MX | part 3 | Experiencing Again
In spite of my successes, it was clear form my limited time there that frog wasn’t the best fit for me or way of working. So I decided to go out on my own again, take the great deal I had learned from working at frog, and re-invent the “boutique” design consultancy for the second time. Believing more than ever in cross-disciplinary teams, my first hire was the most talented graphic designer and illustrator I knew, Joel Francke (a fellow colleague at frog). Together we began a creative consultancy focused on pro-active product development, creating new brands and families of products unfettered by conventional practices. With our agile size and range of experience, we completed as “outsiders” – matching the big firms like IDEO, Lunar, and frogdesign in quality of results, while contrasting with our personal touch. We succeeded by believing in hard work and our own special mix of passion, technology, and intuition.
A big part of that agility was knowing how to help small companies think “big” and big companies think “small” – bringing the manufacturing/development know-how to the start-ups, and reinvigorating the vibrant optimism of the start-ups within intra-preneurial projects within corporations. We practiced this for companies large and small: Disney, Perfect Fitness, Seiko, Proctor & Gamble, Wham-O, Silicon Image, DigitWirelss, Alias|Wavefront, AquaFly, IdeaLab, Deuce Spinners, Autodesk, Imago, Techlighting, Abbott Labs, Bunkspeed, Wacom, Allplan, and once again Nike.
Our work with Nike and its interchange line of eyewear continued to evolved more sophisticated designs. We played extensively with the qualities and refractive properties of translucent plastics. When you design for refraction, you quickly realize what happens on the back side determines what you see on the front – pushing the sculpture into tight control of mechanics and material thickness of the plastic and its properties.
The necessity of hinges and nose pieces became rich sculptural aesthetic opportunities. We rendered countless visual studies playing with these properties, as we continued to explore and improve the fit and finish of the product line.
The goggles project was one of our favorites (although unlike most of our work with Nike, this project never made it into production). Sometimes designs just “click” and the ideas flow like water, effortlessly. This was one of those projects… At the end of the first round, Rob Bruce (Innovation Kitchen at Nike) who was leading Vision at the time, and Rob Barnette who headed up manufacturing and engineering in Italy (where the googles were going to be made), were interested in producing as many as 3 of the concepts for Nike. One was clearly top priority – the most innovative of the concepts. This design had a new way of looking at the entire lens entrapment system. It proposed a full “flying” lens approach, never done before. Its nose and brow “clip-in” points would hold the lens in place while the strap mount points would lock the trailing edges. When worn, the system was load under pressure against your face, making the user the final component of the structure. This accomplished several things – 1] it opened up visibility by more than 40%; 2] it made is really easy to swap out different lenses, the systems assembly was super easy to snap apart when not worn; and 3] having the lens delineate the outside edges gave the goggles a “never been seen before” ultra-clean look.
So the prototypes of these goggles worked great on the slopes (being some of the best and most complicated models we ever did with Widget Works, complete with hard and soft parts, co-molded in the correct materials to test the structural attributes of the design). Nike had pro-riders giving us feedback and we were folding those tweaks into the final production design. Things were all set to launch for the winter Olympics (2004), with metal contenders to be the first to use these goggles. As we are going over the entrapment of the spherical lens and all the other patentable features of the design, the lawyers came back with disturbing information – that Oakley owned the European patents on the spherical lenses we have built our design around. And because of the contentious nature of the relationship between Nike and Oakley,* the lawyers decided to cancel our program instead of deal with the lawsuits that would ensue if we went to production. Boom, done, that was it…
* True story (at least I think its a true story). Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, and Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley, are siting in some bar/restaurant somewhere. Over beers, while patting each other on the back about their successes, they state to each other that they won’t encroach on other’s core business. “Why would Oakley make shoes, or Nike sun glasses – how silly would that be..?” Well, I’m not sure who moved first, but needless to say, their friendship quickly took a back seat to their ambitions, and they have been suing each other with impunity every since.
One of the most compelling “fortune telling” projects we did for Nike was a look at a fitness spa designed specifically for women. It involved a fully integrated digital and analogue experience: full workout data acquisition, guided workouts, automatic micro-payment, on and off-line competitions, and social networking (mind you this is before the iPhone, Apps, the “cloud,” or even before Facebook was a house hold name).
At the center of the system was a RFID driven FIT – this watch-like band interacted with everything in the spa, keeping track of everything you did while prompting you through your workout (which you configured yourself on the FIT website). It would even take care of whatever you bought at the spa – just gab a Gatorade and your FIT band would charge it to your account (no waiting in a checkout line – who wants to carry money around at the gym anyway?). Your NikeID was your single source ID for web, for store, data collection, workout selection, and full guidance through the spa “as digital hub.”
It took the NikeID concept to the next level, with full body digital scans that would allow you to order perfectly “fit” clothing and shoes, as well as monitor the progress of your body shaping.
Workout machines were built right into the floors, walls, and ceilings, removing the clutter of traditional equipment. And the outdoor experience was brought indoors via floor to ceiling video walls.
These video walls could also “move” with you, supporting the illusion that you are in motion, thus removing the static nature of running on treadmills. They could even matching you up with real of virtual running mates, allowing both the competition and social aspects of running to flourish. All this while your stats and bio-feedback dashboard would give you minute by minute monitoring of your stats in real-time.
Even “endless” pool swimming could deliver the sensation of swimming through a lagoon in the bahamas while telling your pace, distance, and heart rate.
The Yoga experience could be digitally enhanced as well, with self guiding guru programs that would allow you to practice your customized routines, even when there was no class being held.
It seems that it was destiny that a wrist bound, personal data acquisition device was on its way. Now we have Nike’s Fuelband and Jawbone’s UP as some of the first devices of this kind. (I’m still missing the automatic micro-transactions myself.)
We got to assist Factor Design (famous for their design of Apples packaging) on designing displays for the launch of Nike+ at the New York Niketown. It was short and sweet, but it brought together aspects of our past “future project” for Nike, dating back with Astro and Pentagram, as well as a current client of ours – using MAXON Cinema 4D to render out these scenes of the New York Niketown.
We had a great time working with Alden Mills, ex-navy seal, and founder of Perfect Fitness, designing their second generation Perfect Pushup 2.0. This product raised the quality of fit and finish, as well as strength and robustness of the record selling product. We created a new design language while developing key elements: like the grip ribbing and the rubber bottom plate, as well as expanded the use of their signature red from a brand perspective.
Designing the Perfect SitUp was the next step up the latter of complexity. The product was engineered to not activate your hip flexors (something that is not taken into account by most exercise equipment of its kind), with its resistance blades engaging the lower abdominals in order to deliver the best six-pack workout. Key factors were a fully adjustable system to accommodate men and women of all sizes, and a patented head sling and handle unit. This unit offered self-adjusting head support throughout the entire exercise cycle, while keeping your hand in the most comfortable “perfect” position for optimal workout. This product was really Kevan Hollenback’s conceptual baby (Kevan joined Alchemy Labs right after graduating from CCA where I was one of his professors), and Mark Eastwood was the production designer producing the bulk of surfacing of manufacturing parts. I was focused on the head sling unit. Jeff Sand joined the team for tooling release and factory interactions, and did all the solid modeling work on the sling unit. As well, Ian MacColl joined Perfect Fitness to head of their internal product development and got fully involved – It was a real tour de force project and hitting the targeted price point challenged the entire teams abilities and know how. >> Watch the SitUp in action!
I think “fun” has always been a hallmark of our work, and we used all of our ability to tell fun stories with form for Wham-O. They are the brand of light-hearted playfulness, dating all the way back to the 50′s with the invention of the Frisbee and Hula-hoop. The call came from their head of design at the time, Ian MacColl (I’m not sure who was stalking who here). This project was all about expanding into the snow sporting arena. We were asked to create a snowball launcher, later called the Snowball Blaster. The design language for this product was inspired by hexagonal crystalline forms, mimicking the structures that snow crystals naturally form themselves. It incorporates a snowball making mechanism on its back, that forms spherical balls (3 at a time) and drop perfectly into launcher sling. The product sold out in its first season, moving over a million units; and gave spawn to a whole line of associated products – creating a sub-brand within the Wham-O offering. >> Watch the video for more how the Snowball Blaster works. Enough said.
I taught at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, off and on for over 10 years. The last few as a ranked faculty Assistant Professor, where I developed the digital design curriculum, coordinated with the PC lab and prototyping facilities, and taught advanced level design studio and design technology courses. In my tech class I combined form development with 3D computer modeling skills (Alias Studio). It was in this class that I started onto the theory that “form” held very specific empirical meaning directly connected to the geometry itself. Ironically I had been working with this theory my whole career, but something happens when you have to explain yourself to students – they hold you accountable until you make it clear for yourself. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Later I did some lectures at Autodesk University on this subject, and that in turn ended up becoming an article in 2009 for Core77 called “A Periodic Table of Form: The secret language of surface and meaning in product design.” >> see original article
My efforts to share design workflows and modeling methodologies extended to producing a training project for Alias|Wavefront. The effort was focused flexible concept modeling, or “designed to be redesigned” methodology. I designed a monocoque carbon bike to demonstrate this approach. This method was all about creating digital models that had the minimum amount of data, modeled with simplest of surfacing tools, in order to create models that were as flexible and easy to manipulate as possible.
We couldn’t have had more fun designing the first “spinners” for the bicycle market with the start-up Deuce Spinners. They was a classic start-up, and needed every channel designed for its launch. Joel Francke developed the brand logo, the web site, even some marketing image campaigns. The biggest challenge was cost – its not to difficult to develop spinner wheels for the automotive market (each wheel going for as much as $400 per wheel), but to hit $125 for a pare of rims for bicycles proved a real test. This was another Jeff Sand collaboration, tapping into his expertise and experience working with metal. In the end, we engineered a two sided stamped aluminum wheel, which was water jet cut, bolted together, sandwiching the central spinning assembly. This approach had the added benefit of being able to service that central bearing assembly. It also allowed for a huge amount of design freedom – new designs were simply a 2D water-jet cutting pattern, which meant that low production custom styles and limited additions could be done with almost zero tooling costs.
We also experimented with developing even lower cost options, looking at wire wheel spinners and modular plastic wheel concepts. This latter idea had the benefit of having the spinners on the outside, making it easy to swap out the external spinners. This played into the idea different spinners could be and upgraded, even traded, simply and cost effectively. Play > SPINNER_Video
Although the Deuce Spinners were originally designed to target the HipHop demographic, they ended up taking off in the BMX “halfpipe” market. The flash, as well as the extra strength of the wheels, added a lot of value and showmanship of the trick riding done by this crowd.
GoPods – if you can figure out what this is for, then there is a special prize to the commenter who guesses its purpose correctly first (as a hint, its not candy).
Disney came to us to looking at several lines of watches. MyFirst Watch, was a modular system for teaching time that leveraged cognitive leaning stages of kids between the ages of 4 to 6 years. We did a ton of concept exploration for this project, and Joel’s light-hearted illustration spirit was put to full use here. The final design leverage 2 stages built into one system: the first started out with a more playful skin, covering up one of the 2 buttons, focusing the child on learning the Hour Hand concept first.
Like taking training wheels off of a bike, this skin would be shed once the child had mastered the first stage of conceptual time development. The “stage two” inner body was more traditional in appearance and guided child through more complex notions of time, such as “quarter ’til” and “half past.” The watch included voice feedback – tutors to lead the kids though fun exercises (and of course they were disney character avatars of the kids choosing).
These avatars selected both appeared and sounded like their favorite characters bringing magic and delight to the experience. These watches also shared some of the magical technology we designed into the Snap line of watches – including our patented magnetic closure system.
The Snap watch was also a modular concept for Disney. Chris Heatherly (VP, Production & Marketing, Disney Interactive Worlds) and I worked together when he heading up frog’s strategy group. He invited me in to develop Disney’s “Swatch” watch for the youth and young adult market. Primarily the watch was to serve as vehicle showcasing Disney’s character “properties” (such as Nemo, Micky, etc). I set out to go further, designing a vehicle that truly captured the fun and magical nature Disney’s brand, thus matching its characters with equal character. The watch ended up having an innovative interchangeable strap system with the patented magnetic closure system. The magnets were the “magic” and the mix & match straps and cases were the “fun.” On top of interchangeability, the cases could actually “snap” onto anything, giving then the freedom of expression. These cases had a tempered steel backplate that acted as a bi-stable leaf spring (engineered with the support of the magical talents of Jeff Sand), allowing it to be “snapped” off and on just about anything with only one hand. Play > SNAP_Video
Seiko was the manufacturer for most of the watches we did for Nike and Disney, and over the years we got to know them quite well. One day they approached us, remarking that they loved our design firm’s brand name, and were wondering if we would be interested in a joint venture? The idea was to use the Alchemy name to launch a new line of watches (akin to a high-end Fossil). Of course we jumped at the chance to develop an a new brand – we called it AlchemyTime [AT]. Kevan and I created a family of products based on the same 4 elements the ancient alchemist believed constituted all matter: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. In addition we leveraged the their belief in the masculine and feminine relationship of the Sun and the Moon, playing with their natural tension and nature. This gave us 4 themes with a man’s and women’s version: 8 watches in total. We recognized that the timekeeping aspects of the watch was less important (being replaced by our mobile communication devices). Thus we focused on the jewelry and status qualities of watch wear. Each watch actively played with the notion of time, sometime making it somewhat difficult to even “tell” the time – creating a more controversial dynamic, making them beautiful conversation pieces. Unfortunately in the end, the mobile phone took such a big hit into Seiko’s watch market (effectively cutting it in half), so much so that they didn’t have the stomach to launch a new venture. And thus, regrettable, AlchemyTime was never born… (But be sure we are still open to new partners!)
Lighting was a perfect fit for our sculptural passion and technical abilities, and we did a fair amount of design work for TechLighting. Again it was one of those subjects that flowed as freely as water. Both form and function came effortlessly as we explored the potential of metal, glass, and light with our client. We had a lot of fun finding ways to utilized modular glass add-ons – taking advantage of glasses low production nature and thus offering robust families with lots of variety, leveraging a common metal platform.
The Tri-Pod design facilitated backwards and forwards facing glass covers that broaden the range of this line. It also worked in a no glass “bare bones” configuration, producing “naked bike” feel.
The Mono-Pod design was similar, allowing for reversible glass and a “bare bones” option, as well as 2 axis pivoting to reach difficult pendent angles.
Procter & Gamble ended up being a big client of ours for some time. We design a wide range of conceptual and production structural packaging for them, including work for sub-brands such as Downy, Tide, and Cascade to mention a few. The most involve was the Downy Simple Pleasures packaging project. What began as a collaboration with Julie Christensen at Surface Work (exploring 3D texturing), grew into new bottle design and a full production program producing tooling databases for the full range of bottle sizes. These databases were particularly tricky because of the efficiency of footprint throughout the range – width, height, and volume are specified to maximize the use of existing transportation pallets, as well as the “stackable” structural integrity of the packaging itself. Then there is the ergonomic considerations of handling and pouring these volumes. Our design language didn’t make any of this easy – its unique 360 degree asymmetric twist of randomized ripple pattern (mimicking the water action in washing machines) proved to be so difficult for the toolers to model, and got us the contract to build all those production databases. It ended up a big value for P&G as well, because we did the work in half the normal time for a lot less than than the traditional engineering channels.
Imago was a venture project with Ian MacColl (who I have know since our first day at Art Center, meeting while waiting in line to get our class schedules). The project was Ian’s brainchild: to create scaleable solution to the problem of our photographs sitting in ”shoe boxes” hidden in our closets. It was a great idea – get our photos and memories out of the closet! The solution was an elegant clear plastic box, that could stand as both a display and storage unit. And it would sell for just over 10 bucks. Alchemy Labs ventured the ID, production engineering, branding and associated graphic design for the start-up – all for a piece of the action. Digital photography was on the rise, and maybe if we had launched 5 earlier it would have been a big success? But we had to learn, as did Kodak and Polaroid – that clearly the era of printed pictures was giving way to the digital age.
IdeaLab was an incubation company that was all about developing and spinning off start-ups. They had a new idea to build a robot for the hobby market. This product concept had an object oriented software command structure that was designed to run laptop. The brains of the robot were relatively easy, the mobility was not. To “mobilize” the laptop we started with a simple chassis of extruded modular aluminum beams, some roller blade rubber wheels, and a central control box to drive them. And it all needed to be easily assembled by the hobbyist. Our primary job on this project was to “dress” the robot. It had to be inexpensive to tool and manufacture, and easy to assemble. Cut and sew was the logical choice. We explored a wide variety of materials and directions, building lots of paper mock-ups to test the viability of the ideas. Ballistic Nylon, translucent sheet plastic, latex, nylon, even felt was considered. Each approach was designed to take advantage of the material characteristics and create a compelling form. (This last yellow-green one, made of stretch nylon, might make a good character in the next Monster’s Inc. movie… Ha-ha.)
Our brains are drawn to beauty – we all search it out, we pay more attention to it – its not too difficult to figure out. If you went to Art Center, they drilled into you this fact, and trained you to draw and paint at the highest standards, in order to get your ideas across. Bottom line, the best way to get your ideas seen was to make them look beautiful. At Alchemy we took that training to tech, always pushing the limits of our 3D computer renderings. In the early days, it took a surprising amount of time to get those “juicy” shots. First we used Alias’s internal renderer, but then used Mental Ray within Maya. When Hypershot from Bunkspeed came along, we jumped at the chance to render our designs in some kind of “real-time” software. Completely passionate about the new rendering technology, I wanted to get involved. The guys from Bunkspeed were ex-Alias guys, so we knew of each other. Plus Thomas Teger, a great friend of mine who I met at BMW (way back when I was consulting for Alias), was heading up the marketing at Bunkspeed. One day I just called them up and said, “Your product HyperShot is awesome! Its 80% perfect, the other 20% is not so good… The good news is I know how to fix that last 20%.” Luckily Thomas knows me well enough to tolerate my over zealous moments, and a few months later we were working on making HyperShot that much better. HyperShot’s beauty was it was incredible simple to get started – you import the model and it is immediately rendering. Drag and drop a new material onto a part and it instantly updated, always rendering, all the time. Its Achilles Heal is that once you got to that stage, it is difficult to tweak – particular if you wanted to adjust one of “canned” materials and are not technically minded. Plus there were loads of very small inconsistencies, which stood out like sore thumbs because 80% of the interface was so simple. Our fix was to apply the process approach to material, quality and output settings, and reorganizing them all guided experience: We called it 1-2-3-Shoot. The entire UI was a simple, explicit and consistent path to producing a final image. It was designed to be foolproof.
Please test drive our prototype: demo > 123shoot_GUI
We were well on our way, when the “economy” conspired against us. The auto industry ran into trouble, which ran Bunkspeed into trouble, which forced Luxion (the development team who invented render engine used by HyperShot) to pull their license – before you knew it there wasn’t a HyperShot to design. C’est la vie… The good new is Thomas Teger (now VP Products & Strategy at KeyShot) joined forces with Luxion and relaunched the product under its new brand KeyShot. We switched over as well (and I’d still like to work on that last 20%).
We often got the opportunity to look forward while designing for the present – at the same time. This gave us the opportunity to create next generation products in the context of a long-term vision, constituting a trajectory and path for building ever evolving customer experiences that are consistent and on target. We used future our glucose monitoring concepts to simultaneously push current product development further that originally envisioned by Abbott Labs for themselves.
The Fusion project for Abbott Labs was a very technically challenging because it set out to be the first fully integrated “all in one” glucose testing device. It would test and diagnose in seconds without the hassle of traditional testing kits. All the stuff carried in the traditional ”kits” was packed inside of this new device: lances, testing paper, electronic readers, even disposal was fully incorporated. But product looked and felt huge, and its interface was horrendously complex. First thing we did was to direct its design in a more “lifestyle” direction, making it feel less medical oriented and scary. Then we took visual “weight” out of it by subtlety rolling back the edges to give it a smaller waistline. Next we envisioned its interface to feel like an “analogue” dashboard – focusing its display only on the essential results of the test. Abbott on the other hand, was very focused on the desires of the medical and insurance industry, since they were the actual “paying” customer. It took lots of concerted effort to convince them that more focus on the end user would benefit the insurance industry as well. Luckily I had Frank Denier, who joined to help me run the business side of Alchemy. Franks skills were all about client relations, something I frankly ran out of patience for from time to time. Our ability to tag team Abbott proved fruitful, and in the end we delivered what was best for the company and customer. We ended up doing lots of work with Abbott because of Frank’s efforts. The last challenge – to get it production worthy. Fusion was so technically complicated, we were fighting for every millimeter to make it look less heavy. I brought in Peter Kossev (founder of Pixel Mathematics) to help us work back and forth between our work in Alias and the engineering work in SolidWorks. He was expert in both systems, and was tremendously valuable in speed up the necessary changes and tweak needed to make our this design happen. Ironically, the program had taken so long to develop (Abbott worked on this for over 3 years before we were even involved), that the progress made in smart phones and associated peripheral add-on made the Fusion obsolete before it went into final production – as with Imago, timing is everything.
This next project was another chance to design something we would really have occasion to use ourselves (which is always fun). Above are some of our first 2D/3D concept sketches we did for a digital/analog pen device for Wacom, called Inkling. Given this was a pen, the ultimate tool of the designer and artist – we wanted to explore what each artistic perspective might bring to inspire the design language. Thus we set out to design a pen for each of the potential user groups: The above sample was drawn with the Industrial Designer in mind – born of a fluid “yin-yang” moebius form development. The sample below was for an Architect – referencing the architect’s triangular scale itself. Each explored a the triangular cross-section for improved ergonomics.
In keeping with our multi-disciplinary approach, we had Veronica De La Rosa (an architect) and a classic ID guy Elliot Ortiz (now at Whipsaw) as the concept team. I was in Munich a lot during this time working with a new client, so Mark Eastwood was back as design director on the project while Frank made the project run smoothly as usual. Common to all of our ideas was the effort to make all the parts of this system feel like one – to be a complete “kit.” We initially tried to incorporate the reader (the part of the system that received the digital signal from the pen) as the “cap” or carrier part of the system (seen in above concepts).
The final design of the Wacom Inkling held true to this integrated “kit” concept, which evolved into the “Bento Box.” Here all the various components had their place, each locked into the carrying case which doubled as a single point for charging all the parts simultaneously, whilst downloading the given sketches (all via its integrated USB cable). To complete the imagery of the system, the pen stored neatly, metaphorically playing the oversized “hinge pin” of the Bento Box system – while allowing for easy access of the pen itself. This is one of those times that making something look simple and easy, is simply not easy. It is a credit to the team how well the ID, and overall fit and finish of the complete system turned out.
The final part of the project was designing the software interface and structural packaging for the product (Veronica on interface / Eliot on packaging). There was a particularly interesting insight that led us to an interesting innovation in the software functionality. The system recorded every stroke of the pen sequentially, allowing the possibility to “play” the drawing activity forward and backward like a movie. This led us to the epiphany that you would be able to select time sections of the drawing, just like a digital “movie,” and edit them after the fact. This became a completely new added value for the product – the ability to sub-select, re-order, modify, and even delete any part of your “drawing” – changing the way a you think and work with traditional paper and pen drawing tools.
Years after working on the Speedform project, we got another chance to tackle 3D modeling itself. Peter Mehlstaeubler (who had been the head of development at Alias|Wavefront) called me up in 2008 as the current CEO of Nemetschek Allplan (the leading architectural CAD in Germany). He asked me if I wanted to come to Munich to lead a workshop brainstorming the future of Architectural design software. Of course he knew my answer – I jumped at the chance. The workshop was very informative and provocative, their technology was powerful but its usability was impossibly overcomplicated. On our last day I presented a simple illustration of what I thought their future interface could be – just an illustration, but they were intrigued. With their interest peaked and with sufficient desire to see what was next, I proposed to design and prototype that very concept.
Five months later, I returned with a interactive demonstration following the entire architectural design process – starting with sketching, then 3D modeling, engineering, producing 2D plans, as well as FEA, energy, and real-time cost analysis. This Lighthaus project was all about maximizing the work surface (full screen all the time), with its graphic user interface (GUI) floating on top of the work like a translucent heads-up display (HUD). Most importantly, that GUI presenting only the tools needed and only when they were needed – “just in time” (JIT).
As part of the Lighthaus project we also developed a concept for managing an architectural office’s projects and resources: The prototype was essentially a 3D interface made of a square plot of land with each side representing a particular asset category: People, Proposals, Projects, and Portfolio. It was a new form of desktop content management, nicknamed AOS (Architectural Operating System). Its purpose was to create a more natural and intuitive way of working with project management. It incorporated a magnifying ring and integrated application dock that helped users to focus on a given property or person, search and gather relevant assets, build teams and manage projects intuitively. The whole system mirrored the way we think about things normally, through association and context. For instance, if you are looking for engineer to include in an upcoming project, even if you cannot remember their name you might remember a previous project you collaborated with them – by selecting that past project and the key word “engineer,” your contact list to narrows quickly and effectively. Then after discovery, assigning that individual to the new project was as simple as “drag and drop.” The whole system worked this way, utilizing the 4 axis asset grid as a simple and logical means to locate and manage any aspect of project work.