Going Digital: Our Design Workshop In A Virtual Environment

Uncategorized 28 Apr 2021

Some take a day, others a full week: During our Design Workshops, we dive into intense processes of reflection and creation with our clients – spinning heads guaranteed! Read here how we have been creating stimulating virtual environments for our Design Workshop since March 2020.

From the WHY, via the HOW to the WHAT

Shifting a workshop setting into a virtual environment, the digital aatvos workshop still keeps the same promise as its analog forerunner: to provide space for co-workers, community members and other stakeholders to share their thoughts and wishes for a new Third Place and develop a shared vision that manifests in the initial architectural and design drafts. During the workshop, we team up with our client to define the client’s ambition, understand their users and formulate the promise which their new Third Place will keep to the community. All of this – including the results of in-depth user surveys conducted before the workshop – lays the groundwork that is then condensed by the aatvos architects and designers into spatial layouts, typological and quantifiable floor plans, and design themes for atmosphere, materials and colors, furniture and light – or in our jargon: from the WHY, via the HOW to the WHAT. 

Within a few weeks, we were ready to roll out an entirely digital edition of our Design Workshop.

Pepijn Vos Pepijn Vos Operational Director at aatvos

Guidance before and during the workshop 

“Already operating as a digital team gave us a head start when the pandemic hit, but we still needed to take immediate action in order to adjust to the new situation”, remembers Pepijn Vos, Operational Director. “And within a few weeks, we were ready to roll out an entirely digital edition of our Design Workshop. Apart from facilitating a flow of open interactions, another major challenge was to translate haptic elements like the aatvos Card Games into the digital world.”

Enabling in-depth conversations and analyses during the workshop, the use of the latest digital tools serves to create a variety of engaging moments of interaction. Not only on our side did the switch to a remote setting require the necessary preparation time and actions, but questions also arose on the client’s side. “When I heard that the workshop would be held completely virtually, I became curious to see how it would turn out”, says one of aatvos’ clients. “In general, we are a technophile team, but a few colleagues feared that they were lacking the routine with the newest tools. Receiving detailed, technical instruction before and during the workshop by the aatvos team helped everyone overcome their awe.” 

From live polling to live sketching

Replacing traditional flip charts with live polling, workshop participants use their own smartphones to answer questions and give their personal opinions. The answers that the participants enter on their smartphones become instantly visible in our digital environment – this ensures that no idea is overlooked. At the same time, we can engage in direct dialogue with each other. Playing the aatvos Card Games helps to discover the most essential wishes the client has: Using digital boards, the workshop participants create a selection of cards to define their favored ‘need to haves’, ‘nice to haves’, ‘typology, ‘atmosphere’ and even ‘potential partnerships’. While playing the aatvos Card Games, the audio and video connections are maintained – so it feels like we are together in the same room while playing our Card Games. “After some valuable discussion sessions, the aatvos team started live sketching on their iPads and I noticed that the Zoom room was filled with silence,” remembers another aatvos client. “It was amazing to witness how our vision turned into actual images that we could easily grasp.”

The benefits of the second-best

Thanks to the organization of more than thirteen remote workshops during the past twelve months, our projects have been able to maintain smooth progress. Despite the physical distance and less personal character, a digital environment also brings benefits. “The atmosphere in the digital workshops tends to be very focused”, describes Interior Architect Hélène IJsselstijn her impression. “I also noticed that the virtual setting we created encourages even the most reserved voices of a team to speak their minds.” Including everyone’s thoughts and wishes caters to more intense creative processes and increases the chances of new and unexpected outcomes. On top of that, working remotely contributes to a better environment while saving travel time and costs – all in all many reasons that tell us to continue offering our digital workshops in the future, next to the physical editions. 

We created a virtual setting that encourages even the most reserved voices of a team to speak their minds.

Hélène IJsselstijn Hélène IJsselstijn Interior Architect at aatvos

“The digital workshop is a great alternative”, sums up Creative Director Aat Vos. “Although we discovered new innovative methods that will also be an asset for the physical version, the digital workshop remains only the second-best option. This is simply due to our core belief that the greatest potential in the process of creating inclusive places where people feel welcome lies in the direct encounter with our clients.”

Would you like to experience a remote workshop for yourself or want to learn more about it? Send us an email.