On a trip to  Paris, walking amidst some of the foremost architectural and historical works. One of my goals for that trip was to work on being inspired to find a new way to innovate with design and I wanted to consider ways to innovate more than with my business strategies. I am confident this year in our strides towards upgrading technology and education. My concern now is how to innovate with our designs.

The constraints of our location, meaning where we are in the world, geographically and economically, put a damper on what work we can do for our clients. It would be wonderful to spend 6 months on the design of the home, every nook and cranny studied and refined, wonderful to spend months on the site plan, designing all mechanical as well as aesthetic perspectives. Finally another 3 months to perfect and review the construction design and engineering details. This would mean charging the client at least $30,000 for a home worthy 1.2 million. A small percentage of the life time value of the home. The design work can be under valued to say the least.

This is not where we are right now. Currently we only design exactly what our client wants.

On Medium, by Alex Obenauer…

“Products that go through a rigorous, empathetic, and iterative design process and end up having a fundamentally innovative concept and/or design that wholly innovates on the way the user interacts with the product, and often therefor, the content of their lives — this is design innovation. It’s innovating on a product through its design. It requires an immense amount of taste, empathy, creativity, and variety of inputs / perspectives.”

“…when done right, the results look obvious in hindsight. It takes a thorough, rigorous, and iterative process to get to the result that is so perfect that, given hindsight, it seems like the only possible solution.”

Principles of Design Innovation

Let’s talk about the principles of design innovation. Design innovation is:


Good design innovation is respectful of its context. It understands and fits in to its surroundings. It does not force a design meant for a different context on all contexts it lives in.


Good design innovation is deeply empathetic. Understanding the problems people and organizations face, the roots of those problems, how people approach them and think about them — these are all inherently difficult things to do that most ignore. Empathy is hard, but necessary for good design innovation.


Good design innovation progresses people or organizations towards a goal, or works to solve some specific problem(s).


Good design innovation is not superfluous; everything is intentional. Nothing is added simply for aesthetic appeal without intentionality behind achieving some goal or adhering to a core value.


Good design innovation is ongoing; it requires learning from prior iterations, deeply understanding what was observed, and from that, designing better educated iterations to run next.”

The understanding I have come to accept is that true innovation is a process. It is never ending, its about moving sideways, sometimes backwards in our thought process. Regardless I never want to stop trying to innovate. That is the creative in me, to strive for better for all. When we rise, its always best to bring others with us.