again! This 1-day conference, titled GOOD19, will take place on 27 June 2019.  Registration for tickets has opened, with attractive early bird rates. Hope to see you there!

GOOD = Great Outdoors of Design

GOOD conferences bring together design researchers from around the world to share experiences and jointly reflect on organisations, economies and societies in transition, in relation to the strategic roles design researchers play in making these changes happen. More and more organisations engage design researchers to help them transform from being internally focused to interacting more collaboratively and sustainably with the outside world. Human-centered, ethnographic research and design-driven…

Combining digital and physical diary methods

Recently we carried out a study with a mix of three of the most used and recognised qualitative methods: a diary study,  in-depth interviews, and co-creation workshops. The rationale for this blended research method was to use the diary study to warm up participants to the research topic, followed by a two-hour deep dive interview at their home, and culminating in a creative group session where the participants could jointly contribute to future-oriented speculations.

The two-week diary study set the tone of the research project and acted as an introduction to the study for each participant. As the study explored experiences and reflections on personal topics such as sleep, stress and wellbeing, the participants benefitted from a slow lead up that triggered their observations and thoughts. We aimed to keep the diary study conversational in order to encourage and stimulate…

Human scale and potential

Every year STBY attent the Service Design Global Conference with great interest. At this annually organised conference, lots of new service design insights, projects and tools are shared. Also this year STBY learned from our colleagues from around the world. Some of the topics discussed during the conference are very close to key subjects that STBY is currently experimenting with – such as system design, automation and peer learning. 

The bigger role of service design
Throughout the conference there was a great emphasis on the importance of putting people at the centre of service design and system design. Lorna Ross, Group Director at Fjord, made the first statement about this. She gave the opening keynote about the complexity of the human relationship with technology. Something that designers have to take into consideration because service design isn’t just…

When design research meets Alibaba

Last October the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven launched a new exhibition called ‘GEO-DESIGN: Alibaba. From here to your home’. This exhibition is an investigation that traces the nebulous outlines of one of the largest e-commerce giants in the world, Alibaba Group, founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, currently the richest man in China. The exhibition is developed within the framework of an ongoing collaboration between the museum and Design Academy Eindhoven.

Before entering the exhibition, the topic of Chinese e-commerce felt far away, almost a strange choice for an exhibition during Dutch Design Week. However, after seeing all the exhibits and having been immersed in so many different aspects of this enormous company, a new thought resonated: this is the power of design research. To make what seems complex, abstract and remote more tangible and understandable, while not…

Joining forces towards climate action

In order to create a cleaner and greener world we have to join forces and collectively come up with new ideas and solutions. That is why it is important to STBY to engage in sustainable projects and organise co-creation sessions focussing on climate action. An example of such an event is the Spring House Climate Summit in Amsterdam we organised in relation to the Clean Energy Challenge of What Design Can Do.

Amsterdams clean energy issues

The Clean Energy Challenge calls on designers and creatives to come up with new and creative ideas to  tackle pressing energy issues in five different cities. Amsterdam is one of them. As the research partner of WDCD, we researched the local energy issues in the five different cities. We found that in Amsterdam there is little space for clean energy infrastructure. Solar panels and other visible interventions are not permitted on historic buildings.…

Prototyping Clean Energy Futures

In a workshop hosted by STBY during the Service Design Days in Barcelona on the 5th and 6th of October 2018, we prototyped ideas for new service concepts in response to the What Design Can Do Clean Energy Challenge.

GOOD is coming to London again!

As the founder and partner of REACH network, STBY is happy to announce that following on the success of previous related events around the world,…

A New Breed of Design Research Tools

Gone are the days of lugging around clunky recorders, hefty cameras and brick-like hard drives to interviews and observation sites. The design researchers of today need only bring along a smartphone hooked up to a few complementary gadgets and software to capture and save quality audio, video and images.

Rigorous documentation: A research superpower

When research activities get going in earnest, a lot is produced. If treated too casually, the mass of audio files and transcripts, flip-overs and mini-posters full of post-its, photos, interview notes and feedback mails can quickly turn into a massive hairball that no-one can unpick.

What Design Can Do For The Climate

How can designers tackle a problem as complex as climate change? That was the question we were faced with when we partnered with What Design Can Do…

Lead… and let go

In our projects we often help clients to innovate by doing design research together. This usually includes qualitative research and co-creation…