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Hey, Is It Time To Mix Things Up? Let’s Collaborate!

There’s a lot to be gained from having multiple perspectives on your A+D project, from enhanced creativity and innovation to improved problem solving so why aren’t more of us collaborating across sectors?



BY Felicity Borthwick

June 30th, 2017


As the A+D industry sees more companies becoming specialists in their various fields, whether that’s retail, healthcare or education, it’s important to look at the benefits of remaining multi-disciplinary. One of the main advantages of collaborating across disciplines of course is that, when you get people from different backgrounds or sectors working on a common project, you end up with a greater number of varied perspectives and suggestions. This also promotes heightened creativity and innovation as employees build upon one another’s ideas. You never know, a practitioner from the hospitality industry may just have the answer to your residential problem because they can see it from a different angle or bring different skills to the mix.

Faisal Butt, the London-based entrepreneur and investor, sums it up perfectly in his article ‘Why Multi-Disciplinary Teams Perform at a Higher Level’ when he says: “Similar people have similar strengths and weaknesses. This leaves teams with ‘blind-spots’ and a narrow perspective when tackling complex, multi-dimensional issues and opportunities. Today, if a company wants to maintain its edge and stay on the forefront of innovation, it needs a diverse and unorthodox team make-up.”

He goes on to give the example of Google and says he has taken a lot of inspiration from the tech conglomerate when setting up his own companies. “The Google workforce consists of bright people from the most prestigious schools but they also hire those who don’t fit into the traditional corporate structure,” he explains. “The search-engine giant employs everyone from scientists, artists, poets and philosophers. Why? Because they recognise that innovation often happens at the crossover points of different industries and ultimately one can take a more holistic and balanced view on business challenges when considering multiple perspectives.”

Indeed, this idea of innovation occurring at the intersection of disciplines is particularly pertinent to the A+D industry. Just look at the current trend towards the corporate world taking design cues from our hospitality industry; Or traditionally more sterile institutions such as hospitals and schools taking a luxe leaf out of the residential world. The boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred thanks to creative collisions between different sectors and our built environments are becoming more exciting, agile and luxurious places because of it.

The design industry can clearly learn a lot from one another and we are starting to see some interesting collaborations emerge, from chair designers engaging with architects to fashion icons bringing runway style to the home; Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang and Calvin Klein, for example, have all used their expertise in the fashion arena to spruce up the homewares industry. Or take a look at Patricia Urquiola, the Queen of collaboration, who has brought a fresh perspective and new approach to a diverse range of brands from Boffi and Laufen to Alessi and B&B Italia (amongst many more) not to mention various residential and commercial interior design projects!

In the spirit of celebrating companies that embrace collaborative working, our INDE.Awards this Friday will be recognising such companies with The Luminary award. Wilkhahn, the sponsor for the award, is a very forward-thinking firm and has collaborated with numerous designers to create high-quality, dynamic office furniture that provides solutions to all of today’s key demands; from agile and activity based working to enhanced comfort and wellbeing, as well as furniture that promotes creative collisions amongst colleagues. To this end, the company itself has won countless awards and its IN chair is widely regarded by industry leaders as one of the world’s best office chairs.

The shortlist of eight nominees for The Luminary award, meanwhile, are also a collective masterclass in multi-disciplinary working; Woods Bagot in particular works across an incredibly diverse portfolio of sectors including Transport, Residential, Education, Retail, Science and Health, Workplace, Hotel and more!

As Faisal Butt, the entrepreneur we mentioned earlier, says: “ When you build a multi-disciplined team, the flow of ideas is dynamic. Of course, I realise not everyone wants to innovate their sector but if you are serious about building an industry-beating, potentially world changing business, start with the people you hire and heed my advice – mix up the talent and gene pool.”

We wish to thank Wilkhahn for joining us in celebrating the creative talent of Asia Pacific as the Official Partner of the Luminary Award for INDE. 2017! 


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