8 ways to inspire innovation in the business of architecture


The following is an adaptation from the book ” Busby: Architecture’s New Edges.” 

In architecture, as with almost every business, innovation is the most valuable ingredient for success over time.

When designing for clients — whether it is a university facility or a workplace — it is important to nurture a culture of innovation.

This is particularly important in sustainable design, as the impacts of climate change increasingly require architects to demonstrate ingenuity in environmental problem-solving. Investing in innovation is sure to reap healthy returns on business and the planet.

Here are a few best practices for architects to encourage creativity and innovation:

1. Use the office as an innovation lab

Successful architecture firms allow people the time and physical space to chase new ideas, do research, and exchange meaningful ideas with their peers whenever and wherever the mood catches them.

Provide a thoughtfully designed, stimulating work environment for staff that encourages this behavior. Examples might include staircases with wide landings as group seating areas, standup coffee stations where people linger and talk, or a wall of white boards and writable glass.

2. Engage the community

It used to be that a developer would buy property, assemble a plan for how to use it, hire an architect who would obtain the approval from the city, and then the project would get built.

Today, it is essential to consult the entire public — not just city planning departments, but also end-users, occupants, and community groups. Engaging all parties in the process of how a building takes shape encourages idea sharing.

3. Collaborate with an engineer

On their own, designers can come up with virtually any idea for new and different structures. But without well engineered performance systems, even the most spectacular visual expressions are just ideas.

Together, architects and engineers can make ideas a reality by identifying new approaches, material efficiencies, cost savings, and operational systems that allow buildings to perform as well as or better than imagined.

4. Embrace technology

With the advent of powerful digital modeling tools, architects can now experiment more dramatically with form.

From structures that echo the shape of a native orchid to even more complex shapes developed with the aid of 3D design software, architects should leverage a growing suite of technological tools to meet the needs of both the client and the environment.

5. Work with wood

Used to build structures since the beginning of humankind, wood was largely replaced in the mid-19th century by steel and concrete, but it is in fact a far more sustainable design choice.

Steel and concrete both have significantly higher carbon footprints from manufacture and transportation. When wood is harvested responsibly, fewer logs fall to the forest floor and decompose, resulting in less methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Encourage design teams to find new and appealing ways to incorporate wood elements.

6. Experiment with innovation and new materials

Don’t hesitate to test out alternative material choices. From fiberglass and acrylic to curved glass and salvaged mechanical equipment, the use of nontraditional materials can result in unique, practical, and eye-catching designs that impress clients while minimizing environmental impact.

Innovation is at the heart of all successful businesses. Invest time and intellect in innovation around how you practice, and what you design.

7. Explore prefabrication and modular design

Working with modular and prefabricated designs allows architects to simultaneously achieve beauty, sustainability, and cost effectiveness.

By investing in higher quality repetitive elements, designers can accomplish more, aesthetically speaking, while minimizing environmental impacts and keeping overall project costs lower.

8. Seize every opportunity to learn

Internal research and education initiatives empower architects to develop innovative ideas and approaches that can be applied to all projects. Consider investing in and engaging in research projects whose results can be shared with staff, colleagues, and peers.

As time goes on, new technologies, materials, processes, and environmental data will continue to fuel the need for architectural innovation. It is up to architecture firms to prioritize innovation at every level. Doing so will ensure better buildings and, ultimately, better business.

Source: Green Biz

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6 Branding Lessons From Eurostar’s First-Ever Creative Director

6 Branding Lessons From Eurostar’s First-Ever Creative Director

Here follows a few pointers on how best to tell a brand’s story.

1. Talk about your Passions

2. Draw From Experience

3. Keep it Small

4. Cross-Pollinate

5. Do your Research

6. Create A Narrative


Eurostar trains may be built for speed, but it was a good old-fashioned, slow and in-person exchange that got Jenner hired. His position came about after a conversation with Eurostar CEO Nicolas Petrovic at an event. Jenner took the opportunity to explain his take on the relationship between emotion and brands, something he has executed successfully for companies like French luxury perfume and candle brand Diptyque, and a topic that he is very passionate about. This conversation led to a longer lunch, where “I obviously said all the right things,” Jenner says, “and the rest is history.”


Jenner is no stranger to global travel, spending much of his time on the road talking with craftsmen and drawing inspiration from unlikely places, while emailing sketches or inspiration to the designers back in London from his iPhone. His own experiences make him an advocate for better design within travel infrastructure. Most aspects of travel are mass-produced and impersonal, but Jenner looks to inject a level of refinement to enhance the journey. Jenner’s specific plans for Eurostar are not yet public–he does hint at four initiatives in “experience realms” that will “bring love to the experience and cultivate the anticipation and joy at the end of a journey”–but Jenner has toyed with a “blue sky,” (read: daydream) scenario for a Eurostar carriage where the passenger is king.

The design, “pays homage to the golden age of travel while firmly capturing the spirit of the future,” he writes on his site, with an interior finished in hardwood, brushed brass, and carbon fiber. Individual seats clad in tufted fabric include armrests with personalized controls for air, power, wireless connection, etc.


For Jenner, a small studio of no more than 10 people is key to seeing projects through from start to finish without losing site of the overall strategy. His goal is not to design something and shuffle it out the door, but to remain a part of the process and help make design concepts come to life in the real world. “It’s about helping brands see themselves from a new perspective and see the emotional connection they have with their clients,” Jenner says, “It’s not just about the product, it’s about the world.”

The team of designers at the studio work with what Jenner describes as a “step-change approach.” After the initial research phase is complete they’re able to come up with a proposition statement to serve as a guiding force throughout the project. From a branding standpoint, the process is broken down into individual projects to help minimize risk, and maximize the value added at each step.


As creative director, Jenner’s goal will be to revolve all Eurostar platforms–graphic design, interiors, wayfinding–around a single vision. His position is not exclusive, however, as he will continue running his studio and servicing his current client base. Jenner thrives in the studio environment and says it makes each project stronger for the cross-pollination of work, where lessons gleaned from one client carry over to another. His studio is “more about creativity and less about methodology,” he says, putting a premium on breakthrough ideas, like the 2012 concept for a “Volume Contraction Restorer” in airports that would alleviate the physical effects of dehydration and oxygen deprivation during air travel.

With Eurostar, he says that he will function as much as an anthropologist as a designer. “I’m sitting outside observing but my motivation and passion are firmly inside the brand,” he says.


Eurostar is not Jenner’s first venture in designing for a brand that reaches across cultures. In working with Diptyque to bring the French company to New York, Chicago, and London, lots of research went into capturing the heritage of the label and translating it into an experience. “The research process allows us to build a personal rapport with the brand,” Jenner says.

Once his team understands the brand’s raison d’etre, the designers translate these ideas into emotional touch points. At Diptyque’s Leadenhall Market location in London, for example, Jenner designed the interior space by marrying classic Victorian architecture with English patterning and French luxury–using over-sized library cabinets, multilayered, classic mouldings, and stained glass. “You embody all the elements of the place,” Jenner says so “that way you have spaces and environments that are unique each time and have a natural emotional connection with the people who you’re selling your product to.”


Creating that unique environment comes down to a strong narrative. Storytelling is a defining characteristic in Jenner’s work. A Eurostar train becomes a literal cultural connection between Britain and France and Jenner sees this as central to the story of a train linking two distinctly incredible cultures. “This is one of those brands with so many avenues you can go down,” Jenner says. “There’s the opportunity to put handwriting into so many various touch points.”

But, Jenner cautions, you don’t want to go too far afield. “When we work on our own conceptual work, we have the freedom to delve into pure narrative, however when cradling a brand it’s essential the work has a concrete foundation.”

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A Tale of Two Cows…

A Tale of Two Cows…

This infographic uses two cows as a medium for explaining the various types of socio-economic systems in a fun, educational and interesting way.


Strategic Vision Limited