Presented in conjunction with global digital agency, Wunderman-Bienalto and Woolworths Digital Innovation, students from the University of Sydney recently participated in a 13-week design studio to develop a vision for future shopping environments.
Working in inter-disciplinary teams, students from across the disciplines of Design, Architecture and Science collaborated on a design brief that was based on a real-world challenge. The overarching task of the studio was to develop a vision for future shopping environments, both physically and digitally, that improve the experience of customers and staff. Unlike other studios, the outcome was not predetermined and students were tasked with defining the problem their team would focus on.
By applying design innovation methods, students went through a process of understanding the problem, identifying and selecting solutions, and prototyping ideas as tangible experiences. The studio challenged students to develop responses that addressed the problem from a human-centric perspective, not a technology or materials-driven approach.
It can be difficult for students working on a design project to get feedback from stakeholders, such as the people they are designing for or those in charge of an environment that is being redesigned. To address this, a new design workshop was trialled and external people invited to speak with students. “We organised the session as a co-design workshop, during which each student group spent 10 minutes with each external stakeholder. This was a great opportunity for students to collect first-hand data from the people they were designing for and to test some of their early ideas for design interventions. External guests included UX designers from Wunderman-Bienalto and Format Development Managers from Woolworths,” said Associate Professor and Chair of the Design Lab, Martin Tomitsch.
“This opportunity, where we get to collaborate with companies like Woolworths and Wunderman-Bienalto, has given us a taste of what designing real solutions looks like. When you get to share your ideas with your team and with industry professionals, it’s really motivating and rewarding,” said Bachelor of Science student Carol Azzam.
Students pitched their final vision to judges Faye Ilhan, General Manager, Digital Innovation at Woolworths, Neil Boulton, Director at Wunderman-Bienalto and to an audience of invited industry guests. “It was very impressive to see the solutions that students came up with and the deep understanding they were able to develop during just one semester about the challenges in retail,” said Faye Ilhan.
Students Mackenzie Etherington, Sophie Gardner, Matthew Fehlberg and Wen Liang were awarded first prize for their concept, Woolworths Daily Harvest. “My team tackled the design brief by looking at how we could innovate Woolworths metro stores to meet the emerging needs of modern office workers. We wanted to create something that fit into people's busy schedules and helped take the constant planning and overspending out of lunch and dinner. We did a lot of user research and prototyping to get feedback from users, and our final design involves a meal subscription plan where workers can quickly pop into the store, grab a ready-to-cook meal box, swipe their membership card and go home to cook. This takes the portioning, preparation time and planning out of dinner so people can focus on cooking a fresh meal for themselves and their loved ones,” said Bachelor of Design Computing student Sophie Gardner.
“There was some really great design work that came out of the students' projects. Tackling future challenges in the industry will require these kinds of students who are able to work and think across disciplines,” said Neil Boulton.
This unit will be offered again in 2018 as pilot interdisciplinary project unit available to all students across the University as part of the new major in Design and the new Sydney Undergraduate Experience. Students interested in taking the unit next year can contact Cara Wrigley for more information.