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Town Hall #30 - The New Possible - EUK

Updated: May 20, 2022


Kirsty Dias - Managing Director at PriestmanGoode

Ágúst Ingason - Executive Producer and Board Member at treasure Trekkers Entertainment, Chairman of the Board – ALDIN Biodome

David Keech - Managing Director at Keechdesign UK Ltd

William Knight - Director at The Renew Consultancy

Michael Lambrianos - Managing Director at Wiesner Hager UK

John Mathers - Co-founder at Design Age Accelerator

Phil Nutley - Head of Experience Design at CCD Design & Ergonomics

Loïc Sattler - Experience Design Director / DesignOps at Futurice

Jordan Waid - Futurity and Agency Consultant at Jordan Waid Ltd

John Williams - Director at Space Invader



design and creativity is all about adapting and surviving
you have to keep the team strong, and the team has to stay together, just like a football team
the exchange of ideas and creativity is the currency of music


what I've seen over the past six months, which I find fascinating, is time …. we have a new concept of time, we've gotten time given back to us
what's going on in the next 12 months I look at as output … this is where we're going to start to see the seeds of innovation
There is this kind of shift that's happening right now which we've all been talking about, and wondering how and what - and it's happened, and we're in it right now


broaden the conversation around what the future will look like and make sure that that conversation is happening with everyone in the organisation


companies are digitising their businesses as much as they can, especially to protect their employees and serve the customers mobility restrictions, right.
We will probably remember these days as historic when it comes to deployment of remote work and digital access to services across any domain


there's nothing like a crisis to solve a design problem


Everything is about people, and how people use space
There has been a huge focus on sustainability, and a circular economy and net zero carbon projects


We're now looking at how to redesign the office environment with existing products to negate what we're seeing as the long term effects of working from home
[With WFH] It's very difficult for leaders to mentor Junior employees, it's also very difficult for employees to earn the trust of their managers
There's an evolution of the workplace that's starting to take place, which is really exciting to be a part of and to witness, and all over the world. I mean
There's a great knowledge transfer happening across from many, many different cultures
One of the great things of this pandemic is that people are starting to realise that not everybody sees the world the same way


I'm seeing that we're beginning to collide process with passion


I think this crisis presents an opportunity to reframe how we promote design and how we get audiences to engage


Mark Bergin 00:04

Hello, everybody and welcome. I'm Mark Bergin, the founder of DRIVENxDESIGN and the Design Exec Club. And joining me is a fantastic panel of design leaders from the European and UK market. We used to actually just refer to that as part of the European Union, but some things changed earlier in the year. And we've also seen a lot of other things have changed in the last month, which have been that COVID has told us that there's actually some new possibilities, there's some new problems, and for some people there's horrific challenges that are in there. And I think it's really important that we actually reflect on those people who have had life changing interruptions to their families and to their careers. This is Episode 30 for the Town Halls. It's phenomenal to think that we've got as far as we have. But what we're going to be talking about today is new possibilities. We're also going to be talking about how do we Elevate Hope. And temporarily, we're just after the US elections and hope has changed in the last week. You could almost feel the tension coming out of a whole range of people for saying we've got a decision, and there's a change that's going to take place. It's probably not going to be pretty, it's probably not going to be perfect, but we know that we actually now have a new chapter, which we're seeing unfolding in the US. But that's also brought a different accent into the European market. And probably the biggest change that I'm seeing what's happening is the change of the US presidency will mean that there's a change in the mood for a sustainable future. The idea of being netzero is now on the agenda. The Paris Accord seems like something that is so old and so long ago let alone Kyoto. We're going for net zero, and so people are imagining what that Better Future is. And we're accelerating how we get there. You know, I'm going to be interested when we have conversations, which are about beyond zero, how are we actually going to look at economies? How are we going to look at industries, where there's an abundance of sustainable renewable energies. Because some of those possibilities are even things like depleted uranium, with enough energy, which you'd get through renewable energy. With enough energy, you can actually turn depleted uranium back into its original state, and it no longer is radioactive. And it's actually like a big battery. So that's where science can take us. We know engineering can take us there. What we've got is a lack of policy. In the last week, we've seen that policy change a lot. The first person I'm going to throw to here is to John Mathers. John your role at the Design Council and also now with the recently awarded Design Fund, you've been at the edge of what's the New Possible, and how does the UK accelerate. What are you seeing that's actually been the New Possible that's come in the last six months? And what do you think the next 12 months of New Possible is?

John Mathers 03:05

Okay. So just to clarify with people, I was the Design Council Chief Exec five or six years ago, actually four or five years ago, I suppose. Subsequent to that, amongst other things I've been doing, we have set up a small venture capital fund called the British Design Fund. And the British Design Fund invests in well designed British products. They're not doing a service and not sell, but it's, out of the Design Council, we ran a program called Spark, which was investing in very, very early stage product ideas. And one of the frustrations that we ... I hate doing these sessions when I see Mark Bergin drinking glasses of red wine, and I'm still on my first cup of tea,

Mark Bergin 03:58

Coffee, it's coffee! I know, I'm 10 hours out, but it's coffee. And by the way, it's almost 10pm at night, okay.

John Mathers 04:06

I'm only joking. And we found that it was a real struggle to find the investment community that was interested in physical products. So that's why we set up the British Design Fund, where we raised the first half million, just raised the second half millionaire we're investing in. We've probably got about 12 companies that we're now investing in and just about to reach the third one. Got some really interesting people who are now part of the community. So there's a guy called Luke Johnson, who some of you may have heard of, is quite a famous investor who invested in Pizza Express famously back in the day, and has done extremely well and he's now one of our key investors. But the thing for me that I have seen in the last six months, is that it's what people talk about, that there's nothing quite like a crisis to get people thinking about innovation. I think it was Churchill who originally talked about, you know, there's nothing quite like a major problem in the world to get people to invent things. And I think that's exactly what we've seen in Covid times. And I think there's been ... I'm also very heavily involved in a thing called Healthy Aging by Design. Part of the government strategy here in the UK, and one of the pillars of the industrial strategy is a healthy aging program, which is how can we increase the average better life of people by five years and, and democratize it. And, you know, there's been so much happened in sort of demographic shifts and shifts and retail and shifts in an older population, adoption of technology, that the world is just full of possibilities. And I'm just, you know, I'm just, from my living room, hugely excited by the sort of new stuff that is happening and the options that are available to us. So just to finish Mark, you know, there's an awful lot of bad stuff happened and we can't deny that and we'll look back and regret it. Although somebody told me last night, that in the scheme of pandemics, we'll look back at this in future years and hardly even recognize it as a proper pandemic. So relatively few people have actually died. But when you're up close and personal, as we all are at the moment, it feels like a dreadful thing. But I, you know, I'm a glass half full person. And I see that there's so much possibility that's going to come out of this, and new ways of doing things. And I'm particularly, last thing I'll say is, I don't know whether you're seeing it in other parts of the world, but this new way of reporting, which is called ESG. Environmental, social, and governmental ways of looking at companies and the way that companies behave and the way that organizations behave. And I think that's a, for me, that's a really interesting way of looking at things, which is really new, and has happened in the last six months.

Mark Bergin 07:25

Yeah. No, no, no, no, no, never be sorry, because of what this is about as people who are trying to work out how to get to the future faster. And that's what design does. It helps us go get there faster, and an elegant, beautiful, executed way. But John, what I want to ask is, because we've seen right across the board, that the thing that venture fund is about is about acceleration, it's about if we put some capital in, we go create the right networks, the right connections, we can accelerate the cycle of the product development of the market growth. How has COVID gone and effect that acceleration cycle? Has it turbo charge it or has it interrupted some of the natural flows that are there?

John Mathers 08:07

I think it interrupted it for the first three months. And then people thought, I've got to get on with things. And there's an awful lot of money floating around, which needs investing.

Mark Bergin 08:21

And that's something that's come out from Macquarie Bank who did a briefing probably about four months ago, and they were talking about the velocity of money. And they were saying that the velocity of money had halved, but the the reserves of money had more than doubled, which means there's potential energy in markets. And when that potential energy gets released, they do things like they ring up people like Agúst, I'm gonna throw over to you here in a moment. Where they have somebody like Agúst who's got his Treasure Trackers Animated Program that he's got, and they say, we want to invest, we want to buy this. But those calls come out of the blue. They're not necessarily something that you've been able to see directly. But it's the groundwork that you've laid. Agúst, where are you up to in the cycle? You're in Reykjavik. You're in a different context about lockdown. You're not locked down because you're responsible people in Iceland. But where's the business side up for you? And what are you saying, that's moving forward for you?

Agúst Ingasson 09:20

Well, I mean, just to recap quickly. I mean, I have two two sort of major things that I'm working on. And one is in sort of the film entertainment business, surrounding Treasure Tracks, which is an animated series about, sort of, inspiring kids to empathy and kindness. So I think that is at the foremost front right now in terms of what's going on, and also, this whole homeschooling thing that's happening, especially in the UK and the US, I think, where things are more in a lockdown compared to Iceland. So the overall business transition has happened much faster than I anticipated from traditional sort of ... I mean, not a lot has changing for us as consumers, but it's kind of what channel you use, no longer what channel you flick on, it's more what streaming service do I pick up? And where do I get my entertainment fix of the day. So that is kind of changing a lot and especially also around sort of moving entertainment closer to being part of this revolution in terms of education. And so there's a lot of creative thoughts floating around that, and that's kind of where we're at, sort of at an expanded sort of outline of the series. But also in general, it's sort of increased the opportunities of producers to get your content out there. It's you just have to go to the BBC or whom ever you go to in the UK. So that's pretty interesting what's happening without transition. On the other end, I have this Aldin Biodome concept that we're sort of, it's I mean, it's, we have the plot, it's, it's being developed. And we're so happy to, or lucky to be working with Lucas Niera the UK architect, where they actually came and just said, we want to work with you. That's kind of like a, you know, Biodome full of nature, in the cold and dark in Iceland. And we've sort of also been thinking about how to sort of position. Because it's not about sort of going in, like I guess in the UK, you know, the Eden Project, where you sort of see all these plants and all that, but for us, it's more about positioning it as a lifestyle opportunity. Because, as you know in this world, going into nature is kind of lost in the big cities, such as London and New York and we're we are. So this is kind of creating this new world where you can actually, even if you live in the city, go in and be in nature and sort of, you know, improve your mental health and whatever health there is. So that's kind of where we're seeing also, because due to the pandemic, kind of the flow of information between us and potential investors sort of got on hold. But I'm seeing a significant pickup in interest. I'm seeing, you know, like those kind of investors that are more on the family office side, really wanting to put money towards something that has this kind of positive effect on society. So I think things are hopefully going to turn out positive.

Mark Bergin 13:05

So a project like this has a five to 10 year span that it needs to run.

Agúst Ingasson 13:10


Mark Bergin 13:11

A lot of that is actually trying to onboard people who needed to be excited and charged about the proposition that's been put forward. And there's some reform action, that's in there. It's not, you're not in construction phase at the moment. So the fact that there's no tourists who are flooding into Iceland to go look at this, isn't a problem.

Agúst Ingasson 13:32


Mark Bergin 13:33

So that's a temporary interruption for current tourism operators, but there's no reason why future tourism operators and attractions aren't actually making hay while this is going on, and actually getting on with the next wave of projects.

Agúst Ingasson 13:48

Yeah, for sure. I mean, we're looking at opening in 2023 so it's like this current disruption of no tourism is in no way, so it's actually a bonus or a plus from a financial point of view, because the Icelandic currency is weaker, so it's cheaper to get sort of, you know, you get more value for whatever Euro we get as an investment. So from that, it's an opportunity in that sense.

Mark Bergin 14:20

And that's been interesting seeing global currencies where, you know, the idea of quantitative easing or modern management theory that, you know, you can keep printing money to go and actually fund things, is a great theory as long as everybody's actually doing that to their currency at the same time. So what that means is we know that against China, that the Chinese currency isn't doing that. So then you actually say the Chinese currency is going up dramatically as everyone else is actually saying, we're using some monetary theory to bring things in balance in our economy. An interesting story that came out from Melbourne is that, in Melbourne when we had the lockdown, the golf courses that normally have, you know, very few people on them, if you go think an 18 hole golf course may have 100 to 200 people going around the golf course. But some of these golf courses were in very urban areas. And now people were using them as parks because we had limited kilometers of where we could travel. And all of a sudden they were now walking around the golf course. And there's a policy shift which is, should golf courses be for the thousands of people who live around them? Or should golf courses be for the 200 people who are playing around on them. And that's been really interesting to see people wanting to adopt nature in that sense. So I think that project that you're doing is absolutely astounding. David Keech, I want to get across to you. Because I think the last time we tried to catch up in London last year, you couldn't do it because you were flying off all around Europe, and you were making films with your teams, and you were doing design research projects. And that phase is now, I've noticed on your social media, for some strange reason that's slowed down or stopped. But you're producing an incredible amount of projects out of the studio. And I've also seen a different nature of the projects you're producing. Want to give me a bit of insight?

David Keech 16:20

Yeah, it's sad to see the demise of my air miles account, which was doing very well. And of course, that's not a bad thing, you know, we shouldn't really be doing all that flying. A lot of our works in the Far East in Japan, so that necessitated a lot of trips, you know, maybe four or five trips to Japan each year. And yeah, it's really strange. I have to be honest about it really. Everyone says, oh yeah, it's great to be working at home and although it's really strange to just suddenly not be doing any business travel. But yeah, you know, design and creativity is all about adapting and surviving. And I think one of the things that's really come to the fore is that, it came to me very quickly that you have to keep the team strong, and the team has to stay together, just like a football team or anything else. And to keep doing the kind of self generated projects. We've really put a lot of energy into that. And when things were far more hectic and busy as they were when you know, you hadn't got time to think because you were traveling all the time, you had less room to do all this kind of thing. So now, you know, we're starting to devote more time to, you know, our own work. And that's really important for us. And I think it struck me that's a good thing, because that's what you do if you're an artist or a musician. You don't suddenly say, oh, you know, I'm going to further myself, you know, because there's no gigs, or whatever it is. You have to keep the creativity going, you know, you you start composing or you work on your technique or something. And so the takeaway from that for us is that sort of speculative, really kind of fun, enjoyable, creative work that we made ourselves do, fantastically it's kind of paid off. Because the vibe of it, you know, clients really like it. It hasn't got that sort of sense of you know, that there has to be a conclusion to this ie. give us some money guys, you know, it's more to do with well we've done this, we've worked on this, what do you guys think? And I think that's been a real eye opener for us. And guess what, you know, there's government money available for R&D. And it is R&D, and it can be proved to be research and development, there's money available for that which you know, which is deductible from your Corporation Tax. So doing your work as an artist or a musician would do, I think is a big learning for us.

Mark Bergin 19:12

And, I just want to start across to Will Knight for the moment. Will you've got your network that you run, as well as working on the DRIVENxDESIGN Award programs, but you've got Design Dialogue. Isn't there one of the people in the Design Dialogue network, who's speciality is actually, things like grants and the financial modeling for design studios?

William Knight 19:36

Yeah, the network consists of all sorts of different kind of skills bases. We recently had a session that featured a guy called Barry Cumberlidge who runs an accountancy and tax specialist called Moose. And he kind of ran us through a whole series of macro, through some micro issues that will affect the industry. So we're going to kind of keep in touch with him and do a kind of quarterly episode with him. Because obviously things are changing. And you know everything, again from the political situation globally all the way through to things like R&D tax credits, which David just referenced.

Mark Bergin 20:17

Yeah. Good there. And then Jordan, I want to go across to you, because I think your world's changed probably more than many. You know, particularly the work that I'd seen you do over the last five years, so much has been about experiences and brand activations that are done in a physical world. Now you're doing things which are a hybrid between the physical world and also in a digitally connected world. What's happened in the New Possibilities over the last six months? And what do you think's in the 12 month's forwards?

Jordan Waid 20:53

Yeah, well I've seen lots of change. I am originally an architect and then got into media design and digital, and gravitated into the brand experience world. So that was doing Champions League, Pavilions, Olympic pavilions, auto shows, all sorts of things where people would go and visit. And obviously now we're visiting virtually, and it's a different kind of world right now. And it's been interesting where I work, we did a complete pivot, because we have like Rolls Royce, Disney, BBC through an agency I consult for, and they had different events where they met yearly. And those have all been wiped away, obviously. And so we created something called the Virtual Experience Lab, which is a way to get people to engage at a different level and still take the learnings we have, brand experiences and immersive environments and apply that digitally. It's not like you just put on some VR goggles. It's about how you get people to engage, and there's psychologies behind it. And so every seven minutes or so we have something where people are creating or doing something, you know, if it's putting virtual sticky notes up, or whatever. And it's really important, otherwise we all feel disconnected. And we kind of sit back until we hear our name called and then we're up, you know, and paying attention. And so that's interesting. And then going back to your question Mark, what I've seen over the past six months, which I find fascinating, is time. And we have a new concept of time. We've gotten time given back to us. We used to be addicted to traveling with this travel addiction, whether it was just locally to work, or whether it was to Asia or Americas or wherever. And it's really interesting, because what I've seen is there's been lots of time for thinking time and creative time, which is great. And that's what's going on in the six months. And you can kind of feel it, and then what's going on in the next 12 months I look at as output. And I think that this is where we're going to start to see the seeds of innovation, where we're going to see, I mean, we're already looking at the way the climate has changed and everything. I think now, with our travel addictions, we'll have more of a climate addiction, in a sense, where we've got to reboot and restart, and really kind of look at things differently and be a bit more conscious when we decide to travel and how we travel and where we travel. And it shifted everything. And I think it's, I mean, with the exception of the financial crisis and all the deaths, you know, aside and health problems, I think there is this kind of shift that's happening right now which we've all been talking about, and wondering how and what - and it's happened, and we're in it right now, we don't even realize it in some regards. And I think it's going to be really incredible to see what comes out of it. Because you just look back in 2008 with the financial crisis, and that's when, you know, Slack, Uber, Pinterest, WhatsApp, all these things were born out of that era. And we're using them now you know, full on. So what's going to happen in the next 12 years that's being kind of brought to life you know, born right now? So I'm excited about that. And that's how I'm kind of looking at everything. I'm cognizant of the time so I want to hear everybody else speak as well. But those are some of my thoughts on the six months.

Mark Bergin 24:41

No that's really good. And you know, there's a really interesting thing, Jordan's got significant connections through to the States. We've seen in, you know, what's happened with the States in the election. We also saw with Black Lives Matter that was coming along and we were talking about .... One of the things that came out of the US Town Halls was the idea that it's time for the 28th Amendment. And then the big question comes up is, well, what is the 28th Amendment because it seems like there's a shopping list of not one issue in the US, it's almost like there's another Bill of Rights coming through of, you know, maybe five or 10 amendments to go get there. And that's interesting that we're seeing that acceleration coming in there. But Kirsty I want to throw across to you, because I saw in what Jordan was talking about, there was this idea that we've got a different concept of time. But you've also in the pre conversation, we were talking about the idea that there was a different idea of connection as well. And that idea that you're networking with some people that you may not normally have network with. Give me a bit of insight about that, and also then I want to dig into what's happening with Pressman Goode. Because we've, in the last couple of Town Halls we've talked about what's happening with the team, the office dogs, and I think that's really important to actually do that. But I want to get into that the connections first. Tell me what you've seen happen in the last six months?

Kirsty Dias 26:05

Well, I guess the opportunity to, you know, created by forums like this, created by Will's Design Dialogue and a number of others, have created this virtual community of, you know, other design industry peers to kind of, I guess, come together to discuss and talk about what this future might be. And, you know, I've really appreciated that. And I think that's been a great thing to come out of this. I was also just going to echo David's comments about, you know, being match fit. I think this has had such a, you know, the experience has had such a positive impact on our process. And we have approached it in exactly the same way. I mean, Priestman Goode have, you know, had a long history of always doing self generated projects. But I think this time, we have kind of actively approached it in that way you would if you were an athlete. That you have to practice all the skills all the time, because how can you expect somebody to just like, come up with an idea out of nowhere, if you're not like constantly doing that. And you know, we work on very long term projects, and so that, you know, the, all of the skills from idea generation, right through to kind of much more kind of technical detailing, aren't necessarily practiced on a really regular basis. And I think that, you know, we've actively sought to address that, during this period. And also to kind of broaden the conversation around what the future, you know, will look like, and make sure that that conversation is happening with everyone in the organization. So it's not just being led by kind of seniors, but that the ideas are coming, you know, from ground up from juniors, onwards, because, you know, in lots of ways the future is there. So it's really important to mix that up, you know, from a generation point of view. Because I think the younger generation do have such a different experience of, you know, technology of all those things than, you know, older generations do, who are still working. Of course, that's a really powerful combination of, you know, new approaches with, you know, very experienced hands as well. So I was interested that, you know, Will referenced earlier that Martha with him, he runs Design Dialogue, you know, comes from a younger generation, and that, of course, really broadens your access to ideas as well as people and networking.

Mark Bergin 28:59

Yeah. And I think that's such an important thing in there. And, you know, one of the things as I look at the panel that I've got here that is very evident for me is that we've got a pure gender bias. And I want to just drill into that for a little while, because when we send out the invitations, we actually send them out that they're balanced, and that we actually have gender neutrality in the number of males and females. But today when, before the call began, we had a couple of cancellations. And those cancellations were females who didn't or weren't able to be on this call because of other priorities. But if I think back over the last 29 other Town Halls, that's been a behavior that's in there, which is a gender inclusion and diversity challenge, which I think Loïc, I'm going to come to you in a moment and we'll speak about that because I think it's worthwhile. You highlighted that as being important. We'll go and we'll actually do a whole session about that because we need to work out how we're actually using this to understand the opportunity, as Kirsty was saying about connecting and networking, but we also should be using it as a way to do a diagnostic on, well, what are the patterns that we're seeing? And how do we actually use those as early interventions to try to make sure that we're not falling into this maybe predestined behaviors that we've got. Which means that, I may wind up with a lot of men on the call, and not a lot of women, because they're not getting the diversity. It's not that your voice is unimportant, it's actually those other voices are really important, which was one of the things that we found out when we were going through the Black Lives Matter series in the US. How do we go get the alternative voices in the ones that we normally don't hear? So you know, I think that's such an important thing that we also use this as a way to go and distill and synthesize those New Possibilities, not just try and grab the low hanging fruit that's in there. Loïc, Berlin, you're not like Melbourne at all, you've got the pandemic running there, but you called it, it was like a light lockdown that you're doing. What's the actual technical term for it?

Loic Sattler 31:05

Soft lockdown. But it's a personal opinion. But yeah, but anyways, it feels like you know, that the German government is trusting the people to behave and do the good actions, which gives a bit more freedom sometimes. Even though I have to say restaurants and bars and all these places are locked, closed, or you can have takeaways, but that's it.

Mark Bergin 31:34

So then the work that you're seeing that's coming through and I know the client portfolio and I know the type of innovative projects that you're doing, a lot like most people on the call here, that they're quite longitudinal projects. And they're very hard to go talk about because you're changing the organization as you're going through, there's no product that pops out. David, I love your work, because there's always these beautiful renderings that come out. It's like, oh, here's a new thing. It's an artifact. What are you seeing for your client base that they're getting in with the New Possible? And are they accelerating or are they recoiling, as John had said, you know, there's a bit of a recoil for a little while?

Loic Sattler 32:16

And I have to say due to the pandemic, companies are, you know, digitizing their businesses as much as they can, especially to protect their employees and serve the customers mobility restrictions, right. So, you know, if you look at the data, it shows that we have made a five year step in two months, or some months, which is amazing. So we're working on a huge amount of digital services these days. And we will probably remember, you know, these days, as you know, historic when it comes to deployment of remote work and digital access to services across any domain, actually. So if you look at all the collaboration, collaborative tools that we get, and the way we interact together, nowadays, it's oppressive, and how fast it went. So yeah, this is where we see the shift. So everyone wants to focus on the services and go massively fast, to ship those services.

Mark Bergin 33:18

And it is very interesting, we've got the DLD conference in Germany with Scott Galloway who's one of those superstars of that conference there. Scott was talking about the idea of decades in days, and that what we're seeing is that an entire decade's worth of either creation or destruction is happening now in a period of days. And that actually references back to the Russian Revolution with Lenin. Lenin was saying that there were decades when nothing happened in Russia, and then all of a sudden, there's days where an entire decade of change happens. So see, now these things we know happen, that time isn't linear in that sense. And in the Melbourne call a couple of weeks ago, we had people who were agreeing that both this year has been the shortest year that they've known, it's also been the longest year. And exactly the same people think it's been a short year because time's running so fast, but also is the longest year because time isn't moving on. And I go that's an interesting scenario in there. But I think that idea of the decades in days is really important. Because if we go think of the industries that actually normally don't last decade, David, I'm thinking of some of the bands that you would have seen come around in the last decade that don't make it through a decade. And then there's other bands, going three or four decades. Entertainment venues that come and go. Cafes that come and go - it's very unusual for a cafe to last a decade. And so the people who are closed may never reopen again because that decade in days is taken place. Where is what you're seeing Loïc is if you're getting acceleration in your projects, where you're getting five years or half a decade happening in a number of days. And that is so important that we've got to remember that there are surges that are going on which creates economic momentum, it creates potential energy from an economics perspective, as well as the destruction that's there. Because we don't focus on where that New Possibility is, we don't accelerate into that possibility. We just think about the destruction, we don't think about what we made in this point in time. And I do want to go across, and I'm goning to go to John Williams. John this is your first time joining us on the town hall here. So I'm glad that you've been able to join us. You're world's office interiors. I think there's a whole place called the City of London where the the lifts run too slow to fill up the buildings on social distancing. But I don't want to go into those offices, I want to go to the offices where people can inhabit them. How's that changing for you, as far as there would have been, we don't know what to do with the office? And now we've got people are saying we've got to get people back into the office, because there's a purpose to be there. What are you seeing?

John Williams 36:06

And yeah, I think the last six months has been, you know, an absolute game changer. I think it was John said before, John Mathers, he talked about there's nothing like a crisis to solve a design problem. And that's, you know, so true in workplace design. And so yeah, so the whole, you know, the whole thing about interior design is, it's about people, isn't it? Everything is about people, and how people use space. And, you know, when you get a pandemic, and everything is locked down, and people can't use space anymore, yeah, it brings into question well what are we going to do with it. You know things like, well actually, why am I traveling to work, I don't need to travel to work. And it brings in those sort of real big, fundamental questions. And I think what's happened in the workplace is that people are thinking about going to work for a specific reason, for an experience, to do something that's important. And those things are important, you know, collaboration, and real emphasis on culture. And, you know, how can our workplace actually strengthen that brand? You know, it just brings into the question as people, what do we need to do in a specific workplace? So that's been really important. And that's actually applied to pretty much every sector, you know, to get people up and out of their homes to go somewhere, whether it's a retail environment, or it's a hospitality environment. And it's just sort of brought it into question of why we're doing what we're doing, and what the space actually needs to achieve. And I think as a designer, it's very exciting to go through this sort of process. But you know, for me, I think it's really there's some real positive aspects to come out of this, really positive aspects. I think there's been a huge focus on sustainability, and, you know, a circular economy and net zero carbon projects, you know, I think that's really going to come to the fore in due course. You know, things like in retail, where, yes, okay, the high street isn't as busy anymore. But we're now starting to think about well what can we do to stop where it's residential, it's office schemes that will come back full circle, which will then bring retail back into the high street. And so there is some definite positives in all of this. And, you know, as a designer, it's about finding those and making it benefit human beings.

Mark Bergin 38:48

And I'll put in the show notes, or I'll put a link into a project that was done in Australia, which was called Renew Newcastle. And Will, I think we'll have a chat when we pick up you in a moment or two, the Sutherland Project that's been done in the UK is very similar. It's actually how do you go do reactivation from an economic perspective in retail footfall to then help go generate other economic benefits that come into the city in there. But I do want to go across to Michael here. Michael, you've seen a huge amount of change in innovation that's happened as people have been changing their workplaces. And I want to dig into that a little bit. But just before we leave John there, I was thinking about the idea, wouldn't it be great if soccer hooligans could work from home for a little while and trash their own place rather than actually trash everyone else's place? That is a crazy idea there. Now Michael, I want to go in here and actually focus on, you know, the idea of the schemes and the programs that you had sheduled for office furniture during 2020. You probably tore that up and you've had to go and actually think totally new as far as what furniture was needed by the market. And what would actually fit these changing needs. One of your contemporaries in Australia, they were talking about they went from doing 1000 office fitouts in a week into 1000 home office fit outs. And now they're moving back to actually 1000 office reconfigurations because what's going on there. And it feels to me like one of those multiplayer games where all of the troops are running across the field together and then running across back in the other direction. What have you seen happen in the furniture world?

Michael Lambrianos 40:39

Well interestingly enough, the furniture that's existed ann the new products that have been released over the last few years, are still fit for purpose. I think what we're now looking at is how to redesign the office environment with existing products to negate what we're seeing as the long term effects of working from home. So a lot of the discussions have now, like you mentioned, it, even just a few months ago, it was all about working from home, working from home. People were saying that they're much more productive when they're working from home. That's not really true. It always depends on the type of job that you do. If you're a software coder, if you work in a call center, then working from home is great. But if you work in a role which requires any degree of innovation and creativity, then employees are suffering. There's a very, very low level of engagement at the moment. And people are not able to switch off because they're working from home. And as you know, the way it goes with brainstorming, doesn't mean that you'll come up with better ideas. So the same thing goes with working from home. And so now the questions are around, how do we return to the working environment safely. We need to revise occupancy because the majority of companies are saying, well, maximum 60 to 80% occupancy, and that's quite high. We think it will be significantly lower than that. There was actually a company in Italy, in Turin that have been one of the first to open a Covid compliant workplace. And a lot of it has to do with activity based working, agile, using technology that helps to sanitize surfaces. So there's definitely been this forced experiment of what happens if we decided to work remotely. And now we've seen the results of this forced experiment. And we have the luck of having all this data that we can now use to understand, you know, utilization, engagement. I think the things that we've noticed the most is, how does leadership work when everything is done remotely. It's very difficult for leaders to mentor Junior employees, it's also very difficult for employees to earn the trust of their managers. And for new people that have joined a business, the onboarding is definitely subpar, doesn't matter, which which company you're looking at. And after a few months, you know, you don't really feel the company culture, you haven't had any of those random conversations with people. So I think that's what people miss the most. It's like Steve Jobs used to say that the best ideas come from when you just bump into someone and you end up having a random conversation and ideas come up, and then you say, let's run with it. And that's not happening anymore because everything's become a lot more formal. And when you're scheduling calls with people that you've never met, or never worked with, it's difficult to feel at ease and be yourself. So it will be a nice blend of working from home and a new type of office that allows people who are at home, to not have that presence disparity with the people who are in the office. And so it'll take a long time. But there's an evolution of the workplace that's starting to take place, which is really exciting to be a part of and to witness, and all over the world. I mean, as an example, we've not seen the first lawsuits because of COVID in the US and the workplace. So there's definitely more incentive to try and make sure that things like that don't happen elsewhere in the world. No, we're definitely learning from each other. There's a great knowledge transfer happening across from many, many different cultures, which we hadn't seen before. Because I think everybody thought that they had their own way of developing the workplace that was suitable for their country for the people that worked in their city and what was right for them. And now we're quite happy to take other people's perspectives. I think one of the great things of this pandemic is that people are starting to realize that not everybody sees the world the same way. And respecting that, which is warming.

Mark Bergin 45:22

And I think I'll dig in there a little bit about the medical side and innovation. But also, I want to go to that point of view, we've had a test in the last week where we've seen over 150 million people in the United States come together and say that they either thought that person A or Person B was the right person. And if I go look at the difference between the groups, one of them is actually believing that they can make something great again by going backwards. And what we know is that their grandfathers, that they would like to return back to the era of their grandfathers, where their grandfathers were trying to go forward. So you've got this really interesting reflective, I want to be like my grandfather, but you're not being like your grandfather at all. Your grandfather was progressive and was dynamic and was running into the future. But because of economic cycles, and mainly to do with neoliberalism and the way that economies were damaged, that they're feeling left out and the only option they've got is to go back to something they knew. They haven't got the courage or the skills, the where-with-all to actually accelerate into the future. So, that's what we've seen happening with medicine. So if you look at the infection rates in the US and you look at infections versus deaths, you see in the very early stage of the charts they map along in a progressive manner. And then all of a sudden, the death rate just dives and dives and dives. And even now as the infection rates going up, the death rate is still diving down. And I look at that, and you go well, that's innovation, that's about sharing knowledge, and that's actually about technique. And it's understanding it's big data that's behind it. There's so much innovation that's coming through there. Because the number of deaths that were in that first wave that we particularly had with New York, is just totally gone now. We're seeing it's almost getting to the worrying stage, because we were looking at death rates as being the measure, but there's actually the long term COVID morbity. So what we're seeing there is that innovation that's coming in. But I do want to go across to Phil. I've been seeing you nodding and I've been seeing you go and actually spend lots of time making notes. What I want to do is just dig in here. Because one of the things I love about having you on the calls Phil, is that you're patient, but you come up with these absolute gems. So you've heard what we've been talking about. But I also want to hear about your own circumstance? What have you seen in the last six months? And what do you think's coming up for the next 12?

Phil Nutley 48:05

Thanks, no pressure there Mark. Hopefully my notes. Yeah, it's always fascinating when I come on these calls. Thanks. And then, you know, the way Michael's talking about the levels of engagement. Look, behind me here, I should have been having about 45 people in this week, putting them through virtual spaces, not only so that they could see what they're looking at, but how we can understand what they're feeling. We've been looking at emotive AI biometric data working with some really smart partners. But one of the things I suppose I'm interested in and what I'm seeing is that we're beginning to collide process with passion. And I think to even to what, you know, Kirstie was talking about earlier, this idea of, you know, wanting all of us to kind of practice our best skills and come together and kind of get to the future faster. Right. You know, one of the things we've been looking at this week is, I mean, it's great to hear Jordan's using kind of immersive tech, virtual tech with brands. A lot of the stuff I'm working on currently is looking at hospital staff and families. We're working on a hospital project, where we're using immersive technology. And some of you might have read there was an article about wobble room. So clearly as the pressures on the staff within global environments on having to treat so many patients and the emotional effects of that. We're starting to look at how we use our technology in particularly between families and hospital staff, and redesign the wards and the clinical spaces, to really think about how the staff are feeling, but to kind of immerse them in those spaces quicker. So a lot of where we're using technology, it's to get that almost back of house, to feel a little bit more that people are kind of invited into that process earlier. And I think that's been super, super interesting. Although, I'm nodding a lot when Michael was talking there, because it's difficult because usually as a creative, we love to be in the same space. You know, as I say, you can see here we had a space booked out here at the Fuse Box in Brighton to invite all those people in. I'm clearly on my own here because of, obviously, our restrictions that we couldn't run those tests. And, you know, to Michael's point, and others nodding on the call here, you know, it's those sidebar chats with some of those users and the quick cup of tea and a biscuit that gets you that level of engagement, you know, you you reduce that formality down. So yeh, you know for me, definitely the process has been around finding more and more people with those passions, and getting them involved. But that, you know, moving forward, we hope, particularly with this possible vaccine, we can gather more and more people together. And I think those levels of engagement increasing will see us, you know, really accelerate some of, you know, those new ways of thinking. And I think more and more people will be far more passionate, want to come together and share more. There'd be less foldy-armed as I think we were, and they'd come more open to a conversation and go right, how can I bring my best to this conversation.

Mark Bergin 51:31

Just before I throw across to Will here, Dave Keech, I want to go across to you, because I'm thinking about your creativity and passion. That's what the music industry is always about. And for those of you that don't know, David is, he's really a musician who's parading as a designer. I think if we gave him a choice of one of the two, he probably say, just let me go and blow some tunes out. But that's interesting isn't it. It's like, you've got this, for so long the design industry was actually caught in making the client happy. And that creativity and passion wasn't there as much. But now we're getting clients are actually saying, can you help us out? And can we get that creativity and passion to come together? So it feels like a really interesting period. The thing that makes great music is passion and creativity. If somebody's just, you know, phoning it in, it doesn't work. That's really interesting. Are you finding that in the studio, that people are actually coming together a little bit more like they're doing a gig, than they are actually coming to the office?

David Keech 52:34

I think so. It's a great point. And yeah. By the way, I'm a designer masquerading as a musician.

Mark Bergin 52:47

You don't need to pretend. I know where your passion is come on.

David Keech 52:50

But on a serious level, your right. And that's how the music business works. You can't really hide when you get on stage. You've got to, as Kirsty was saying, you got to have your chops together, you got to be match fit, you got to be good. And that's all a given. But the exchange of ideas and creativity is the currency of music. That's how it works. And just a case in point, you know, I noticed over the years that I've got one or two social media identities and the music one has always been very, very busy. And you get loads of followers when people like everything you do. But the design one is always a bit sniffy, you know, what are those guys up to? Yeah, what a great term that kind of folded arm and shoulder thing that we ... And of course, design is very much connected to money and business, you know, down to the roots of it. But, of course, music is as well, you have to get paid when you play. So there's loads of good stuff that happens in music that I think we can transfer. I think that just leads on nicely to, you know, cross platform creativity. It used to be that people used to say, and what are you are you a product designer or an architect? And then if you said, well you know what, I love both, we do both, becomes very suspicious, you know. And even worse, if you said, yeah, you know I'm also a jazz musician. They'd be like, no, come on. Sorry mate. You can't do those things. You don't do all those things. But now, loads of people do, you know, do lots of different things. They write books, put on plays, you know, that's a great age that we're living in where there's more of that happening.

Mark Bergin 54:40

Yeah. Do you know those Oxo big handled tools for kitchen utensils, designed by a guy named Dan Formosa from Smart Design in New York? Well, Dan is also he's a fanatic when it comes to effects pedals for guitars and he's also fanatic on books about baseball. He's written the guide with a couple of collaborators on baseball. And he says exactly the same thing. He can do these amazing talks about aging and Human Centered Design. Crickets, he hears nothing. And he puts an article about a new effects pedal or historical effects pedal, and he hears about it for decades, you know, this thing just keeps everyone talking about it. And the same thing about baseball. So I think there it's actually, when David and I first met, the branding for what we were doing was called the Design 100. And I realized that there was a problem there because we weren't including everybody. And, I set down actually at this desk here for about three months after being on tour. And I turned around to my assistant, and I just said, in frustration, I'm trying to write a little manifesto that helps to get everybody involved with design. And I just want them to know they can be driven by design. Because what we do is that we think this conversation is about designers, that it's not about everybody. And what we're seeing, if we go think of that innovation, data led approach that is helping the medical science, it's about everybody. We've got to work out how do we get everybody in the room, and everybody driving this in here? Will I want to go across to you because David mentioned there about the idea of the cross platform and the different formats that are in there. You know, your world particularly coming in design promotion and with things like Dubai Design Week, Clarke and Well Hundred Percent Design, going back to LDF a while ago, they were very fixed formats, weren't they? They were all in the physical world. They were nothing like what Phil was talking about, the idea of virtual presentation as what Jordan's doing. What are you seeing that's happened in that space? Has it been about disruption? Or has it been about people catching their breath and working out what a new path to charge forward on?

William Knight 57:00

Yeah, it's an interesting question. And I don't think from a kind of UK events industry perspective, we've seen the full flush through of all the changes that people have had to respond to. The reality is the last commercial design show that took place in this country is now, it's well and truly over 12 months ago. I think from an events industry perspective, there is huge damage that will have occurred. And that's across all sectors. I think from a kind of design promotion perspective, my strong sense, and I've said this on this forum before was that the platforms and the way in which design has been promoted and exercised, particularly in the commercial sector was really lacking a kind of cutting edge. So to some extent, I think, going back to our churchillian quote, I think this crisis presents an opportunity to reframe how we promote design and we get audiences to engage. But I think to some extent, picking up on this notion of where passion and professionalism kind of meet, events are the perfect persona of where that kind of comes together. We've seen a huge range of designers really make their names doing passion projects that have come to life at trade exhibitions, in design festivals. That's really, you know, where creativity can be expressed in quite a dynamic way and for different types of audiences to them. I do not think that the digital domain really answers that question that we all ask ourselves, which is to come together, which is to look at these things in a physical dimension in a context. And I think, you know, there's going to be a huge amount of reframing that needs to kind of happen, and I'm not quite sure how it will work. But what I do know is that the networks that I'm part of, and I'm pleased to be connected to, are you know, chomping at the bit to come back together. And some of that is as simple as having a drink in a pub and a bit of an industry chit chat that no one else is particularly listening to. But, you know, that those stages are set, and I think there's going to be a great demand for them.

Mark Bergin 59:21

Yeah. And I think there, you know, there's some things that we do know and we don't know. And one of the interesting things, the difference between this European UK session and what I'm going to do next week in the US, is that the Americans will tell me infatically, this is what's going to happen. Their confidence is, it's like it's almost that their confidence is almost blinding in there. And that came up as a reference from an Australian comedian, Hannah Gatsby, who did this show. Originally she did Annette, which I think a lot of people saw, and then she's done another one called Douglas Adams. I'll put a link into Douglas. The proposition that she makes is that maybe that confidence actually is blinding people as well. And what's been really interesting about this conversation is that there's knowledge and there's expertise. But there's uncertainty which means that we're still trying to work out, we're still stumbling through and working out exactly what it is that the next 12 months is going to have. But it's been interesting going and getting all of your perspectives here, because not only have we been able to go talk about this session, but for the viewers, there's actually a chat window going on here, which is just ideas that are coming out from the panelists about future sessions. And some of them have to do with, you know, how we're using data and how we're thinking about the world we're in, others to do with that diversity and inclusion that's in there. And that's what this is about, which is starting a conversation, giving you some grounding points. But then moving on beyond there. Now, I'm going to go get very close to a wrap up, we've got a little bit over an hour here, and the audience have obviously been getting a lot of great value. I've been getting that too. Panel, is there anything that anyone wants to actually add before we wrap up and get out of this and get on to other things? Will, you've got something there. Yeah, go for it.

William Knight 1:01:20

Um, I mentioned a session that Design Dialogue had earlier this week. And this was not my idea at all. But it is something that has really stuck with me. And we rather depressingly have, from time to time, televise press conferences, which feature the Chief Medical Officer and the head of the NHS. And the DPA, the Design Business Association have this idea that actually what we really need is a Chief Design Advisor in this country. And I think this may touch on a few things that we've talked about not these kind of passion, but also leadership. I think, you know, one of these kind of high profile positions that really speaks across different sectors, would be one thing that we could really invest in and get behind.

Mark Bergin 1:02:00

Yeah, and many of you would know that I used to have a role in the government here in Australia for a short period of time. I would say, Creative Director for the state of Victoria. In other words, the Chief Design Officer, before we used those terms. And what was interesting about that role, I had the government ask me, could I make sure that everybody could buy an internet and get multimedia. And that was my brief. And they gave me around about half a billion pounds. And they said, can you go off and do this. So the idea of having a Chief Officer in government may mean that the literacy inside government needs to actually go up a long way before they can be able to use it. Fortunately, in my case, they had somebody who was responsible and understood what to do there. But I really could have used that money for anything under the sun, I could have gone and done whatever I wanted, because I didn't know there was a lacking literacy between what was an ideal that they'd heard about the creative economy coming around, and digital media, and actually having the governance in place. I think it's a great idea Will but what our responsibility is, as C-suite executives in the design industry, is how do we actually go into the Cabinet Office? How do we go into policy makers, the people who do the machinery of government? And how do we help them to understand that design is the most proven, effective, reliable way to satisfy human needs? And if you're in government, but you want to do satisfy human needs, at the lowest amount of resources, so that you get reelected, and you've got money left in the bank, and that's a pretty simple equation. So I think it's evident there. But we need to make sure that we're on that front foot, and we're having those conversations there. So panelists, thank you so much for your time. This has been astounding. I hope that lockdown in the UK goes well for you. We'll be back in four weeks time to go and actually check in and find out how you're all going in your bubbles. Loïc apparently you're in soft lockdown. So you'll be able to walk around and behave yourself. And we're still having what we call donut days here in Melbourne, that we're getting zero cases. And what's really interesting, Sydney doesn't have a mask on policy. Melbourne does. Sydney in New South Wales is getting 12 infections a day, Victoria that has a mask all the time policy is getting zero infection each day. And that says to me what happens when you put the mask in, and you know it's now become a political thing. But we're seeing so many things that are telling us that there is a right way to go handle the pandemic. And there are some other ways which could be improved. I think there's a right way to talk about them. Thank you very much for your time panel and audience. Thank you. Next week we're heading off to the US. We'll be talking to people who actually have had hope elevated again. When I heard Biden's speech where he's talking about better futures and was talking about elevating, hoping and a better future in there, I thought maybe I'd written the speech for him because that's what we've been talking about for the last 12 months. I look forward to seeing you. And next time we do a Town Hall. Thank you.

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