Co-creation labs

Co-creation labs typically involve hands-on activities in which a varied group of stakeholders expresses experiences and explorers potential solutions in a tangible way. For example: as a simple physical model of a public installation, or a neighbourhood map augmented with symbols to represent important problems, facilities or other elements. Collaborating in this way provokes discussion and creates valuable insights into all aspects of the product or service being investigated and (re)designed. Participants become deeply involved and respond in ways that reveal valuable new insights.


Co-discovery is an important aspect of co-creation labs. It involves participants and clients to explore a topic, problem or theme in a moderated discussion and  collaborative setting. Participants trigger each other, but also have time to think while others are speaking, which in turn helps them contribute high-quality responses and questions. Unlike in individual interviews, there is room for several of the client’s team to participate. They can be simply observing and learning, or take a more active role. In co-discovery, group activities are always combined with individual assignments that generate data in context. By exploring it with them, step by step, we build an in-depth understanding of the ways in which participants make sense of a topic or theme.


Co-creation labs also facilitate and enable speculation. This is a way to use the current desires, struggles and experiences of the particiapnts as a jumping-off point to look into the future. Storytelling plays a central role in this, and is often supported by specially developed tools and prompts. Future scenarios can involve devices, but can also be largely technology-agnostic. Depending on the focus of a project, co-creation labs can also combine co-discovery and speculation stages.

Soft exposure

Co-creation labs enable clients to softly expose an initial idea or concept, that is not developed enough for a validation test, to participants in order to get a series of fresh responses. Usually first in a spontaneous and unstructured way, and then moving to more structured exploration and moderated discussion. This allows clients to get a sense of the direction in which to develop their concept, and a way of discovering new and relevant aspects of it early on, which they might not have otherwise been aware of or considered.


Sparking discussions between residents and local authorities

To help a local government department in the UK foster more public participation in its strategic planning processes, we ran a Public Future Lab in which we used innovative prototypes to reduce participation barriers for local residents. We used a variety of different prototypes including a re-imagined web interface, a visualisation of a gamefully designed social application, an animation of a new service experience, and a physical model of a public installation.

Improving bicycle parking in public space

The Local Council Amsterdam South asked STBY to help explore how bicycle parking can be improved. They asked to look specifically at a busy district known for its liveliness and diversity – and the overwhelming amount of bicycles parked in public space. The council’s aim was a coherent set of feasible solutions that could be embraced by the people in the neighbourhood. Since then many of the solutions discussed have already been piloted, tested and implemented.

Agile Client Immersion Week

STBY organised a series of intensive, one-week field trips in London and Amsterdam for an international financial services company looking to expand to new markets. The objective was to take a deep dive into the differences in norms, motivations, customs, and local regulations in their market space. Lab activities and fieldwork were designed to reveal different types of information, including general payment habits, perceptions, and norms and desires regarding both front and back office routines and behaviours.

What makes a home?

This is a question IKEA and its designers feel they must continually seek an answer to, if they are to succeed in their ambition “to create a better everyday life for the many”. And this question continues to grow in relevance, because the concept of home is in flux. STBY facilitated a workshop at the headquarters in Sweden in which IKEA’s design and product development teams explored the question of what makes a home from the perspectives of customers around the world.



Forthe latest issue of CRISP magazine Bas Raijmakers co-authored an article about ‘Orchestration’. “So many, you can’t get around it; So complex, you can’t get under it; So diverse, you can’t get over it. This is a chance to orchestrate your way out of your constrictions!” The article explores how ‘orchestration’ functions in Product Service System (PSS) development, helping to align collaborators and achieve harmony in a system where complexity can and should be embraced. A pdf of the full article is available here, and the complete CRISP magazine #5 is available here.

Designing Relationships

‘Designing Relationships’ is an article in the CRISP magazine co-authored by Geke van Dijk: “As we move from mass-produced, one-size fits all products to personalised, adaptive and evolving Product Service Systems, the design deliverables take on other forms.” In the article, the authors look at ‘what comes out of the box when the user unpacks what they paid for’, and reflect on the new results that design should bring.” The pdf of the full article is available here, and the complete CRISP magazine #5 is available here.

Embracing Complexity

A third article in the CRISP Magazine, about ‘Embracing Complexity’, was co-authored by Marie de Vos for STBY. “Product Service System development is hard, but pretending complexity disappears when you ignore it solves nothing. PSS design teaches designers to embrace complexity and discover the rich insights that lead to excellent PSSs.” Issues with complexity are not limited to technology, but have to do with social reactions and behaviours brought about by a particular system. The pdf of ‘Embracing Complexity’ is available here, and the complete CRISP magazine #5 is available here.

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