Umbrella Design

Insights 1.0 [SS/OLD]

Does design affect our daily lives?

I’m a London commuter; I can instantly feel your sympathy. However I am also a member of a train gang, not the bandit type, but an interesting group of fellow travelers who tend to take the same train as me. Over time our British reserve has been broken down as we trod on toes, and several “Sorry’s” later we have been brave enough to actually talk to one another. We couldn’t stand the 30 minutes of awkward silence, and stares. Now we cause the stares as Strictly, X Factor and the sexed up version of Poldark is discussed loudly and in GREAT detail.

We see the other commuters smiling at our conversation and we would welcome them to join us, but they very rarely do. Over the last couple of years we have begun to segment as marriages, babies or new jobs have changed the dynamic. So, we reward ourselves with a catch up, twice a year, usually in an Indian restaurant for a meal and a moan about our jobs, partners, kids AND the same old issue.... the available seat, or lack of!

In general, most trains do run on time-ish, however the lack of seating versus the cost is scandalous, leading to a collective cheer when first class is declassified.

And, I notice that my own perception of the service changes depending on the journey I take. When I stand for 30 minutes it’s obvious that the design of the carriage relates to this perception and how important design within the carriages actually is. 

My regular train has a standard seating layout with more seats than standing space, allegedly. Therefore I rightly or wrongly expect to get a seat for the money I paid! Or charge me less to stand, rather like first class, offering me a choice.

When I regularly visit a friend South of London I always expect to stand and don't begrudge paying to do so. Why? The carriages on this line have rows of seats that run along the edge of the carriage, there are no doors separating the carriages so there is more room to stand. In fact they were designed for standing with greater width, more bars to hang onto and floor space for bags etc. My perception of this layout is that I am not guaranteed a seat so I’m actually ok about it as I expect to stand. Therefore does the design of the carriage really make a difference to the daily commute in terms of how the passenger feels about potentially standing?

Recently we have been working with a client on functionality of space. How a small space can be used to make the customer feel as though they are being pampered whilst they spend money treating themselves. Actually they are having an express service, but the designed ambiance and the use of the space gave a deeper feeling of relaxation.

We spent time with the client looking at competitors within the market and noting how space and furniture is used creatively. It doesn’t always have to be big, small and well designed can be beautiful too.

Our design team work together with the client, get to understand their objectives and desires, then take time to benchmark, competitor shop, and discuss options with them before pen goes to paper; Even down to the type of chair an how long it needs to be comfortable for!

Design will always be a compromise between what the client wants, what is realistic within the space and budget, BUT that does not mean bad design. Actually the opposite in fact, as designers can see the possibilities while working within a clients budget.

Great design will save you money, give you the end result that you are looking for, and most importantly help you to achieve your bottom line.

Outstanding design will also give us more interesting topics to discuss on the train other than who got chucked out of the latest reality T.V. show at the weekend. Having said that, ‘I’m A Celebrity’ starts soon…

Hold that design please!

train internal - commute