Copenhagen was strangely sultry for mid-September. Each morning as we walked/metro-ed/uber-ed our way to Copenhagen Business School the sun was warmly uplifting. But later it became uncomfortably sticky until the cool evenings swept in - this unseasonal weather pattern set the tone for our latest meeting...
We all arrived with broad smiles and genuine embraces - the result of a year’s familiarity with each other. Although we anticipated there'd be difficult questions to answer over the two-day workshop, the atmosphere was warm and optimistic (something Skype calls rarely achieve).
In the morning there were planned talks and activities, and a sharing of knowledge about T2C materials on a tour of R&D islands. In the heat of the afternoon, we started to explore our design islands.
Navigating from materials R&D to new design concepts was tricky at first, it took a while for people to adjust to the unfamiliarity of design applications – and the journey could have been smoother.
At the end of Day 1 it wasn’t clear if we had achieved everything we had intended; had the two areas of materials knowledge from science and design cross-pollinated or simply passed each other by? And some difficult questions about project direction remained unresolved.
By contrast Day 2 was a dramatic voyage. We raised project direction issues in open and frank discussions, and there was uncomfortable uncertainty as partners discussed their contribution to solving the problems. Through some brilliant tools and mediation from our lead facilitator from Material ConneXion and the generous collaboration of all of the partners, indecision turned into commitments, and discomfort to excited optimism.
As we fed back the previous day’s Design and R&D Island work to the whole group, we saw the project pulling together in a synchronicity that hadn’t existed before. The project materials lined up with the manufacturing capabilities and we could all see the kinds of products they could become.
The joy after a truly intense two days was palpable: “This was the best workshop yet”. Even if at times it felt like we might at any moment become unstuck, the hard work of communication and collaboration definitely paid off.
My big takeaway from Copenhagen: “we need uncomfortable moments to progress”
And the result? By workshop 06 in London we will have our first design concepts and our first Trash-2-Cash material samples.
Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL