Creativity

Design your Death: A Portable R&D Demo Evening

 

It’s not often that you get to see what goes on behind the closed doors of a design consultancy. But Portable is no ordinary design consultancy. For a start they are based in Collingwood, which automatically gives them a gold star – my old neighbourhood was a just a hop, skip and a jump across Hoddle St.
Secondly, I’ve heard them say that in their early days they aspired to be a kind of Australian IDEO — and doesn’t everyone love IDEO.

I’ve been to a few of their breakfast and evening talks and they are always (a) fantastic, (b) completely packed – standing room only. I first heard about Portable through fellow RHoK buddy and adopted design mentor Zen Tim. He’s possibly the most chilled out and thoughtful person I know. The first time I visited Portable was back in May 2018. Jason Hendry (Partner & Creative Technologist) gave an excellent talk about how they are using a human-centred design approach to building machine learning tools. More recently I heard Joe Sciglitano (Design Lead) talk about empathy in design and what to do with it. Both talks have been brilliant, and since then I’ve been reading through all their design reports. You can check them out here.

 
We don’t just do design. We start conversations with like-minded and diverse groups of people, whether they have a shared interest in design, technology or inspiring social good. 
— Portable, Collingwood.
At Death’s door

At Death’s door


Needless to say I knew that their R&D Demo Evening would likely be a pretty special event. I wasn’t disappointed.

I had a great time chatting to Portable and non-Portable folks about all things death and ageing and cancer. I also managed to pick a few Portable brains about tech for social good and the value of working at the intersection of data science and design research – thanks for indulging me Tam Ho.

We were invited to test out and provide feedback on the four prototypes they’ve been developing over the past year. It was a such a privilege to talk to their designers about their though processes, what they define as a success, and to hear more about their plans moving forward. Sarah Kaur (Partner & Chief Operations Officer) then launched their most recent report: The Future of Death & Ageing – 81 pages and 17MB of design goodness.

The highlight of the night was catching up with the lovely Martina Clark, founder of Carers Couch (@carerscouch) – I have no doubt her app will be an amazingly good resource for cancer carers. I also meet Sally Coldham, founder of Airloom (@AirloomSocial) and a She Starts alum, who is also doing amazing work in this space.

An all round fantastic night talking about all things data and design.

– A.B.


In case you missed it…

Empathy. Everyone's talking about it. But who's actually doing it? And what do you do with it once you've felt it? Our Human Centered Design specialist Joe takes us on a journey to discover the what, how and why of empathy, and how it's transformed his design practice. Hear all about how feeling stuff can help you win arguments, how to innovate by implementing the radical practice of listening to other people, and how an empathetic approach will not only help you understand your customers, but give you and your team the natural drive to solve some of the trickiest problems they face. With plenty of storytelling, animated GIFs and pop culture references along the way, you'll laugh, you'll cry, but that's kinda the point, ya feel me?


Worth watching this one too…

To initiate the re-boot of Portable Talks, we look at how a human centred design approach can be used to build AI and machine learning tools. Our Tech Lead and AI enthusiast Jason Hendry will cover the basic principles of machine learning and show you how anyone with a computer can begin the process of creating a basic machine learning model.

Data Science at Made.com

 

MADE.com is a UK-based online retailer with an award-winning business model. Foregoing traditional storefronts, Made has only three UK-based showrooms and works directly with designers and manufacturers to produce high-quality, thoughtfully designed furniture at remarkable prices.

As a made-to-order online company with furniture moving from ship to lounge room, leveraging production and customer data is critical to managing their supply chain. If too many products are made the company loses money is dock or storage fees; too little and customers wait longer to receive the orders. Made also prides itself on keeping ahead of trends, so predicting customer behaviour is vital to their business.

What I love most about Made.com is their TalentLAB crowdfunding platform. It’s a place to discover new talent and unique products you won’t find anywhere else. TalentLAB was born out of the MADE Emerging Talent Award – an annual competition for up-and-coming designers to break into the industry, and get their product made and sold.

We believe that great design is for everyone. It surprises, tells a story and makes the everyday a little less ordinary. At MADE we design for how people live today. No champagne, no private view, just affordable high-end design at your fingertips.
— Made.com

An evening of networking & talks

We had the privilege of spending the evening with Made’s CEO, Talent Acquisition team, and Data Science team. Being a design focussed retailer, it should come as no surprise that visiting Made’s London Headquarters was a really lovely experience. We were welcomed with drinks and nibbles, and more food following talks from Made’s leaders. Talks focussed on Made’s current and future data science aspirations, and why growing their team is critical to their future success.

Where does Data Science fit in?


 

Understanding the Customer Lifecycle

  • Considered purchases means long sales cycles.

  • Cross device browsing is hard to track – but here to stay

  • User journeys do not start at their site, they start in search engines.

  • There is untapped potential to drive repeat purchases.


Supply Chain

& Forecasting

  • Accurate sales forecasting is key to good lead times

  • Predicting forecast hits at the design stage could be game changing


Customer Service
Automation

  • The customer service team currently scales with sales

  • Advances in AI means many simple customer service queries should be able to be automated.


Visual Analysis
& Recommendations

  • Visual search – finding products of a similar colour, shape, or style.

  • Identifying products that work well together.

  • Learning to understand a customers style.