For the past four years, Herman Miller has been a sponsor of a program called InnovationSpace at Arizona State University. Begun in 2005, the program’s goal is to form transdisciplinary teams of students from industrial design, engineering, visual communication design, and business who systematically work through a matrix of four questions:
1. What is valuable to users?
2. What is possible through engineering?
3. What is desirable to business?
4. What is good for society and the environment?
They aim to create products that: satisfy user needs and desires; apply innovative but proven engineering standards; create measurable value for business; and benefit society while minimizing impacts on the environment.
“The InnovationSpace curriculum is built on the premise that a traditional discipline-specific education no longer provides enough expertise or variation in thinking to handle the complex challenges of new product development,” says Prasad Boradkar, Director of Innovation Space.
Herman Miller’s InnovationSpace teams are assigned to Doug Bazuin, senior healthcare researcher. Although they specifically focus on healthcare, the students can choose any area within the spectrum of care.
A two-semester program, it begins with a research phase. In the ideation phase, the teams develop three ideas, from which they choose one to pursue, following through with the development phase, engineering, marketing/branding, and business implications.
“The ideas and enthusiasm from the students really bring a lot of energy and are extremely refreshing,” says Doug Bazuin. “Besides providing real world experience and advice, this program helps prepare future employees and educate future end users.”