On the final day of the 2014 Rotman Design Tour we had the amazing opportunity to enjoy an inside look into Smart Design, a design consultancy headquartered in New York City. Two “Smarties,” Russell Blanchard and Kristi Candela, explained that at Smart “design is about people, not things” and this value was seen throughout the case studies they shared with us. One case in particular was their recent project with Under Armour. While Smart is known for its award-winning product innovations, the Under Amour project brought to life just how engrained people are at the center of what they do. For this project, it was not just about a new, better sports bra for women. It was about every element of the experience from purchase to use of the bra, and how women wanted to feel wearing the bra.
As a design consultancy, Smart focuses on bringing meaning to people. What makes them unique is that they focus on delivering meaning to both users and their clients; “we try to make people fall in love with our clients.” They also place a heavy emphasis on prototyping, which was a theme throughout the week in New York, that will stick with me throughout my career. At Smart, they prototype to generate ideas, to allow people to form a point of view on ideas, and to stay inspired in their work. While not everyone has a beautiful prototyping workshop like Smart, we can all leverage the power of making something for people to react to. It is a clear way of communicating and a way of encouraging co-creations that I need to embrace more in my work. Thank you Smart Design for showing us the value of prototyping and designing for people, for meaning.
By Kristin Boer, Rotman MBA 2015 @BoerKristin