Design for Innovation
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INGREDIENT 3: ALIGNING PARTNERS FOR SCALE

11 August 2017 - Tim Hawk

What is a partner? The textbook definition of a partner is “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks.” Shared risks: this is the key. A partner on an architectural project has some skin in the game, and is invested in the venture with the architect. Both entities share in the success, assume the risk, and care. So, partners are important and serve the function to help scale the effectiveness of design. Without partners, architects and designers often work in isolation are not able to drive innovation beyond their individual reach. Partnerships take the project from the focused and simple towards a more impactful space which can drive innovation.

At WSA Studio, the design staff seeks partnerships to design affordable, custom solutions. These projects create unique places aligned with organizational values. Partners augment the creative response and elevate the design. Often, the partners represent manufacturers of systems that are incorporated into the project. Pre-manufactured building products like modular wall systems serve as a fundamental example. DIRTT, a partner of WSA Studio’s on many projects, leads research and product development to manufacture walls which bring high quality standards and consistency to the manufacturing of their products. Our projects benefit from the sustainable manufacturing methods which DIRTT harnesses and the consistent quality of their products. The construction result is more predictable. Components arrive in the field true to dimension and fabrication is simple for the installation team. This adds to the speed of erection and easy integration of electrical and technology infrastructure. Additionally, when the owner wishes to reconfigure the space in the future, they can reuse the components to support new layouts. This partnership with DIRTT expands the flexibility of the spaces which increases collaboration and fuels client innovation.

The design of specialty lighting can add dimension to the project as well. Innovation centers demand a variety of settings for workplace choice and walls provide boundaries which limit collaboration. If walls are less than preferred, the designer needs to work to define spaces in other ways. Differences in light levels, featured light fixtures, and accent lighting can make a dramatic impact on the definition of space, and often becomes a leading tool used to elevate the design results for innovation centers. At WSA Studio, designers partner with local lighting specialists and manufacturer’s representatives to stay abreast of the latest developments in lighting design. Often, these representatives are integrated into the design process early, and help to bring definition to the direction of lighting. Lighting can also be used to compliment the integration of audio/visual components. Great lighting design really makes a difference in the design of an innovation center. Partnerships with specialists drives quality design, and can often provide a spark to improve innovative results. 

These partnerships allow a small, boutique firm like WSA Studio take on more design responsibility. Partnerships extend the expertise of our staff, and provide clients with a designed environment that often exceeds their expectations. 

 
 
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TIM HAWK
Firm Principal  |  thawk@wsastudio.com