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Interview with Id.real

Home > Designer Interviews > Id.real

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Id.real (I) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Id.real by clicking here.

Interview with Id.real at Friday 4th of May 2018
Id.real Design Studio
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I: id.real is a team of designers and professionals from seven different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. Our team is formed by 16 extremely skilled idrealists that always keep in mind the final user -in every step of the design process. id.real works with co-creation methods and defends that the user is the final decision maker.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I: id.real is a design studio based in Madrid, lead by Creative Director/ CEO Anouk de Lesparda. We are 16 professionals from seven nationalities, and each of us with different backgrounds. We keep the creative process as a transdisciplinary one and, most importantly, we keep the user in the center of it. It doesn’t matter if we are designing a space or a product, for us the ultimate measure is the human they will serve. id.real is a unique place to work because of the team and space. It is situated in an old early 19th-century garage in the Salamanca Quarter in Madrid. The building has been remodeled following our philosophy: getting the best out of it to promote the users’ (our team and our clients) wellbeing: natural light, open spaces, zones that help to concentrate, and a cozy atmosphere that revitalizes our senses.

FS: What is "design" for you?
I: A process, a living experience. Design is all around of us -sometimes stunning, sometimes no that good. Design is not only beauty, it is also how our surroundings are organized and adapted to us. Of course, id.real ensures that balance in every single detail: beauty while useful, something that catches your eye; and also something that will make your life much better. That’s what we have done with Agape, for instance. It’s a piece of art! But the ultimate goal is to make the user happier, surrounded by family, friends, and excellent food.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
I: The kind of works that will make the final user happier. Therefore, it will depend on the moment, the objective, and the user we are working for. At the end of the day, for id.real it is the process that matters most. Each of us put our energy, style, and savoir-faire in the table, we mix these ingredients and we share the final result!

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I: id.real’s favorite design is the one that keeps the human being in its center, that devotes the solutions to the people who will make a real use of it. We identify a need, we design a solution. That’s what design should do -to always keep the user in the center of the equation.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
I: Agape & Kebrick are the first two products id.real has designed -so we are doubly happy to have won two silver A’Design Awards with them. It’s a boost to our work process! Every member of id.real has put a piece of them in the creation process. From organizing the focus groups and field visits, to conduct the research, from identifying the challenges to create an image and storyline.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
I: We work through a phygital approach, integrating today’s technology within objects and spaces to enhance the users’ experience. In other words, implementing the relationship between the physical and the digital.When we creating the physical part of our products, services, and spaces, we mix the most traditional forms of work with the most innovative and digital technics. We may sketch an idea, and then test it with a 3D program -and even print a prototype or mock-up with the 3D printer. And then, maybe even mold it again with modifications in different materials to see which fits better with our goal. Having no limits, being able to play, create, re-form, all to fit our user… these are our favorite materials.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
I: When the environment is prepared for you to create, when there is enough space -both physical and mental- and when you have a good support network. That includes while working at your desk, hiding from the team for a “me-time”, or working remotely (at The Retiro Park, for example) or at odd hours when your brain feels more up to the task. At id.real, we encourage and complement each other until creativity hits us. As the saying goes, success is a part of genius and an even greater part of hard work.Of course, each idrealist has different techniques that help us getting creative; and moments in the day when we feel most creative. The good thing is this is a flow -so in every second of the day there is an idrealist with something in mind!

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
I: The users' feelings, their perspective. In id.real, we work through a collaborative process with the final users -that means that we keep engaged with them from ideation to launch. So when designing a product, or space or an experience, we keep focussing on the explicit and implicit needs we have detected. Design is to serve: a purpose, a person, an objective. Therefore, it is a must to keep this in mind always. Obviously, we cannot leave aside the necessary profitability and viability of every work we do. Both when we design for a client, and when we do it for ourselves, we need to keep in mind the return on investment in order to be able to keep designing and producing new great projects.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
I: The range of emotions you feel when designing is just… too much! You can feel energetic, excited one moment, frustrated the next second. That is why being part of a team brings the best of each of us. We help each other to overcome the challenges -or we directly challenge each other! Depending on the needs of the project and how the members are feeling. However, the most common feelings are anticipation and expectation -for the good things to come, for the spark of inspiration, for the satisfaction reflected in our users' faces.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
I: Basically, satisfaction. But also, there is something in the back of our brain telling us to keep going… to start a new project. Seeing the design finalized gives us the boost we need to start the process all over again. It’s like recharging a battery!

FS: What makes a design successful?
I: id.real designs for the user. Co-creation goes beyond thinking about who’s going to use or like it, it is designing together with that person. We become a team of designers AND users. We start with some general ideas and then organize focus groups, debates, chats to gather as much as information as possible. We visit the place or places where the design is going to be implemented and observe how people interact with the surroundings, their needs, what they may be not saying… by doing that, id.real ensures that the design is meaningful for the people it is designed for. As we say, the user is the final decision-maker.It is that collaboration what makes a design successful, and therefore assimilated by the greatest number of users. Which, in turn, will ensure the design profitability.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
I: We need to consider different aspects, that’s for sure. For id.real, the most important aspect is that the design meets its objectives. At the end of the day, a good design is one that does what it was meant to do.Of course, there are other things to think about. For example, the materials -are they durable? Sustainable? Adaptable? If we choose one or another, will it considerably improve the outcome of the product? Similarly, we also may value the replication capability. Is this product easy to be produced? Will it be affordable if we use these or that production system? All in all, we need to consider these aspects that will enhance the results of our product or design idea. As per the bad, and following what we were saying, the worse you can say about a design is that it does not meet the users’ objective. If the objective is to decorate, then it has to be astonishingly beautiful. If the objective is to enhance human interaction, then it has to do it!

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
I: As designers, we are at the beginning of the creation, leading to production and usability with the user. But we are also at the end of the process. In this case, we are responsible for choosing the material and we should ask ourselves where it comes from, which process are we going to apply to it and what would be the impact on the environment in term of carbon footprint, water pollution, energy consumption… and when possible, look for alternatives that will reduce the impact on the environment but maintain or increase the quality of the product. In turn, when talking about service design, as designers we are responsible for ensuring that the overall experience and the quality of life of the people we design for are always positively impacted, always searching for the greatest impact at the lowest cost (both economic and environmentally).

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I: Design is everywhere -fashion, furniture, art, fabrics, digital, services. You name it! We are heading towards a transdisciplinary work where collaboration between different type of professionals will take the lead. Design is becoming a key element of the human wellbeing as well as an integral part of every business. We are already seeing it in many areas, but soon enough we will see that reflected in all the aspects of our life. Afterall, it is a key element of technology!Also, the consideration of the user as a team member is important. More and more, we are seeing how important is to engage with the final user during the co-creation process. Continuing with this idea, it is becoming imperative to cultivate a culture of collaborations and partnerships to offer a greater array of possibilities, which adds to the transdisciplinarity that is required to solve today’s and tomorrow’s issues.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
I: As part of this year’s Madrid Design Festival, we presented “Dare to Share”: Agape’s exhibition at id.real’s gallery #BeCurious, from February 13th until February 28th, 2018. Design is art and curiosity. From the id.real studio, we integrated Becurious Gallery, a gallery dedicated to co-creation. The Dare to Share exhibition explored the eating-sharing-playing relationship with the Agape kitchen collection, designed for diners of the 21st century. id.real’s next exhibition will be held in January 2019 at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair Spielwarenmesse, and we are sure Kebrick will be a star. With Kebrick, we will challenge the visitors to create and destroy, to interact with the environment, the spaces and the senses. Although Kebrick has been created with children in mind, id.real is sure adults can explore their own creativity as well. So, do you… dare to play?

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
I: By talking, interacting and observing people. By being alert of the surroundings, of the spaces we are living and feeling you can find new challenges and inspirations. You can detect what is missing in a specific place, or identify why something is working better that a very similar one that is failing. By observing how nature adapts to new challenges, or simply by absorbing all that nature has to offer and humbly being inspired by it.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
I: id.real’s design style is to keep the user in the center. At the end of the day, that should be the definition of design! Design is nothing abstract but rather an interpretation of reality. A reality where people move, interact and live in a specific place and moment. So, our design style is to be aware of our users, our partners. That way, we can answer to their needs and desires. Design is a service…

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I: At id.real, there are seven nationalities living together. So our heritage is multiculturalism! So many different perspectives have an impact on how projects are co-created. Each of the professionals brings to the table their experiences, feelings, skills, and knowledge. id.real promotes transdisciplinarity and user-centered design, and also multiculturalism. To revere and care for the cultural heritage is a key element in any good design process.

FS: How do you work with companies?
I: id.real partners with people and companies to improve their spaces, branding (both offline and online), services and to develop products that they or their clients may need. The partnership can come from a specific request or petition (e.g. create a whole new space for a restaurant, create a new website following the branding we developed, transform a house into a home…) or through the ideations in our lab, where we create something concrete and then we search for a partner to work with its distribution. Agape is a good example of this.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
I: Is she or him a good team player? Are you going to support his/her work and listen to their advice? We have to ensure we are building a good team -with good professionals and good people. And of course, if your company wants commitment you need to show commitment too. id.real works hard to ensure that our team members -designers, but also front developers, communication, and marketing professionals, management team- can develop their skills within the studio and grow up in all the possible areas. Respect, admire and promote the work of your team!

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
I: id.real focuses its attention on the end-user in order to anticipate his/her need(s) and to solve problems. To do this, we strengthen our effort in research, organizing focus groups, informal chats... to gather as much as information as possible. There is also a part of market research to identify what already exists and how to improve it, how to be more innovative. Then, id.real visits the place (or places) where the design is going to be implemented - also called field research- and observe how people interact with the surroundings, the needs, what they may not be saying… After the research part, we uncover the insights; conclusions that will guide us in our design. The next part of our process starts with a co-design session with users. From there, we start to design, prototype and test with them. We will iterate the resulting prototypes until the users give us their OK indicating that we covered all of their needs that we are able to. Afterall, the final prototype aims to be the perfect balance between covering the users’ needs and what it is actionable through design. The cherry on top, keeping the equilibrium between aesthetics and functionality. By following all those steps, the studio ensures that the design is meaningful, covering the needs and desires of the people it is designed for. As we say, the user is the final decision-maker.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
I: id.real home was designed following design thinking principles, so there are more than five things (and spaces) we could list!The glass vault is one of the key elements in the studio. It is not only beautiful but also really useful. It gives us natural lighting, fresh air when opened, and inspires the team while working. The glass vault also helps to keep a balanced room temperature. There is also the vertical garden at the entrance. Plants are a key space element. They help to keep the air cleaner; they give team members something beautiful to look at -and get inspired- and, they welcome everyone who comes into the studio. Then, we have our tailor-made, organic-shape tables which allow us to work easily alone, by pairs or in bigger groups depending on the needs. The fourth element we could list in here is our meeting room -or meeting rooms, as it can become two separate spaces. These rooms have all you need for a good meeting, fitting perfectly the phygital experience within the space: domotic, touchscreens, comfortable chairs, big tables, good (adaptable) lighting. The doors -both the external and the separation door between rooms- soundproof the space.Last but not least, there is the id.real symbol: tense-structure. A design based in textile architecture compromised by filaments and poles that, while beautiful and hypnotic, helps to separate the pool (a below-level space that allows meetings of inspiration and work sessions) and the general room, giving privacy and reducing the noise between spaces. It’s a clear example of a piece of art which also has practical implications.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
I: At id.real, all the team members meet early in the day -coffee at hand- to discuss the daily objectives, news, and next steps. Feedback from other colleagues is key to move forward. Moreover, these gatherings -that keep happening during the whole day- help the professionals to get creative, to relax, to get inspired. Lunch is also a good moment for chit-chat, project discussion, and networking. Depending on the project or projects, we may split into working groups or just start working on our own. In the research part of the process, for example, the team may decide to break the items into smaller parts so each member can do part of the research. Or someone may focus on the research while others start gathering feedback, feelings, perceptions from the users. Similarly, at the inception stage, we may work individually at the beginning (each one proposing ideas, for example) or create something together from the get-go and test it later on. Each day is a bit different because each project is different. The point in common is that each designer can relay to the other professionals.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
I: Be edgy, experiment, try new ideas! But always keep in mind why you are designing. Do a good previous research. You may think you are inventing the wheel, but often enough somebody will have tried that same path before you -and we bet you that other colleagues (wiser or younger) may already encounter your challenges. Be humble and learn from others. Since no one person can have all the answers, exchanging ideas and knowledge is the best way to stay ahead.When working in a studio like id.real, with other designers and professionals from other fields, check with the team members is also highly recommended. We may miss something that a marketing person, or a front developer, or maintenance manager have already solved. Just because they have a different background doesn’t mean they cannot teach us something.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
I: One of the positive aspects is that as a designer we can use our skills to improve people’s lives. Specially, being imaginative in your daily work -and that being rewarded- is highly positive. Nobody expects you to think inside the box! So you can be intrepid, adventurous and bold. However, sometimes you may feel exhausted. When inspiration decides to hide, it can be a real challenge. Also, it is kind of fun to do the impossible! Search for solutions nobody else has found, and the adrenaline boost when you finally see it! Again, it can also be a challenge to be always looking for the difference that will make our design shine. So, it’s a two-sided coin. The good things that come from being a design studio also come with a no-so-good counterpart.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
I: Test, test, and test. Test as soon as possible from the concept idea till the final product through MVP, prototypes and iterate! Any idea you may have can become a great product, experience or space. Usually though, not at the first shot. Very often, you need to run multiple tests before you achieve your ultimate goal. It is true that sometimes, as imaginative people that we are, we just like to sketch something for the fun of it… even then, when you look at those sketches, later on, you can find amazing ideas waiting to be tested. For id.real, without checking we can not continue with the design. id.real has multiple spaces where to conduct these tests -you usually find idrealists everywhere checking on something! Also, a designer can get blocked and in id.real team members help each other providing solutions, reframing questions, offering inspiration. Others’ points of view can unblock the path and help the idea evolve!

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
I: One of them is critical thinking. You need to analyze the world with multiple different glasses. As mentioned, design looks for balance among usability, aesthetics, and practicality. At least, this is the equilibrium id.real seeks. So in each step of the way, id.real needs to be sure we are looking at the problem to solve from these different points of view and include feedback in all these directions.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
I: It depends on the moment of the process where id.real is. Pencils, colour pens and paper/notebooks are always around -that is for sure. Also, at id.real we have an office with books and prototypes that may help us find the correct path. And of course, we use our computers, smartphones, and tablets when necessary. We also use the 3D printer to get the first prototypes and test them. As per software, we usually use Rhino, Autocad, Keyshot, sometimes Adobe. Also SolidWorks, and the IOT tool to use during workshops (IOT service kit). Our toolbox is full of game cards in order to get more creative answers and facilitate sessions.Again, it depends on many things.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
I: Team work! id.real is a transdisciplinary studio, that enhances the skills of each member -that also implies that there is constant coordination and taking over different aspects in different moments. Design is a joint effort, so when a member gets tired, we make sure that there is a relay, another professional that can follow where the first one left it. That way, id.real is always designing! Any good designer will tell you that the best results are achieved with passion and motivation. Time management will depend on much your passion moves you to keep designing at any given time or project. There will be times that we can stay an entire weekend designing just for the fun of it; you just can’t stop creating and drawing. On the other hand, sometimes creativity eludes you giving room to frustration. It really will depend on your environment. If the environment is rich with stimuli, it will take less time to develop your new design.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
I: There are variables that may affect the time it takes to design an object. It can take you from two months to two years. Or even more. When co-creating with the user, it may seem longer at the beginning: defining the idea it will take possibly longer. However, once you develop the idea and you get your first prototype, it’s much quicker -because you make fewer mistakes. You already know where you are aiming at, and know the feedback from the user constantly. So when you finally get to the launch, there are fewer possibilities to have a fiasco.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
I: Exactly, what does id.real do? For outsiders, to fully understand and appreciate what a design studio does is complicated, specially one such id.real where we do product, branding & digital, spaces, and service design. Furthermore, if you include the user in the process, it can be even more complicated. However, the more id.real works with different partners, the easier it’s becoming to show it. That is because concrete examples can tell a lot about our work and also, the more id.real is in the field, the more people see first-hand what we do.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
I: As a studio, our first most important job experience was actually becoming a design studio: going through our birthing process, building a great team, designing our working/leisure space and lately, immersing ourselves in all that phygital has to offer. We are a young and dynamic studio, always searching for the best ways to do creative and innovative work. Hence, our id.lab was born. Agape & Kebrick are our first projects out of the id.lab. For us, developing Agape & Kebrick has been another one of our most important experiences. First, they allowed id.real to work with its own times and terms, since there was no external client with their own needs and expectations. Also, we enjoyed plenty of mental and creative space to design something meaningful and special, totally id.real. And all that, following the process that is part of the studio's DNA: collaboration, co-creation, keeping the user in the center of it. That is why earning a Silver A’Design Award means so much: it backs up our philosophy. Nevertheless, we will come back next year ready for the Gold Award… We are ready for the challenge, partnering with great local and international schools (IED, IE…) as well as people and associations with diverse skills that bring so much to our team (Asociación Asperger Madrid).

FS: Who are some of your clients?
I: id.real has several clients. For example, id.real has worked with Anana, creating a beautiful space for their restaurant; Prodigy, an eSports gaming club that perfectly merges the phygital experience; U2Guide, a travel platform that promotes social responsible travel and helps local communities to empower themselves;EDPR, the renewable energy company; some private clients that have trust us into transforming an empty house in comfortable homes… and of course our own projects -Agape and Kebrick.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I: Any design that involves the user -that is the type of design id.real loves to do. Actually, for id.real that is the definition of design. Anything done should have a purpose, a clear objective: to benefit the user and empower him/her. The only possible way id.real conceives reaching those objectives is by creating in partnership with the final user since the beginning; to partner with the person or people that will be in fact using the design -no matter if it’s a space, an object, a product, or a service.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
I: There are different plans in id.real near future. Of course, moving forward Agape & Kebrick is one of them. The Silver Award gives id.real confidence, and support. So, we are confident the launches will be a success. Keep in tune, you will hear more about id.real! Additionally, id.real is already working on new products. Some will complement Agape or Kebrick, some will be completely new. What it is sure is that id.real’s goal is to keep designing products and services through the co-creation process.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I: id.real is a transdisciplinary studio that bases design in team-work. Every professional in the studio is involved in the design process some time or another. The services, experiences, and products by id.real are a result of a joint effort.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
I: There are some works in the pipeline that would give continuity to some of our projects. We are in the early stages, so there is no much else we can say right now. What we can say is that id.real keeps thinking of the importance of sharing, playing and creating in people’s life. Is with that spirit that we are both reaching out and receiving invitations to speak in different venues to both learn from others and to share our experiences and know-how. Art, design, innovation, phygital integration are all topics that we love to talk and listen about.

FS: How can people contact you?
I: If they are in Madrid and want to visit id.real, they can come to our dear offices at Castelló 19 Street. They can also give us a call (+34 911 732 725), send us an email (weare@idreal.com) or check id.real out in Instagram (@id.real), Facebook (@idrealdesign), Twitter (@idrealdesign) or LinkedIn (id.real). id.real’s website is being updated but it will be soon available.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
I: id.real wants to thank A’Design Awards & Competition for the support given to our projects and our design process. For us, these recognitions mean that keeping the final user in the center it’s the correct design path. Thanks!


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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