‘Grok’ is a term that was coined by the science-fiction author Robert Heinlein. It describes a complete state of understanding between two or more parties – a deeply intimate intermingling of separate intelligences. Various subcultures have adopted the phrase ‘do you grok that?’ over the years, from LSD-dropping hippies to computer hackers and, significantly, ‘grok’ was one of the late Steve Jobs’s favourite words.
Apple arguably ‘groks design’ better than almost any other company, yet it has actually gone one step further by quietly instituting ‘grok’ processes – where marketing, strategy, engineering and design teams produce products in parallel –at the heart of its operations. In so doing, it has risen to become the richest, most influential company on the face of the earth.
Smart entrepreneurs across multiple industries have observed that the simplicity of Apple's products has added tremendously to the company’s bottom line, and are looking to emulate their design-driven, intensely product focused and collaborative methodology. 'Grokking design' is not just about making things look good, it's about making them work simply and effectively within modernist principles and intermingling the design process within other spheres of production.
From small startups like Fray, which brings design, advertising and communications together in a merged creative offering, to large fashion companies like Zara who design, manufacture and distribute their products vertically to stay 'fashion forward', several companies are bucking the industrial logic of uniform outsourcing and specialised production, and placing designers at the heart of their output.
But how exactly does Grok Design work? Can any company enhance its output by following its principles? And could this little understood production process hold the key to Britain’s industrial future? Join us at The Book Club on April 11 for answers to these questions and others, and to find out how some of Britain’s most innovative, design-driven companies are being influenced by the hitherto underreported techniques of Grok Design.
We have fantastic guests who will be discussing how design-led parallel production is transforming company cultures:
James Moed works at the intersection of product design and the marketplace, redesigning services to make them more effective. Having previously worked on projects with US radio stations, Japanese comic book publishers and MTV Europe, James now works at the London office of international design firm IDEO, making financial services more intuitive and comprehensible to ordinary consumers.
Samuel Wilkinson is one of the UK’s most exciting young industrial designers, and the founder of the Samuel Wilkinson Industrial Design Studio. He's perhaps best known for Plumen – a beautiful, florid interpretation of an energy-saving lightbulb – and he’s conceived and executed a huge range of designs, from a smartphone-controlled terrarium that contains live plants to a public square in Lausanne, Switzerland that is laden with metal trees.
We will announce more guests shortly. You can join them and us for yet another Future Human mind buffet, which will of course contain cocktails, presentations, interactive games, big-screen Twitter slanging matches, and brilliant, brain-spinning debate. Once again, you can buy advance tickets here: http://www.futurehuman.co.uk/shop/product_info.php?cPath=3&products_id=17