The Lab

“If I see anything vital around me, it is precisely that spirit of adventure, which seems indestructible and is akin to curiosity.” Marie Curie

The stimulation and development of ideas can approached in a structured and methodical manner, using a hypothesis, a set of inputs and outputs, a method and an analytical process. These criteria can vary for each activity, depending on the objective. This is why we run a visioning laboratory – our process is rigorous and experimental.

The principles of the Lab are based on ethnographic practices of participation, observation and attentiveness to detail. Most of all we emphasise going to where people are at and building ideas from there.

Our process

  • Preliminaries: we have a chat about how our methods can help you
  • Proposal: we come up with suggestions on how to tailor future visioning and creative idea stimulation for your needs
  • Exploration: we do stuff that delivers on your objectives
  • Output and Analysis: we produce a set of outputs and an analysis of the process

How previous work developed

For developing a research idea, we worked with the lead academic to identify priorities and design a workshop session to explore them further. We ran a workshop with a series of exercises to facilitate conversation and develop a shared agenda. We provided a summary of the proposed outputs for follow-up.

For #IfIwereaStag, we were asked to help interpret the anthropological notion of perspectivism into a more accessible conceptual frame for the general public. We proposed the notion of ’empathy for non-humans’. Perspectivism is based on a Native American viewpoint which understands all creatures as being essentially the same but with different ‘coats’ or animal forms. At the art installation event over a weekend in August 2017, we also provided visioning sessions to help visitors imagine themselves as non-humans.

For Future Salford, our objective was to engage residents and decision makers in discussions about the future of Salford as a city. Our hypothesis was that everyone has their own ideas and aspirations for their future city. Our method used a meditative technique to connect people to their instinctive imaginary. We asked them to close their eyes and imagine a clock going forward into the future. The outputs were sketches of future worlds which we displayed in an exhibition, on a website and published in a Future Salford sketchbook. The analysis has produced insights into who gets to make decisions about cities and where their authority comes from.

For Dane Bank Green Space, we were asked to support the development of alternative visions for a green area. We used the same method as with Future Salford but found that this did not necessarily produce positive visions of the area. The analysis identified the visioning exercise as a powerful motivator for action – with some people inspired by aspirational ideas and others by fearful concerns.p