STAPLES STUDIO + NEW COMMUNITY

JAN 28, 2019

Staples Canada is leading a major business transformation, moving from being an office retail supply store to one anchored in building a community for small businesses. The strategy is to evolve their stores into a national network of co-working spaces (super smart!).  The first concept store, located in Downtown Toronto opened last week. I'm working with them for the next few weeks to build out a strategy around programming, culture, and community. 

 

Few early observations/thoughts: 

 

  • The first step to building community is trust -- which in a co-working space begins with nailing the basics: comfortable furniture, an available seat, reliable internet, and keeping your service promise. If you can't get these right, you don't have a solid foundation to build from. 

  • Communities are anchored in a shared story --- what is a story that feels authentic to a space that has had a story for over 30 years? How is this story formed?

  • Early stage of community building requires intention and dedicated leadership to set the culture and model behavior -- before you open the space for everyone to contribute 

WHAT MAKES A CITY

JAN 10, 2019

Over the holidays, I visited four major European cities -- Dublin, Belfast, Prague, and Vienna. In each one, I tried to get a feel for what the soul of the city was. 

 

My observational analysis came down a few common factors: 

 

  • Availability and quality of public transportation & green space 

  • Use or absence of color in architecture

  • The street food(s) of choice, and how it was made available 

  • Who the most vulnerable community was in the city, and how they were treated 

  • The history of immigration and industrialization, and its impact on evolving monocultures 

  • Relationship with street art, graffiti, stickering and busker

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER

NOV 28, 2018

I just wrapped being part of a play, with my mother. A sentence I never knew I would write. Like Mother, Like Daughter was a play developed by Ravi Jain of Why Not Theatre and Complicite (a London-based theatre company), that brought together mother/daughter pairs for a 60-min unscripted conversation through a game format, followed by a shared meal with the audience. At the end of three shows, I felt an immense amount of peace knowing that I had this profound keep-sake experience with my mother that would always be ours.

 

The biggest lesson I took away from this experience from a design perspective was using games to catalyze vulnerability. The format was genius in its simplicity -- we were invited to play a "game" and pick up pre-written cards with questions on them to ask one another. Questions we usually would not ask one another; sidetracked by the most current events in our lives, and shy to change the conversation dynamic. But, the use of a card allowed us to break our barriers, go deep, learn about our true feelings, desires, and dreams, and feel more connected than we had in years, maybe ever -- all under the guise of a "game."