5 minutes with… Raul Sarrot
Ahead of DA’s Beyond Design Thinking: Game-changing co-creation techniques to work with your clients workshop in Auckland this month we spoke with facilitator, Raul Sarrot a multi-disciplinary designer, strategist, design thinking coach, educator and researcher. His international experience has been forged over 25 years working alongside a wide range of commercial and not-for-profit enterprises in Asia Pacific, South America and Europe.
Friday 26th July 2019
9am – 12.30pm
$350 +GST Professional / $250 +GST Design Assembly Friend / $100 +GST DA Student Friends
What is your background and how did you get into design?
Interesting question that could open a very long answer (smile). I’m a Designer. When people ask what I design, I normally reply ‘everything’. I mutated from being a traditional print-based designer to working on online platforms, then specialising in typography, then branding, then became a Creative Director and a Brand Strategist. These days I spend most of my time in between designing businesses and coaching teams on how to flow in their ways of working and still doing branding work. I guess that leads into your second question about how did I get into Design. I started working in advertising, then I studied Architecture and after a hiatus (moving cities, etc) I studied what was then known as Graphic Design at the University in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Now, in perspective, I can say that being a Designer combines all the things that interested me since I was kid. An innate sense of curiosity, the possibility of getting to know (and connect) people and places, the chance of creating and making things and constantly exploring the possibilities of creativity (through reflective thinking, typography, photography, spatial design, design thinking, etc).
What inspired you to do this workshop?
It has a dual purpose. One is to share with the participants some new effective and practical techniques for co-creation and the idea of going beyond what people conceive as Design Thinking. The second one is to collaborate with Design Assembly in their mission to reach out to the Design community and beyond.
Why is empathy so critical in achieving design excellence?
Empathy is key to design. When you design you normally do it commissioned by someone (with a specific purpose) for someone (with a specific need). Understanding both of those realities require high doses of empathy. If you don’t have empathy then you cannot really connect to either the purpose and the potential of the exercise. I would say that be a good designer you need to have empathy. You might argue that you can get away with little empathy and still be a good designer if you are working as part of a much larger team and/or working as a specialist on a specific/technical task that is only a small part of the project.
What do you see as the biggest roadblock to creativity (and or innovation) in typical design methodologies?
Well, certainly the lack of empathy (as discussed before) is one of them. The other –of course– is the lack of a realistic budget. However, what I find as one of the fundamental roadblocks for creativity and innovation is the lack of a genuine desire to innovate (funny that). This means a real desire to create ‘game changing’ products, services or even actions for the benefit of others. I find that sometimes people has only a ‘superficial’ will to innovate, a desire that is not quite purposeful but more like a temporary need to tick some boxes or simply to look good/cool. That’s is a real wasted opportunity (and normally a waste of time and money for all involved too).
How has your creative process changed over your career so far?
My creative process is constantly changing because I’m exposed and open to new things, new cultures and new ways of working. As a curious designer I’m constantly prototyping and iterating even with the way I work, in this case new ways of going through the creative process too.
In your opinion what 3 factors will have the greatest impact on New Zealand’s design scene in the next 5 years?
Well, your questions are getting harder and more philosophical as they go (smile). I’m a little skeptical about the term ‘design scene’. I think Design exists as a reflection, a bridge and conductor of other wider contexts and realities (from individual to social and commercial). As such, the design ‘scene’ itself is not important for me as it becomes part of a much wider context. What I’m much more interested in is what 3 factors will influence design as such, and/or which design factors will have a greatest impact in New Zealand in general. I guess that answer to could be that we – as designers– should be to be able to look at the wider world as much as we look ‘inside’ (our country, our communities, our realities); to find and be in harmony with our identity as a nation (I believe we are still soul-searching as a blended cultural society); and lastly to dedicate ourselves to create game-changing, meaningful, purposeful innovation that has a genuine and real positive impact on human beings and the environment.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I like helping people that are deeply connected and love and believe in what they do (regardless of the scale). Of course, ethically I make sure their project will have a positive impact. When I do that, I am happy and makes me a little proud to feel part of a positive action. I’m also proud of having launched myself into design ‘ventures/explorations’ and ways for working that people consider weird/crazy/impossible and yet they were very successful prototypes or real end products/services that actually they worked really well. This is where you learnt the most (and are more proud I guess), venturing in the ‘unknown’ and having a successful story to tell.
How does being a teacher shape your ideas on practice?
Ideas are intangible concepts and they only take shape once they become real through some sort of physical expression (smile). Back to your question, being a teacher constantly shapes my vision of the world and –as such– my ideas. It teaches me (funny that) how to be constantly be open to the new (new knowledge, new students, new dynamics). Teaching is learning, it is giving and receiving all in one. Sharing at the deepest level. As the maori expression goes: E tipu e rea (the old learns from the young and the young learns from the old). It is a beautiful concept and even a more beautiful experience to work that way.
If you were not in the creative sector what would you be doing?
I would be playing music, which is what I do at night or over the weekend, or more dedicated to writing, but I guess those are also creative expressions. I cannot imagine a life without constantly creating so cannot really answer your question.What can participants expect from your “Beyond Design Thinking: Game-changing co-creation techniques to work with your clients” workshop?
Well, hopefully they can expect a very vibrant, lively and meaningful session (laugh). The workshop is aimed at exploring and sharing different, easy-to-learn co-creation techniques that could help people either go deeper in or beyond Design Thinking. It will be a hands-on workshop with lots of practical tips and tools to apply in your everyday work-life.